Check out this fantastic short comedy film created by Leonardo Dias, during one of Europe's many Covid lockdowns!
Have a look at behind the scenes video, blog and images! To find out how Leonard used Fovitec green screen and lighting, along with model making to create this film.
Hi! My name is Leonardo Dias, I live in Lisbon, Portugal, and I am a creative. I use this vague word, because it's pretty difficult for me to define what I am and what I do. I abandoned a career in architecture to pursue the dreams of being a fiction film filmmaker. At the moment, it's corporate videography that pays my bills. As a hobby, I dance and act, which led me to some professional gigs in those fields. I've been part of the cast of dozens of children's theatre shows, I entered a talent show on national TV and I've even hosted a couple of shows in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, speaking English! Plus, I've written 2 short stories that I'd like to turn into short films in the future. So I could say that I am a videographer, filmmaker, dancer, actor and author... But that would be an insult to those who have dedicated all their lives to one of these arts and have had years of formal training. Or maybe it would make me sound like a pompous prick, which is also not what I consider myself. I'm more of a “Jack of all trades, master of none”. What I really like to do is to create and express myself, it doesn't matter what the medium is.
In 2020, during the first quarantine, when toilet paper was selling like hotcakes, I was low on work and I thought “Well, now's a good time to finally start working on a passion project or to learn a new skill (of course)!” That feeling lasted for... two days. As soon as I laid my eyes on the “Isolation challenge”, on YouTube, I was hooked and couldn't stop thinking about it. My brain was boiling with ideas and saying “let's give it a go”! I had to obey and “bye-bye new skills! It was nice never meeting you!” So, just to clarify, the “Isolation challenge”, by YouTuber Garrett Sammons, was a “do-it-yourself” filmmaking challenge; the goal of which was to create an intro sequence for a fictitious TV show named “Isolation”. The sequence had to be created by the filmmaker alone and he/she had to be the only person in and off camera. An exception was stock footage, which was allowed.
At the time, I was watching “Money Heist” (La Casa de Papel) on Netflix, so their intro with a miniature model was very present in my mind. The “Game of Thrones” intro sequence, which uses a CG miniature model “look-alike”, was also at the back of my mind, because I loved that show and it lasted for years. Since I've been an architecture student in the past, building a miniature model doesn't scare me. I've built several of them and I still have some balsa wood and cardboard leftovers lying around at home. So I started flirting with the possibility of making an intro based on a miniature and I got my first decent idea: an architect (whose face we would never see) is building a miniature house and, at the end, he places vertical bars on the windows; so we see that he is, in fact, building a prison. It's obviously a metaphor for us being imprisoned in our own homes.
On that same day (or maybe it was the day after), I got my second decent idea: a guy is doing his morning routine for what looks like a normal day of work, but, at the end, we see that he is working from home and he didn't even bother to dress below the belt. It was a more light-hearted comedy concept. This idea had a small problem: the apartment I was renting at the time was small, old and pretty ugly. It didn't look cinematic at all. Anyway, I went to sleep with both ideas at the back of my mind and let my subconscious work on them. On the next day, I had my Eureka moment: what if I join both ideas in one? It could be done, if the guy from idea #2 lived inside the miniature model that was being built by the architect in idea #1. So the architect became more like a huge god-like figure. You could think of him being a metaphor for the virus or the government, confining people to their homes. Either way, it was a winning idea for me. Ironically, it ultimately led me to my doom.
In order to pull it off, I had to chromakey all the shots of my remote worker character, which means that all the shots of the video would suddenly become VFX shots. Plus, I had to do all of this in one week, as the deadline was approaching. I worked as hard as I could, with a few hours of sleep. The miniature was built in 2 days and shooting was about 2 days too. I used a small chromakey backdrop, which was lit by two Fovitec fluorescent heads with softboxes: one on each side to try to eliminate shadows as best as I could. Then, there was the editing... And that was the real problem! It was just too time-consuming. In the end, I couldn't deliver a decent cut and I was really frustrated. All this work for nothing...
Finally, I forced myself to finish the video and spent about 2 more weeks polishing the edit. I posted it online, got some pats on the back from friends and family; but not a lot of attention. I was tired, sad and I didn't want anything to do with it. I didn't want to make tutorials or “making of'' videos and I didn't even know if it was good enough to be shared online. I think I went to a dark place for a while. Soon after, I got back to work and it was business as usual. It wasn't until now, one year later, that I decided to reopen the project's folder and start doing some “behind-the-scenes” stuff. I posted this side-by-side comparison on Facebook, where I showed the original chroma shot and the final shot, and people loved it. Suddenly, I had people from Israel telling me they were really inspired by my work and wanted my advice! Things like that. I guess the video by itself didn't really impress people. What did impress them was understanding that it was done in such a frugal way, with gear everyone can afford, like the Fovitec soft lights.