Blue Ibis Films Short Subject Showcase
August 13, 2011
Tally Ho Theater
Leesburg VA

The Short Subject Showcase featured the three most recent Blue Ibis shorts: HoLT, Schism, and They Came From The Sky. It was a private by-invitation-only event that was warmly received by all attendees.

Event Photography courtesy of Sean Panfil

Press for the Showcase

Blue Ibis Films Takes Flight

Leesburg Today
August 10, 2011
By Samantha Bartram

"Wanna see something really scary?" Those of us old enough to place that iconic line from 1983's Twilight Zone: The Movie likely remember the feelings associated with first hearing it. An uneasy tingle went up the spine and you had the sense something was about to go terribly wrong for poor Albert Brooks. Such is the feeling VIP viewers should expect as they are exposed to a series of short movies from Sterling's own Blue Ibis Films during the Short Subject Showcase Aug. 13.

Blue Ibis owners and creators Matt and Andy Sylvester intend this experience in a good way. "I think [movie making is] the pinnacle of art in this culture. It's got visual, audio, drama-it's got everything," Matt said. The three featured films, HoLT, Schism and They Came From the Sky, have all those things, plus a heaping helping of that Twilight Zone-esque feeling. The dark, sci-fi/horror dramas each take a different angle, but all track toward the frightening, the bizarre, the uncertain. "I think definitely the darker side of filmmaking is where the majority of my creativity lies, and Andy's, too," Matt said.

Blue Ibis Films Takes Flight

Initially billed as Sylvester Brothers Productions, the pair's first film creations stuck exclusively to the comedic realm. Although more than 10 short films sprang from that effort, the brothers found little traction for their work. "My brother and I have a strange sense of humor-our jokes are pretty esoteric. A lot of people don't get the jokes, even though it's incredibly funny to us," Andy said. That's when their focus started to change. "We're goofy, but we're also serious about our craft," Andy added, acknowledging the brothers were looking to move in a more serious direction, thematically and in terms of their ultimate goal: making feature-length films.

The Sylvesters had come to the realization that movie making was the ideal way to combine their love of art, music and drama, plus their accumulated business savvy (both had extensive experience in music production, graphic design and business before moving to film), with the influences of writers and directors they both revered and respected. Authors like H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King, and directors including Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola and Ridley Scott heavily influenced the brothers' creative processes, helping them produce the "clog" of scripts and concepts that are now fueling Blue Ibis Films.

The first title released under the newly revamped production company, Haunted, combined the familiar territory of comedy writing with the new experience of working with a larger crew and more intricate project. "We really wanted to do a process test. We were involved with a bigger cast, crew, multiple cameras... we had a lot of time in post-production. We had never done that before," Matt said. The 20-minute short spoofs a reality television-style show about haunted houses, complete with "sexual deviants and homicidal maniacs." But that might've been the last chuckle to rise out of Blue Ibis' creations for a while. Sifting through their "mountain of written material," Matt and Andy found their focus shifting to the heavier stuff.

Short Subject Shivers...

First up Aug. 13 at the Tally Ho Theatre-based showcase is HoLT, short for Holographic Life-form Technology. In it, the Sylvesters explore themes of artificial intelligence, alternate worlds and the fragility of the human mind. Schism delves deeper into the psychological stuff in a suspenseful thriller that leaves viewers questioning who they can trust. Here several twists and turns obscure who is really responsible for leaving behind a wake of gruesomely murdered bodies. Finally, They Came From the Sky boils the human experience down to the basic struggle for survival. Earth is being taken over by monsters from another world, and a small group of human survivors must decide who among them lives or dies. Look for a special piece in the Aug. 19 issue of Leesburg Today for more on these films and on the showcase.

It's all pretty chilling stuff, but that's exactly what Andy and Matt are gunning for-that and a shot at moving into the big time. "To be clear, we're both in this to make feature films," Matt said. "Making short films is all about moving on to make feature films and getting our name out there. Whatever it takes to make that happen."

Final Destination

At present, the Sylvesters have their sights set on producing what they think could be their first feature-length independent film, Cydonia 6. They've got the script, the location and many actors already lined up; all they need now is the funding. "The reason why we're pushing for Cydonia 6 is it's ideal for a low-budget independent feature for a couple of guys like me and Andy...we see it as an ideal first go," Matt said.

"The script was written and produced around efficiency being one of the key things. Neither of us has made a feature before and it's very difficult to go to someone and ask for a couple million dollars [to make it]. We designed the script and production for maximum return for minimum investment. To me that takes real skill-to take very, very little and make a very, very big thing out of it. That's very difficult," Andy added.

The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic prison camp administered by a ruthless ex-convict and his minions. Prisoners are fed the same food throughout their lives. Men and women are kept separate, and nobody really knows what's going on because of the psychoactive drugs they've been fed since childhood to keep them docile and ignorant. When one inmate finds a shocking note, everything changes. The remainder of the plot follows two men on their quest to stay alive and escape a horrible fate.

When an investor is found for Cydonia 6, the Sylvesters plan to continue to keep things local, just as they have for the other Blue Ibis productions. "We produce locally as much as we can. We've been here a long time, we know the area fairly well and we know a lot of people around here... They Came From the Sky was shot in Herndon," Andy said.

"Cydonia 6 is going to be shot near Richmond... we've stayed local because that's where our resources are," Matt added. "We want to make it as easy as possible for the actors and our production team-we've been working with them for a while, and we're all kind of in this together."

In the shorter term, Blue Ibis is also preparing to film a television pilot, but that's something the Sylvesters are tight-lipped about. "We can't talk about the concept now because we're in the middle of getting money going for it, and we're really protective of the concept. You could describe it as a one-hour reality TV show along the lines of educational, inspirational and interesting," Matt said. In the event the pilot does get picked up, production for Cydonia 6 could be waylaid, but "we're comfortable with that," Andy said. "[Production for Cydonia 6] is predicated on how well the TV pilot does. If the pilot gets picked up, Cydonia 6 might get shelved for a year. We're going to prep to shoot [Cydonia 6] in the spring, change the business plan, change the pitch a bit and continue to pursue funding."

Blue Ibis Films Enjoys Well-Attended Premiere

August 17

Just under 100 movie goers, actors, behind-the-scenes experts and supporters turned out to the Tally Ho Theatre Aug. 13 for Blue Ibis Films' Short Subject Showcase.

Much mixing and mingling preceded the screening of three short films: HoLT, Schism and They Came From the Sky. The audience reacted with laughter, gasps, cheers and claps at seeing the hard work of Blue Ibis owners and creators Matt and Andy Sylvester, not to mention their loyal cadre of actors and crew members, lit up large on the big screen.

Detailed information on all Blue Ibis activities, including ongoing work on the feature-length film Cydonia 6, can be found at