The “Last of Us” Fan Film Shot with the BMPCC 6K

Check out this recent “Last of Us” fan film and see how far homegrown passion projects have come. It’s certainly hit or miss.

With all the different genres and styles of filmmaking out there, video game adaptations are by far the most inconsistent in quality and frequency of release. When they miss, they really miss, and when they hit . . . well, usually they’re on YouTube.

Recently, a filmmaker decided to say screw it and make one of the better fan films to come out in recent memory.

So, let’s talk about it. Actually, let’s talk about video game adaptations and the power of fan films.

The Trend of Video Game Fan Films

It’s no surprise that video game big screen adaptations have had a rough go of it. I don’t even need to list all the misfires that made their way to the silver screen in recent years because you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Actually, I just want to point out the fact that The Angry Birds Movie 2 has a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. Let’s just sit with that information for a second.

Anyway, it’s hard to take something that gamers experience in a personal and visceral way, and translate that to a screen, making them immediately objective as now they watch how the story plays out with no involvement on their part.

Cut scenes in games are essentially movies, but what gives those cut scenes weight and makes them resonate with us are the moments in-between where we literally inhabit the characters and make our own choices within the framework of the story. *Takes a drag of a cigarette.

For instance, remember the “Uncharted” short film starring Nathan Fillion? What an iconic take on the series.

Personally, I buy Stephen Lang as Sully in this rendition much much more compared to the upcoming big-budget version starring . . . *checks notes . . . Mark Wahlberg? Sigh.

So, why is it so hard for studios to get it right? Well, when you add to the difficulty of translating these stories to the big screen by throwing in out-of-touch studio heads and about 100 different people giving opinions and advice for how something should be, you get a mess.

This is where fan films really shine. These are passion projects made by true fans with specific intentions in mind, and they often do what they want with the material. They don’t have to worry about hitting every demographic with the marketing, because the demographic is the fans—that’s it—full stop. There’s no worrying about appealing to your Uncle Robbie who might buy a ticket if the trailer hits the right beats.

The Ultimate “Last of Us” Fan Film

Do you ever see something on YouTube and think, this is great! Why is it on YouTube? Well, that happened to me the other day when I stumbled upon a fan-made short film based on The Last of Us series.

What’s even more impressive is the fact that it was shot with a bare-bones crew, on a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and an URSA Mini.

So, let’s look at the short shaaaalllll we?

While this is impressive for many reasons, I want to focus specifically on the grit it takes to make something like this. I can’t seem to think of any other way someone can manifest their passion for something greater than getting your crap together and making an actual film—rallying friends and colleagues to help you bring your vision to life. Then, for it to be good is a whole other thing!

So, let’s talk a little bit about what makes this short so inspiring and look at some of the shots to determine how it was made.

To get partial funding for the project, Tommy Jackson started an Indiegogo with pretty much everything laid out in full. He had the cast, crew, props, and locations all worked out. So, clearly, he knew what the project needed so that it could be the best possible version of itself.

Blackmagic Cameras

The Last of Us
Scene from the short film “The Last of Us.” Image from “The Last of Us” via YouTube.

The camera of choice for this short was the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K, but the majority was shot with the 6K. Which is surprising and not surprising, at the same time. Those cameras are just so solid, it’s really quite ridiculous.

Given the location and set design of the shoot, you can tell the rig needed to be light and fairly mobile. Moving through the woods, following the characters as they run around trees, jumping and fighting off “bad guys” would require a minimal shooting setup—think a Ronin S with the BMPCC 6K and that would be enough.

VFX Work

Given the source material, a certain amount of VFX work would have to be included with any type of “Last of Us” material. The story calls for infected—think zombie-esqueaction sequences, as well as monsters with heavy prosthetics.

Take that into consideration and you have to factor in blood splatter, muzzle blasts, stunt work, and practical effects, which is a whole other arena or prep. So, how did Jackson do it? Well, he used Action VFX of course!

Look, we talk a lot on this blog about ways to make these effects and films yourself by including resources that can help you out. Whether its overlays, composited elements like muzzle blasts, or blood packs, there’s something cool about seeing someone actually putting everything to use in a true “DIY” fashion.

So, in the spirit of DIY, here are some FREE assets you might need down the road when working on your own project.

Since the release of the short has clearly been a smashing success (as of this article being published, it currently has over one million views on YouTube), Jackson has since posted Part Two on his channel but has it set to “Unlisted.” You can watch Part Two here. According to Blackmagic themselves, Part Two was shot on a BMPCC 6K Pro, and there’s a Part Three on the horizon that will be shot with an URSA Mini Pro 12K.

Also, I just want to point out that in the credits for Part Two, it looks like Jackson and co-writer/producer Isaac Gonzalez literally did almost everything themselves.

Also, just for your information, these films were edited in Premiere Pro.

For more behind-the-scenes looks at some of your favorite movies and TV shows, check out some past articles:

Cover image from “The Last of Us” via YouTube.

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