Nicola Poivesan Directing Cyber Octapuses

*Indie Film Production

I caught the 'Attack of the Cyber Octopuses' Kickstarter campaign early on, and it immediately got my attention. I backed it  and started sharing on Social Media right away.

As time went on I became more and more impressed with the campaign, and the man running it. Filmmaker & Director Nicola Piovesan put  a lot of work and effort into setting up a good looking project and trailer that sparked interest and inspired many supporters.

With a lot of hard work and a bit of luck, the project got its full funding in its final week, plus  a few stretch goals. 

Now, a few months later, the completed film is about to be sent out to the initial backers. 

I reached out to the mastermind, Nicola Piovesan himself, to ask  about his process and get the inside details on the filming of 'Attack of the Cyber Octopuses'.

He was kind enough to answer all my questions via email, and here they are for you.

Instead of asking 'Why did you make a film?" (because I know you're a Filmmaker & its what you do) I'll ask..... Why THIS film?  What was the original Inspiration & Concept?.......& did you know you wanted 'Sci-Fi' first... or was 'Octopuses' first, & then you decided they would be good in a Sci-fi??

Well, I've done many different things in my career, from comedies to documentaries, from music videos to commercials, but I've always loved Sci-Fi. A year ago (it was Summer 2016) I came up with the idea of making an 80s cyberpunk b-movie. Initially I wanted to call it "Attack of the Cyber Shrimps", second title was "Attack of the Cyber Crabs", then I figured out that "Octopuses" were the right choice! The very first idea was more "trashy" and "cheesy", but with time it became something more serious, more Blade Runner than Kung Fury, even if I kept some funny moments, typical of 80s blockbusters.

When you have an Idea for a Film, how does it happen? Does it hit you as a quick flash & you see the whole thing, or do you have a small concept & you need to build it & write it over time??

I usually have an initial idea, then with time something very sketchy and rough starts to become more elaborate. It's like sculpting from a big block of marble: you have just this block at the beginning, you see inside that block a figure - the statue - that is not there yet, then with time you chip a piece off, then some more, etc etc. until you reach the final result.

3)  [1,2,3]
Tell me about 'Principal Photography'.... Actually in 3 parts. 
A) First about shooting the initial Trailer you used in the Kickstarter Campaign.
B) Second about shooting the real film.
C) Third, about shooting the 'Second Unit' in Japan. (did you sneak around doing a 'Guerrilla Shoot' acting like tourist? or did you have to get a Permit & have a 'Real Set'?) 
-Generally I'm wondering about the size of your Cast & Crew, & how many cameras did you use.... What cameras did you shot on?

A) We shot a teaser in a couple of days, enough to edit 1 minute and having some cool photos to introduce the characters. It was made very cheap and roughly, but the final result was good and I think it had a big role on showing our skills. We made it with a Sony A7s II and a super limited crew.

B) For the actual film we had more time to prepare things (but still not enough! Consider that from the end of the campaign to the shooting there was only one month!) and we also had more equipment: many companies from Estonia liked the project and helped us for free, giving us equipment, like a RED Epic camera, a good set of lights, a dolly, etc. Crew was little bit bigger, but still small for this kind of project and budget, forcing us to work 16 hours a day for the 6 days of shooting!

C) In Tokyo we shot "Guerrilla style", without permission, but if you shoot in public streets without bothering the traffic or the local activities, you don't risk anything. Our crew was very small, just me, my DoP, a camera operator, sound guy and few actors. We couldn't take the RED Epic there, so we shot with an URSA mini.


During the shooting process, what was your 'worst moment', greatest challenge or technical difficulty?

The biggest challenge was time and cold... Having a small crew and super low budget (especially for a film like this), as mentioned already we were forced to shoot 16 hours a day, mainly in cold environments (we shot in April and for Estonia is still kind of winter, temperature was around 0° C). It was very very though. Many crew members and actors were complaining for the long shifts and low temperature, but everybody knew the shots were amazing and that gave us the energy to carry on.


What was your 'Best Moment', the funniest thing, or a fun day.... or maybe something that was particularly rewarding? A scene that turned out amazing, or a particular shot that you are proud of? (you can have 5 answers to this question if you want)

Probably one of the most funny moment was in Tokyo, after the end of the shooting, drinking, singing and celebrating with some random locals in a small bar, but was very touching. Also, shooting in an old and abandoned Soviet theater in Estonia. A huge building with futuristic architecture where we've been for three days, in the cold... Despite the tough conditions, that place was magic somehow.

The Practical Effects... I saw your great City shots in the Kickstarter. I know you did some more for the actual film (which I haven't seen yet).  I have a feeling theres some interesting details about the 'Octopuses' & I also saw some cool images with Costumes & Makeup.  I'll try to put up a link to one of your 'City Building' Videos.....


How / Who helped, with the 'Octopuses'? What can you Tell me about the 'Octopuses'?

I designed the Octopuses myself with a 3D software, then 3D printed at home with a budget printer by Wanhao. Basically I entirely made the first prototype by myself. Then for the actual film a company from Spain, managed by Alex Tutusaus (one of our main supporters), helped me a bit for the huge amount of 3D printing, while at home I was printing more with my Wanhao Duplicator.
The city was made gluing together junk and painting it plus adding LEDs. I made myself many buildings, then some other guys helped me. Let's say 50% is made by myself, for the other 50% I had the help of 3-4 guys.

