Beyond Black Mesa: Brian Curtin interview

Half-Life inspired fan movie Beyond Black Mesa may be only twelve minutes long, but it’s already generated a huge amount of interest on the internet. In fact, it’s already won the ‘Best Science Fiction’ award at the 2010 AOF festival. Project leader Brian Curtin is most pleased of all, however, with the fact that Critical Gamer asked him for an interview.

Er, maybe.

CG: When and how did you come up with the idea to base a movie in the Half Life universe?

Brian Curtin: Well, I’ve played Half-Life and all the expansions, but the idea wasn’t sparked until shortly after playing HL2. The original games had amazing stories and gameplay, but HL2 had a cinematic feel to it. I can’t explain it, but maybe it was a result of the Source engine making everything so beautiful. I think a lot of people around that time started to think, “man, Half-Life should be a movie”. Making short action films has always been a hobby and making a Half-Life movie was the ultimate goal. 2 years ago, a few good friends and I finally accumulated the resources to attempt to make a short HL film. That’s when it started, and little did we know what we were getting ourselves into.

CG: Tell us a bit more about Adrian Shephard and his band of resistance fighters.

BC: Adrian Shephard finds himself once again fighting for his life and this time he’s no longer outfitted in his gas mask and camo. Much like teaming up with the scienists at Black Mesa to survive, he’s joined the resistance to preserve what little remains of the world they once knew. His comrades are brave and help him follow through with his objective to send out a warning transmission.


CG: As a fan yourself, you must be aware of the anger messing with established plot points could bring…

BC: Definitely, we knew that when we started this project. This film is not HL,HL2 or Opposing Forces. It’s a short fan film inpired by HL and takes place in that world. Also, as a completely independent film, we wanted to have a creative voice in the movie and make it a movie that we would enjoy shooting. We took artistic freedoms and liberties and unfortunately most of those decisions were determined by our limited resources. For instance, most people notice that the zombies in the trailer don’t have headcrabs. Trust me, I really wish we were able to make them work, but they weren’t possible for us. Our options were good looking zombies or stupid looking headcrabs. We figured we’d rather have people say “where are the headcrabs?” rather than “uh, those headcrabs look like crap”.

I hope that explains that our intentions were not to change or disrespect the original storyline. We simply had to modify some things to make the movie possible. It’s very hard to completely and accurately play out the Half-Life story with 6 friends and no budget. That’s where we had to get creative and tried to play to our strengths.

CG: What has the reaction from the Half Life community been like? Any word from the developers or publishers?

BC: I like to think that the majority of the community really likes it. Of course, some will love it and others will hate it. Regardless, I enjoy the feedback. As for Valve, I figured I would never be able to get in touch with them. They seem as mysterious and untouchable as G-man. I imagine you have to be that way with such a large fan base. Luckily, we did get a response and we’re sending them the full short film this week.

CG: How long have you been working on Beyond Black Mesa and how much did it cost?

BC: It’s probably been 2 years since we firsted started thinking about it. That’s a long time for a short film, but remember that we’ve been putting this all together in between full time jobs. The film cost around $1,200. That includes all the gear, costumes, smoke grenades, lights and music. Not including the camera or software.

Photobucket CG: How long does the movie last? Any plans for a sequel?

BC: The full short is about 12 mins. There will not be a follow up movie unless we have funding. As of right now, I think our next project will be an original story.

CG: What are your most memorable moments from the game series?

BC: I fell in love with the game the minute the Sh*t hit the fan in the test chamber. There’s really too many to choose. I do remember spending way too much time running around with the super gravity gun picking up combine and tossing them into anything I could find.

CG: What direction would you like to see Episode 3 take?

BC: I’m not too picky. I know Valve will come up with some crazy twists and send us off to some awesomely dangerous environments. Though I’m hoping we’ll see some new weapons and possibly learn more about the Borealis. Also, for some odd reason I don’t believe that Eli Vance is dead, I think the Vorts are going to bring him back! Most of all, maybe Adrian Shephard will show up to do some damage?

CG: Will you make any more movies in the Half Life universe, perhaps closer to the resonance cascade, or will you be moving on to other projects?

BC: Most likely we’ll be moving on to other projects.

Intrigued? Of course you are! So head over to the official Beyond Black Mesa website right now. Go on, you won’t catch headcrabs.

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Written by Patrick G

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