T H E   M A K I N G   O F   T H E   O R E

From the start, Sam and Jesse agreed not to spend more than five thousand dollars producing The Ore. They felt confident in their ability to bring in a high level of production value for very little money, due to their industry experience and team of dedicated collaborators.

The film ended up costing $3,033.

Crew: Everyone who worked on The Ore did so without compensation — only those who felt a deep passion for creating a unique film were involved. Sam and Jesse acted in most key capacities, including producing, cinematography, editing, sound design, and visual & practical effects. Vincent Fatato, an old friend of theirs, was brought in to lend his extensive skill as fight choreographer. A roster of good friends and colleagues stepped in to help with grip, sound, and transportation duties. Composer Stuart Balcomb scored the film using a battery of live percussion instruments and an extensive library of samples, including some great sounds from Ilio's Origins collection.

Cast: In March 2006, casting notices were placed in various trade publications in Los Angeles. Casting was held over two weekends, and yielded in the discovery of Shaula Chambliss (Elsa), Jeff Doba (Varkaus), and Ken Lyle (Finn). Other roles were filled by excellent and dependable actors that Sam and Jesse have worked with numerous times, such as Gregory Lee Kenyon (Silvan), Ralph Lister (Errol), and Earl Carroll (Duncan). Five-year-old Bryn Owen makes his acting debut as the fought-over child, Kaslin.

Locations: Half of the film was shot in the Angeles Crest mountains, an hour's drive north of Los Angeles. Temperatures were bearable, but halfway through each shoot day, the fog would roll in. Maintaining continuity was a challenge, and resulted in many hours of post-work compositing fog into "clear" shots. Each day in the mountains meant hauling many hundreds of pounds of equipment over rocky paths to remote destinations.

For a key scene in the film, a location resembling an opera house lobby was required. After much searching for an appropriate and affordable spot, the team found the Hollywood Methodist Church, which has a gorgeous lobby area with detailed stonework. The church was kind enough to let the crew film there for only $500 — a pittance compared to most LA location fees.
A number of scenes called for environments that were prohibitive to build. These scenes were shot in front of a green screen environment in Sam's apartment. In a 600 square-foot area, 15' of chromakey fabric was raised and lit with a series of Britek studio lights. For some scenes, such as the Council Chambers, a half-set was built in front of the green, and extended later in post using motion trackers.

Props & Costumes: A previously-attached costume designer had dropped out just weeks before filming, so Sam and Jesse had to fill the gap. They quickly visited a number of rental facilities, and were fortunate to find a few unique items — however, most of the costumes and props would come from an exhaustive search of thrift stores, garage sales, and specialty stores. Elsa's jacket, for instance, was a bastardization of a thrift-store find, then half-destroyed with weathering and tearing. Varkaus' energy gauntlets were the result of rubber kitchen gloves and chopped-up bits of plastic and wiring from a children's toy.

Equipment: The Ore was shot on the Panasonic HVX-200A HD camera, which stores data on P2 memory cards instead of tape. The production company that Sam and Jesse work for, L2Digital, generously loaned them use of the camera for the shoot. To keep the film's visuals exciting, various production tools were used to keep the camera moving in interesting ways: a Glidecam CamCrane was often employed because of its range of motions and ease to transport. Lighting involved the use of a series of Britek studio lights, including two 250W and one 2K (that kept blowing out the fuses in Sam's apartment). Location lighting was more difficult, requiring the use of Photoflex bounce cards and silks.

Editing: The film was cut on an Apple G5 workstation using Final Cut Pro HD. It is being finished in 720P HD resolution, so the quality can be taken advantage of in the upcoming formats of HD-DVD and Blue Ray, not to mention digital projection. Thanks to detailed planning and storyboarding ahead of the shoot, the final cut was quickly locked a couple of weeks after wrap.

Visual Effects: Over 200 visual effect shots were created for the film. Nearly every trick in the trade was used to give it a definitive style and look, taking up six months of post production. Sam works full time as a VFX supervisor, meaning he had to work nights to complete The Ore's demanding workload.

New techniques were invented to add CGI effects to moving camera shots without the use of motion-control technology. With the help of programs such as Syntheyes, Adobe After Effects, and Cinema 4D, Sam was able to completely re-engineer many of the film's shots to enhance their other-worldly feel. As stated above, many shots in the last half of the film needed digital fog and mist added to match each other, which meant hours of 3D volumetric rendering. Eight more G5 workstations were linked together to form a Render Farm, dividing the task of outputting the high definition effects.

Completion: The Ore Special Edition DVD contains over two hours of behind-the-scene features, documentaries, tutorials, and extra footage. The official website, TheOre.net, has been hosting video podcasts from the filmmakers chronicling their journey, and will continue to do so as the film is released to the public. Sam and Jesse have already been approached by numerous film festivals and events, and they plan on screening the film in as many venues as possible. The possibilities of franchise development, be it for games, film, television, or mobile, are endless.