Friday, August 24, 2018

HollyShorts: The Beacon - Christopher P. Purdy & Chris Staehler Interview

Photo Credit: JBN Media

Chris Staehler - Director/Co-Writer/Visual Effects Supervisor
Chris Staehler is a visual effects professional in with over 30 credits in TV and film. Some of his most prestigious work includes that on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Independence Day 2, Noah, and The Walking Dead. Aside from visual effects, Chris also has experience as a director. His short film,The Note, screened at film festivals across the US and won several awards including a Cine Golden Eagle. With his talent and network of skilled professionals in the film and TV work, Chris is uniquely poised to bring the story and visual effects of The Beacon to life. You can see some examples of his work here:

Chris Purdy is a cinematographer based in Los Angeles.
Whether he's shooting something commercial, narrative, or experimental, Chris strives to uncover the soul of a story, and to develop a unique cinematic language of memorable images that articulate the Director's vision truthfully.

Chris feels at home shooting on 35mm and 16mm film or any digital format, but cameras, sensors, and lenses are not as exciting to him as the story being told. Although using the latest technology is an important and enjoyable part of the craft, Chris aims for simplicity in his approach to lighting and composition.

Raised in the Midwest, Chris began shooting at a young age. After getting his BA in Film Studies from Purdue University, he went on to complete his MFA in Cinematography at Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. He now lives in Los Angeles, but travels often for work and adventure.

Work on "The Beacon" began almost 2 years ago in 2015. Starting with an outline and some concept art, Chris Staehler (Director) pitched the idea to Chris Purdy (Director of Photography) and before long, their team had grown exponentially. During the Fall and winter of 2015, the Chris's worked on developing the story with Co-Writer, David Quandt into a full fledged short film. In May 2016, pre production was full throttle. Costumes were being made, casting was being decided on and scheduling began for a 12 day shoot at the beginning of July. Filming for "The Beacon" began July 11th, 2016 at Laurel Canyon Stages. Shooting lasted 4 days with a daily crew of up to 40 people and included some of the most complex staging and lighting gags of the entire shoot. After Laurel, the production took a day off to relocate to Anaheim, where we set up shop in an AirBnB for a quick 2 day shoot covering the opening of the film. A second day off followed our AirBnB shoot as we once again relocated and prepared for our final stage of shooting at Chapman University. Utilizing the sound stages and the prop/set department, we concluded our shoot in a 4 day hurricane of activity. Nearly 3 of these days took place on a green screen stage which proved to be a fun but challenging experience for both actors and crew.

Over the next several months, work began on editing the film down to a reasonable size. In January 2017, we began to approach a near locked edit and started the lengthy process of post production and visual effects. The film has over 240 visual effects shots including some that are entirely CGI. With only a handful of artists, we completed the visual effects in the Summer of 2018.

We are immensely proud of the film we have been able to make on so little. We sincerely hope you enjoy it as we take it around to festivals. Keep up to date on screenings and more information through our social media pages.
We are very excited to share the Beacon with you and hope you enjoy not only the final product, but the story of our journey as it unfolds.

The Beacon is set in the far future where humanity has spread across a large portion of the Milky Way galaxy, Mark and Kara Verne are both young shipping pilots struggling to make ends meet. When Kara goes missing months after taking a large interstellar contract, Mark travels to the far reaches of the galaxy in search of his wife.

Jason Pethtel - Matte Painter/ 3D Artist
Jason Pethtel is an Emmy Award winning professional matte painter in Hollywood. He has worked on visual effects for a variety of high end projects including Game of Thrones and 300 Rise of an Empire. Not only is Jason an amazing matte painter, but he also has valuable skills as a 3D generalist. This puts him in a fantastic position to bring his 2D matte paintings of The Beacon to life. You can watch his work here:

Andreas Widegren - Music Composer
Andreas Widegren is a classically trained guitarist, composer and orchestrator from Sweden known for The Last Immortal, Psychos (2015) and Troy (2015). You can hear more of his work here:
Damien Kelly ― Mark Verne
Damien Kelly plays Mark Verne, husband of Kara Verne. Mark is a local system shipping pilot running supplies in the solar system. He has a limp from an old injury that sometimes gives him trouble, but he powers through it to make ends meet.

Kylie Contreary ― Kara Verne
Kylie Contreary plays Kara Verne, wife of Mark Verne. Kara is a shipping pilot like Mark, running mostly local runs. She has always wanted to make longer, interstellar runs, especially to the core worlds, but has yet to get a break. Her and Mark's busy schedule keep them apart for long lengths of time just to make ends meet.

Claire Montgomery ― Judy
Claire Montgomery plays the jaded port authority agent on Rylar Station known as Judy. No one is sure of when she came to the station or from where, but her indifference and coldness have made her an ideal agent for the ruthless shipping companies to protect their interests. However she is not above making a little extra cash by selling information for money.

Eric Snow ― Kal Langford
Eric Snow plays the hardened roughneck, Kal Langford. A dockworker and shiphand, Kal has been on Rylar Station his whole life. He keeps to himself and is wary of anyone asking for him as he regularly engages in illegal activity to make some extra cash.

Christopher P. Purdy and Chris Staehler on the Red Carpet with JBN Journalist, Rachel Litfin.


HollyShorts takes place August 9-18, 2018 at the TCL Chinese Theater, Harmony Gold Theater and other locations in Hollywood. Nearly 400 short films will compete for the festival’s top prizes. Last year HollyShorts finalists included 3 out of the 5 Live Action Oscar nominees and the winning short Silent Child from Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton. This year, HollyShorts received an all-time record 5,000 submissions from over 80 countries. The competition will feature Live Action, Animation and Documentary Shorts as well as web series, student shorts, music videos, TV pilots, and VR. The festival also features a screenplay competition where the winning short gets greenlit, shot and shown at next year’s festival courtesy of Seattle Film Summit.

Video/Edit: James Vallesteros (@jamesvallesteros). Audio: Edward Chung

HollyShorts Film Festival is an organization devoted to showcasing the best and brightest short films from around the globe, advancing the careers of filmmakers through screenings, networking events, and various panel and forums. The Oscar Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival showcases the top short films produced 40- minutes or less. Categories include Short Animation, Short Live Action, Short Documentary, Music Video, Webisode, Commercials, TV, and Digital Microbudget.
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