Just short of the legal issues between Sony and Hydraulx, I knew little or nothing about Skyline before going to Hydraulx Visual Effects in Santa Monica, California on a cool Tuesday afternoon. I had seen the trailer online and thought that it looked pretty damn amazing with it’s spectacular effects. What I learned on this visit to this unassuming post house blew my mind.
Upon arrival myself and a parade of journalist were introduced to the Strauss brothers; Colin and Greg and taken on a tour of the facility. Everything from CG, to editing to color correction takes place there. They pretty much do everything besides sound at Hydraulx and own the Hi-Def RED cameras that they used to shoot the movie with. It is because of this that they were able to streamline the project and keep all the production costs down to a minimum. As we toured the large facility we passed by what felt like 100 designers diligently compositing, drawing and animating CG aliens and objects. It really was quite a sight to see, feeling almost like factory of video game nerds, all lined up next to each other row after row…and I mean that in the most loving way possible. It was really cool to see.
After the 20 or so minute tour of the place we are taken to a screening room and treated to a few nearly finished clips of the movie. Not seeing the footage the put out at Comic-Con I wasn’t sure what to expect but I did recognized one of the very impressive shots from the trailer of Eric Balfour and Donald Faison standing on the roof of a building looking at the Los Angeles skyline as the aliens shot down blue beams down onto city. The scene actually continues with a lot of cool aliens flying around and attacking. The next scene we are shown is a majority of the cast including now; Dexter’s David Zayas and Brittany Daniel along with Donald Faison and Eric Balfour from the previous clip. This time they showed us interactions with some of the aliens in a very shocking and impressive scene that I can’t talk too much about but I was quite blown away to see. The aliens themselves are very impressive looking and they do some disgusting things to humans that I’m sure will satisfy some of the more gore hungry of you.
Immediately following the clips a few of the cast members including David Zayas, Brittany Daniel and Donald Faison joined us for a quick Q&A. This is where I learned the most out of the whole little gathering of the day. Unbeknownst to this writer, the entirety of the movie takes place within this large apartment complex, which also happens to be the residence of Colin Strauss, he lives in the penthouse if you’re curious. The film being shot inside a residential building kept their crew down to about twenty people, which is super tiny for something that looks this good. Colin had said that he was inspired by last year’s horror hit, Paranormal Activity to make the movie this way, only this film is super slick look and has Independence Day level, aliens and CG effects. He told us that wanted to cut through the red tape and wasted money of making a film through the studio system and just make a great looking on his own terms without having to answer to anyone by him self. They had only started planning out the film around November of last year and were ready to shoot by May or so. It’s pretty damned ambitious of them to have a one year turn around for something that looks this big!
Amongst all this great stuff we also learned in a humorous manner that Donald Faison had to audition multiple times for the role as he played his character comedic-like for his audition. While the other two actors in the room were pretty much offered their role after a walk around tour of Hydraulx. I honestly don’t know how serious Donald was but the story had the room rolling with his faux anger and being appalled how easy Donald and Brittany had in getting their roles.
Finishing up we were set loose to mingle and hang out with the cast on the balcony. I got to chat with David Zayas a little bit, at first I was just shooting the shit about Dexter since I’m a huge fan. He wouldn’t spill the beans on anything for me though. He did tell me about how most of the cast did their own stunts due to the smaller production and that he had to do a lot of running and he was tired of it… come to think of it I’ve never seen him run on Dexter.
Based on the clips I saw and what I learned from the cast and crew I have to say that they really won me over. From being "the movie that Sony is suing" to "a movie I really want to see". You really have to color this writer impressed and as the afternoon winded down to early evening, I took my leave of the impressive post production house, newly excited for this movie when it comes out in November.