AUGUST 19, 2021
USA | 5 minutes | 2019
Sci-fi, thriller short film directed by Nick Losq
Starring Nevin Millan
While on his long journey home, haunted by the life he abandoned in order to support his family, the Ferryman is violently warped to a mysterious, ancient world. He must now face the ultimate test: succumb to the darkness that invades his mind or continue to fight to honor those he loves, even if triumph comes at a price.
CineAsian Films (CAF): What was the inspiration behind The Ferryman? It reminded us so much of The Odyssey and Odysseus’ journey home.
Nevin Millan: “The Ferryman” short was initially a concept by the director, Nick Losq. I believe his inspiration was loosely from some sci-fi comics he used to read in his youth. He approached me about the concept to see if I wanted to jump on board as the lead actor and eventually as a co-creator. I was drawn to it very much because of the “Odyssey” aspect about it. And it merges my love of those epic historical and fantasy tales with my passion for edgy sci-fi. When we came up with the episodic pilot concept, we pulled a lot from ancient Greek, Sumerian, and other cultures to create a backstory with a lot of depth that fed into the fantasy and science fiction elements. Even the title, “The Ferryman” is pulled from the ancient Greek myth of Charon who ferries souls of the newly deceased across the river Styx that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead. However, above all that is the core story about a space freighter trying to get home to his family. He unfortunately gets caught up in a trans-dimensional sidetrack that we see play out in the short. We have a much longer, deeper story that is perfect for an episodic series, so this short was intended to serve as a proof of concept to garner interest in the larger project.
CAF: The visual effects are stunning! What was that process like and how long did it take to finalize?
Millan: The director, Nick Losq, and the VFX Supervisor, Chris Clyne, are VFX geniuses! The whole look of it came from their brains and I’m constantly humbled by and in awe of what they do. They are magicians. Since this was more of a passion project for all of us, we chipped away at it during off hours, so things moved a little slower than we’d initially planned. The VFX and post took roughly a year or so. They collaborated with a few VFX artists that specialized in certain aspects, from roto to compositing, etc. Since we had Chris on board from the very beginning, he was on set during production and along with Nick, they made sure we were shooting in the most VFX friendly way. I think that helped a lot with being able to capture various FX heavy shots in the most efficient way possible while staying on budget.
CAF: What were some of the biggest challenges shooting a visual effects heavy film?
Millan: The major challenge was capturing what we needed to tell the story effectively while also staying on budget. There were some shoot days that were easier than others, but by far the “weightless in space” shot was the most challenging. We grappled with many different ideas on how to get that shot. And we explored and priced out many of them…from shooting in a water tank to harnesses to renting one of those planes that does high altitude deep dives to mimic weightlessness. In the end we went with the most budget friendly option – camera trickery! I trained on a trampoline and taught myself to contort my body in the position Nick wanted for that shot. Then the idea was to capture that at a super high frame rate (slow motion) and the effect would hopefully turn out as weightlessness. We ran some tests using an iPhone slo-mo mode and were happy with the results, so we went for it. I think it came out great, especially considering the scope of the budget. There are a few other shots like that where we used camera tricks and slo-mo to help sell those moments. Ingenuity helped get over the challenges of high concept budget constraints!
Also, fun fact: My wife and daughter make cameos as the main character’s family. It was really fun to get them involved and see them in the finished product.
CAF: What do you hope people can take away from watching this film?
Millan: I think a theme that resonates is perseverance. From the main character persevering through death and transporting through dimensions on his odyssey, his love for his family perseveres as his guiding light. But this theme transcends not only the story, but the making of the film itself. Through perseverance with determination and collaboration we were able to bring this story off the page from a high concept that seemed daunting and next to impossible given the budget constraints. We hope this film inspires people to persevere to achieve their dreams and goals, whatever they may be.
The Ferryman is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your film.
Director, Writer, Editor: Nick Losq
Producers: Nick Losq, Nevin Millan, Lloyd D’Souza
Cinematographer: Kevin Gosselin
VFX Supervisor: Christopher Clyne
Also starring: Anna Trebunskaya, Amalya Millan
More from Nevin Millan: The Mutation, SUNSET SESSIONS: Never Tear Us Apart (cover)