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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Space Nazi Trailers Draw Crowd Funding for Iron Sky

Thanks to a pair of knockout fake trailers, a team of Finnish filmmakers will soon start shooting an outlandish sci-fi Nazi movie financed in part by fans who flipped over the clips.

The first teaser for Iron Sky, embedded below, has pulled more than 1.3 million YouTube views since its release two years ago. The follow-up clip (above), released last month, continued the momentum as the project’s website harvested micro-investments from 52 fans enticed by the spooky-sleek visuals.

The trailers also generated buzz on the strength of the bizarrely original Iron Sky premise: During the closing days of World War II, Nazis in flying saucers escaped to the moon. In 2018, they plan a victorious return to Earth.

With 90 percent of the feature-length project’s $8.5 million budget now funded, casting for Iron Sky is nearly complete, with filming set to begin in Australia and Germany this fall.

CGI maestro Samuli Torssonen supervised Iron Sky’s visual effects after spending seven years working on zero-budget feature Star Wreck. For the Iron Sky trailers, “everything was either shot by ourselves or created by our VFX team at Energia Productions,” Torssonen told in an e-mail. “I think for indie productions it is very important to have in-house creative which can archive visually impressive shots with a decent budget.”

Torssonen relied on Maya 3-D software to craft the trailers’ visual effects. “Every shot was filmed against blue/green screen in a local studio,” he said. “Every shot, of course, also had quite a lot of CGI.”

Fan investments in Iron Sky were augmented by money from 12 traditional financiers, according to producer Tero Kaukomaa of Blind Spot Pictures. “If we are able to make money,” Kaukomaa said, “then the crowd who invested will make money, and if that happens, it will speed up the possibility to fund films totally with crowds.”

But VFX man Torssonen cautions that “fan/community funding is not an easy way out. We didn’t come out of nowhere. We’ve been building our internet community and visibility since 1999, with Star Wreck. You have to invest a lot of time and energy to win the trust of the internet audience. The only way to do that is to deliver good quality. Mediocre stuff just won’t cut it.”

As a hybrid model blending conventional business cash with microdonations from sci-fi zealots, Iron Sky is emerging as the most expensive fan-curated movie to date. As such, it points the way toward a future in which audience and investor become one and the same.

“I think it’s great that the audience can, in some terms, ‘order’ a film that they find cool by investing, participating in the production or donating money,” Torssonen said. “They can give ideas and feedback, become part of the whole process, and finally see a film in theaters that has been tailored for their needs.”