Sexbots, a deadpan antihero, a creepy futuristic black market for implants and a psycho-cyborg cliffhanger all get crammed into True Skin, a dazzling sci-fi short that reportedly has Hollywood going nuts.
Six months after a trailer appeared on Vimeo, aspiring feature filmmaker Stephan Zlotescu‘s six-minute short achieved viral lift-off last week after the director’s manager spread the word about the work. “Industry response has been insane,” said manager Scott Glassgold in an e-mail to Wired, citing 230,000 views in five days for the True Skin video (embedded above). “Within hours of release, we were receiving calls from major studios and financiers.”
Glassgold declined to give specifics because he and IAM Entertainment partner Raymond Brothers are engaged in “active negotiations,” he said. “As for what type of deal we want, we want to create the clearest path for Stephan to get his film made. True Skin has the potential to be a franchise not just in film but in videogames and many other media. The last thing we want is for it to die a slow death in studio development.”
Glassgold and company specialize in pitching movies via viral shorts to circumvent the traditional “submit-screenplay-and-pray-for-a-miracle” approach that most first-time feature filmmakers rely on. Two years ago, IAM Entertainment enlisted Texas-based mashup artist Jaron Pitts to create the faux trailer for an English-language version of Serbian sci-fi flick Technotise. The kinetic trailer intrigued Hollywood dealmakers and ultimately resulted in the involvement of Avatar producer Laeta Kalogridis, who is now developing a live-action script for the project.
In an e-mail to Wired, True Skin director Zlotescu name-checked influences including Apocalypse Now, 70-millimeter documentary Baraka and, most obviously, Blade Runner. But where Ridley Scott famously shot his dystopian thriller on an expensive, art-directed soundstage to capture the look of a pollution-decimated Los Angeles, Zlotescu and his team managed to envision the future in the slums of Thailand.
“We filmed 95 percent of the film in Bangkok,” Zlotescu said. “Bangkok itself has an aggressive black market and that location dovetailed nicely with my ideas of black-market implants and sexbots.”