I also built the main weapons, starting from Nerf guns, as well as the flying vehicles, starting with existing models, on which I applied some modifications (as the flying engines). Also for the guns and other models, I managed mainly alone with the help of a couple of guys. 
What about Costumes & MakeUp? How did you handle that, & was it challenging?

For the costumes it was mainly a big work of research. Evelin, our costumes designer, made a great job wandering around second hand shops of Tallinn, finding the perfect clothes for our characters. Different pieces that combined gave us a truly 80s science fiction feeling.
Some more elaborate ones were provided for free or for a cheap price by some online companies, especially the masks, visors, gauntlets and so on, from companies such as, Timmy Hog, Illumi-Nation, etc.

MakeUp was very challenging, especially for the cyber eye of Maverick. It takes a lot of time to make it properly and with our tight schedule it was tricky to manage it in the best way! But I guess that Sigrit, our make-up artist, did a great job.

Your Kickstarter campaign was excellent. I was lucky to catch it early, & I was a huge fan of the whole thing. I know it was a long hard campaign. I watched you really work your a$$ off, doing it with great engagement & a lot of updates.
I'm sure you could write a whole book about the crowd funding process.... & I'm not asking you to get into so much detail here. I really admire the fight you put up to make this film happen, & thankfully you 'won', you successfully got your funding. So I'll ask, briefly....

Aside from actually getting the money (which, of course is great).... are there any other benefits to running a crowd fund? Did you grow your fan base or make some contacts in Social Networking that you're happy about?

Running a campaign like that, without any marketing strategist, no big company behind it or good amount of money, was a 24/7 job!! Very stressful but also very exciting, especially in the last 2 weeks of the campaign when we went close then reached the goal. The first few weeks were very tricky and I was afraid I would not manage. That would have been a pity considering all the efforts... So I tried to invent every week something new, to keep the interest about the project, releasing new updates and new content (videos, tutorials, pictures, music videos, etc).
Besides reaching the Kickstarter goal, the whole campaign was a good way of promoting myself, growing the fan base (especially on Facebook) and being in touch with a lot of wonderful people from all around the world that later helped us with the film in many aspects (from the music to the VFX, from crafting the models to the storyboard, etc). Many people who collaborated in the project were just fans of the film that I met online during the campaign!

Secondly, (& I'm not asking for step by step instructions or something too long)
Is there any kind of basic tip for crowd funding that you would mention?  Was there anything that was really challenging, or that you were surprised to learn when crowd funding?

I'm really not an expert about crowd funding... What I know for sure is that a campaign doesn't work by itself. You need to push everyday, contact people all the time, make new contents, being online, write on social media, etc etc... it's a 24/7 hard job! Of course you need to have many creative ideas and also have some friends helping you (I was lucky to have Evelin, Caterina, Jonas and especially Angelo, who was some kind of good strategist, especially in the last 2 weeks of campaign).

Getting back to the film.... You're in Post Production now...

What Post Production Tools are you using? Do you have a favorite editing software or system?

I mainly use Adobe products, from Premiere to After Effects, Photoshop, etc. I can use different softwares (Final Cut, Sony Vegas, AVID, etc) but my truly favorite one is Premiere, plus various third party plugins, both for Premiere and After Effects.

Are you doing much compositing & VFX on this Project? or did you try to handle everything as a 'practical effect' in camera, & now you are mostly cutting the footage?  Maybe some Color Grading?

Everything in this project is made in the 80s style. So we shot everything in real locations and with practical effects. But this doesn't mean that you don't have to do anything in post-production... the opposite! Even when using practical effects, you have to do A LOT of job in post-production to compose all the shootings, like for example putting a city miniature model outside of a real window, or the model of a flying car traveling through real skyscrapers and things like that. Furthermore there is also some CGI, especially for the cyberspace trip, but again, made in truly 80s style. And of course a bit of grading, even though the raw material was already pretty great.

Finally, You're about to 'Launch' the film.... What do you hope to do with this film & what is your long term Distribution Strategy?  Are you going to have a Premiere Screening in Italy/Estonia?  Are you sending it to Film festivals for a while?.... & how/when will you put it up online for the public to see??

There are different stages of the "distribution". First of all I'll send the film to my Kickstarter backers (both on digital download and bluray). At the same time I'm sending it to some film festivals around the world. To some I've already sent and I hope to have a world premiere in some big festivals. For the first months the film hopefully will travel around and after few months of festivals I will also publish it on YouTube, Vimeo and other platforms online, open to the public... I really hope to get enough attention with this film to have the possibility to make a feature out of it!

Thanks soo much Nicola, I'm sure we're going to have a lot of interested readers. I know a lot of 'My People' over here in America really enjoyed your Campaign & are looking forward to seeing the finished Film.

Do you have any final thoughts for other Filmmakers & your admirers here in the states? Any words of wisdom?

I would like to thank all the people who believed in me and contributed on the Kickstarter campaign. Making this film was like a dream and it was possible just with the help of all the backers out there! I'm sure they won't be disappointed with the final result!


If you'd like to follow Nicola and 'Attack of the Cyber Octopuses' on his Website or Facebook, you can find him here:

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Content by EMG-Pac

Content by EMG-Pac