Even though Matcek and Presant set up boundaries within the visual approach and the effects, in terms of the scope of the story itself, Matcek wanted to blow the audience's minds and break their hearts. "From the story form standpoint, I gave myself no limits," says Matcek. "I created these characters, and however they existed, I wanted the idea to be as big as possible because I knew visually it was going to be grounded in reality as much as it could be."
A solid prep schedule for the team was key to their success on a six-day shoot in 11 locations. "We were integrating all the post effects into the production while we were shooting," says Presant. "At every point, Trevin knew what he was going for. On a limited budget, you don't have the luxury of going in and finding the thing that you're looking for; you have to go in knowing what it is. It made Trevin and I really efficient with our time."
The final scene, when the son reconnects with his mother after she has been transferred into the Gateway system, is an apt example of their preparation successfully translating into a beautiful on-screen moment. It takes place inside a 12x10 room that looks something like a glowing movie screen box where the son sees his mother and him as a child in hologram form.
The cube had one wall removed with a grid on the floor and one 10K behind each side wall, two 5Ks behind the far wall and a T12 bounced down from the ceiling. Each light was independently controlled so they could make the whole box light up relative to the action occurring in the scene.
"The visuals on the walls were done in post," explains Presant. "The holograms were also done in post, but first we shot them using a sort of poor-man's motion control, shooting the mother and the young son first in the room doing a half-crescent move around them. That was our final setup of the day, and we left the rig and everything in its place. The next day we came in and had the older son stand in his position and did the same move around him. In post, we superimposed the hologram into the room, and that move gives us that 3D perspective."
One of the draws to this short film is the style of the visual palette. It's a very grounded future, not something slick and clean like we see in mainstream science-fiction films.
"For me, it's important to make it feel like what I thought the future was going to look like in 2000 when I was 12 years old," says Matcek. "Everything is stuck in that '80s mode."
To see Life Begins at Rewirement, visit the film's site at futurestates.tv/episodes/life-begins-at-rewirement.