They Came From The Sky


Project Name: They Came From The Sky
Genre: Narrative Short
Run Time: 14:07 (estimated)
Written By: Matt Sylvester
Directed By: Matt & Andy Sylvester
Capture Format: Sony HDR-Z1U (2)
YouTube: They Came From The Sky

Logline

When the siren sounds, someone must be sent out to be eaten alive by creatures from another world. After three days the six survivors are running out of time, people and options. Who will go next?

Synopsis

An air raid siren drones over blackness. Fade in to Ben's hand shutting the door. Dave, a strong, young man listens as Ben is brutally torn apart by monsters. Rachel, a thin woman with tear-swollen eyes cradles her husband Lee, who clings to life as he soaks in his own blood; a giant bite sized chunk of flesh is missing from his upper arm. Amy, stunned and in shock, holds herself, her dress, body, face and hair are splattered with gore. Jason's head hangs with shame, guilt, depression, and regret. Frank, the owner of the house, looks on with indignant bitterness.

After the monster outside the door drags Ben's corpse away, Frank flippantly asks who goes next, volunteering Dave. When Amy suggests Frank goes next, he reminds everyone that he gave them food, water, and shelter over the past three days. Amy snaps, confronting him on his cowardice when they fought the monster and her boyfriend died. The argument leads to her running to the bathroom and slamming the door. Dave warns Frank not to yell at her again

Lee wakes, blurting out that "they came from the sky" as Rachel eases him back to the floor. As he fades into unconsciousness Rachel explains they saw ships with creatures inside. Lee's wound isn't bleeding much anymore, but the huge pool of blood beneath them indicates bigger problems ahead.

Amy returns from the bathroom and talks about who will go next. Dave wants to talk about an escape plan, but Frank reminds them of the reality of the situation. The planet has been overrun; there is nowhere to escape to. Jason agrees, suggesting they stay and think over their circumstances more. Amy wants Lee to go next, and everyone but Rachel agrees. When Rachel tries to wake Lee, Dave checks his wrist, finding no pulse. Rachel retreats to the bathroom, sobbing, as Jason covers Lee's body with a blanket.

Since the creatures won't take a dead one Lee can't go next, so Frank suggests Rachel volunteer. Dave knocks on the bathroom door, asking her if she would be willing to go next. She doesn't respond so they break in and find Rachel dead, her wrists slit.

Frank and Dave argue over who goes next now that Rachel is dead. Dave blows up, and demands the keys to Frank's truck. Before he can open the door and leave, the siren sounds again. Dave doesn't want to go now, but Amy, Jason, and Frank vote unanimously that he goes. Dave throws Frank out of the open door instead. The sounds of the monster retreat and Dave bolts out of the door. Amy quickly follows, leaving Jason alone.

Jason hears a car start, and watches Dave and Amy drive off. He turns the handle on the door and the siren sounds. He shuts the door and backs into the corner. Heavy footsteps approach the door; the door blows open to black screen and sounds of Jason getting torn apart.

The Story of TCFTS

We dedicated this film to our late grandmother Corice Parker (who is credited as Exec Producer), not only to honor her memory but also because she funded it.

Pre-production began in April 2011 with a search for an appropriate location. We needed something that looked fairly post-apocalyptic; "bombed out" is the term we used when trying to describe a potential place to our associates. We went back and forth over several locations before D.P. Danny Davidson suggested we use the farm house that was used for one of the final sequences in "Schism." It took about five seconds of looking inside to know we'd found the location we'd been looking for.

Then came what we thought would be the hard part: convincing the owner, Lex Loeffler, to let us completely re-paint, board over the windows and doors, build a wall between two of the rooms, install a fake bathroom, and basically take over for a weekend. Luckily, Lex is a great guy and agreed to let us basically do whatever we wanted, provided we have our construction guy build a railing upstairs and remove the boards we hung once we were finished. The house was basically a shell anyway. The only people living in the house were Jay-Bird, the "caretaker," and several squatters who Lex let crash there.

Set construction took place over the course of several weekends. First, of course, the place had to be thoroughly cleaned. There was a patch of horribly filthy carpet to tear out, and inches of dirt and cigarette butts to be swept up. Everywhere you looked there seemed to be another piece of dirt, garbage, or other filth to be cleaned. The photos in the gallery that show rehearsals show the place AFTER preliminary cleaning. We also had to paint every wall we planned to film with a flat grey interior paint, since every visible surface was covered in graffiti. We shadowed with brown, black, and green spray paint. The house had been used not only as a place to crash, but also as a party house. In the year or so before we filmed, some folks close to Danny and Lex had come to untimely ends, and memorial parties had been thrown there. Much of the graffiti was in their memory, so we documented it all before we painted over it.

We dragged the wood we used to board everything up from a collapsed barn in the back field. There were several such structures on the property; the one we cannibalized for window boarding is directly behind the one shown in the approach scene in Schism. It took us less than a day to get the final set finished and dressed, thanks to the Spartan look of the design called for in the script.

The casting call was something we put a lot of thought into before we actually posted it. The last time we'd done a casting call was for "Haunted!", and to be honest it wasn't spectacular. For this project we decided to do it at George Mason University for several reasons. First and foremost, it seemed like a great pool of potential talent, and being a commuter school to a large extent we figured we would be able to pull a wide variety of looks & personalities. To put it mildly, we were right.

Andy, Matt, Danny, Mike, and Merry sat for the auditions, with Matt reading opposing parts. Mike's wife Mara ran check-in at the front desk, and managed the applicants. The auditions were recorded on a Sony mini-DVD cam. After a very long day of auditions, and several hours of footage review, we had our cast.

Rehearsals were done on-set to work through stage direction and camera points, as well as to familiarize the cast with the look and feel of the place. We used two Sony HDR-Z1U cameras for the capture, primarily because of the amount of dialogue but also just for simple coverage. With the amount of dialogue we felt we'd have cleaner edits with two cameras per take.

Special effects makeup was done by Mike Faulkner, and included a cutaway arm for all the bite scenes, wrist slashes on Bette Cassatt for the suicide scene, and of course plenty of blood. The bite and slashes were pre-molded with latex and then applied using spirit gum.

During the shoot, Matt performed primary director duties on the set while Andy watched the monitors & audio levels from a back room, supported by Mike Faulkner (who also was the audio tech) and Script Supervisor Diana Veseth-Nelson. This method of directing turned out to work very well, as was evidenced during the edit. Few & far between were the times that a shot had to be used because it was the only usable one.

Andy & Matt edited "They Came from the Sky" using Adobe Premiere Pro CS4. Matt wrote the soundtrack. The poster, logo, and promotional materials were designed by Andy. Still photography by Danny Davidson and Merry Rose.