View Full Version : Blackout

Andy Olson
10-25-2013, 01:28 AM
Hey everyone!

Totally down to put an entry in this year! Great to have the DVXFest back!

"Blackout" is a thriller/horror story set in a post-apocalyptic world. It follows Kerrigan, a runner of Scout Brigade 153, on her mission to comb the wastelands for useful objects. When her mission goes awry, she finds herself racing against the fading light of setting sun because when darkness comes -- so do the Reapers.

Written and Directed by: Andrew Olson
Produced by: Carrie Cates, David Keslick and Andrew Olson
Casting by: Carrie Cates
Director of Photography: Kin Kwan
Assistant Director: Stacy Clayton
Gaffer: Corey Kline
Sound Recording by: Justine Spinoza and Neisha Harris
Assistant Camera by: Corey Kline & David Keslick
Grip by: Carl Woody, Zeke Martinez, & Kyle Cates
Makeup by: Malorie Dragna & David Keslick
Special EFX Makeup by: Malorie Dragna & Carrie Cates
Wardrobe by: David Keslick and Katha Busk
Stunt Coordinator: John Daley
Composer: Thomas Echols
Edited by: Kin Kwan & Andrew Olson
Visual Effects Supervisor: Kin Kwan
PA: Bob Stacy

Constance Rosado as Kerrigan

Gab Pena as Shepherd

Carly Christopher as Terry

David Keslick as the Officer
John Daley as the Armed Guard
Carl Woody as the Tower Guard

Principal Photography was 6 days beginning October 5th and wrapping Sunday October 20th!

Some BTS and screengrabs to come!

Thanks for reading and hopefully, watching when we have the entry for Horrorfest II!


Andy Olson
10-25-2013, 01:34 AM
Reserved BTS.

Alan H. Chang
10-25-2013, 02:35 AM
Remind me of this.


Andy Olson
10-25-2013, 07:11 AM
Oh Alan... if only... if only I was shooting a Starcraft II movie. That would be amazing!

Alan H. Chang
10-25-2013, 07:39 PM
Oh Alan... if only... if only I was shooting a Starcraft II movie. That would be amazing!

You would indeed draw millions of people to DVXUser, and get more interest into the DVXFests. Seriously, your synopsis is somewhat similar to what Kerrigan was facing against the onslaught of the swarm.

Any grabs?

10-25-2013, 07:57 PM
Remind me of this.


Dude that was awesome! I loved the suit.

10-31-2013, 05:51 PM
I will say of all the films I have watched, this one is BIGGER than a short film. This one feels like a pilot to a television series or possible series. I'll give more specific critic later, but this one, had all the right elements for a solid short film. Well done and where did you come from, dude?!

10-31-2013, 08:12 PM
What Chuck said. Well done!

Zak Forsman
10-31-2013, 08:39 PM
enjoyed this one. your production design and cinematography were killer. actors were solid. and overall, one of the better edited shorts in the fest. The inventiveness of the idea really stood out. would love to see this expanded into a feature.

10-31-2013, 11:03 PM
Loved this! I actually had a similar dream like this once. Now make it feature please :)

Andy Olson
11-01-2013, 01:09 PM
Thanks everyone for watching! I'm glad you guys enjoyed it!

Charli: Thanks for the comments! Part of the reason for making this specific short besides entering the DVXfest was to actually generate interest for a feature film so I'm glad that came across. I've been around dvxuser for a while, but haven't been very active for a while! Thanks again!

Elton: Thanks!

Zak: Thanks for watching! The cinematography was all Kin Kwan's doing with Corey Kline gaffing. Production Design was mostly on David Keslick. I had a really good team taking care of things! I'll definitely pass on what you said to them and also the actors. There are definitely plans to see about turning this into a feature! Been a fan of yours and SABI for a while! Thanks again for watching.

joey46: Thanks! Yes, I think the feature is going to need to be made.


Hawk Teflon
11-02-2013, 11:30 AM

What I liked: Acting, lighting, sound design ... all very solid. I LOVED the music in this. Some really pretty shots in this, too. I like that you didn't go overboard with the coloring, either. It was nice and subtle. The suspense build was really good, too. I like the burn of the reapers as they hit light. The guy playing Shepherd is top notch. Don't lose that contact.

What I didn't like as much: The VO felt like she was reading from a script. There didn't seem to be much emotion to it. I would like to have seen the reapers if only for a second (other than them burning in the light). Lastly, I'm PRETTY sure she picked up an old Sega Genesis and threw it back in the trash pile. She should have kept that in case she came across the AC cord and Sonic The Hedgehog.

I have to say this is one of my favorites from the fest. Very well done. I'm looking forward to the series / feature.

11-02-2013, 11:09 PM
I wanted to comment as well as I really enjoyed this film. I think this is on the top of the list as a great contender. I felt that everything was solid from the set design to story line. You built it up perfect so when the girl was running towards the compound the tension was spot on. I look forward to seeing the feature on this one.

Andy Olson
11-03-2013, 07:20 AM
Hey guys,

Hawk Teflon: Thanks for watching and all the comments! I'll definitely let the crew and cast know!

I had the actress ready the voiceover with very subtle emotion. I wanted it to come across like Sarah Connor's monologue at the start of Terminator 2. We are still in post-production for this project and I was going to try and smooth out the pacing of the VO which I thought was fast since we had the 10 minute limit for DVXFest. There are some more animated takes of the VO and I'll go back through them and try some out to see if they play better!

We are also doing some more post work on the Reapers so they might have more of an appearance in another cut of the short.

That was a Sega Genesis! I only noticed it in post! She needs to get her priorities straight and dig through that pile for Space Harrier or After Burner or at least Shining Force! Thanks for watching!

Nick Ash: Thanks for watching, Nick! I'm glad you dug it!


11-03-2013, 08:39 AM

What worked:

1. 8 seconds into the short you had ACTION and 17 seconds in you developed TENSION and 30 seconds in you created a unique visual with the path of lights.

BRAVO - you captured my attention within the first 30 seconds. I WANTED to see more.

2. While I am not a fan of a fan of "dream sequence" this gave enough info to let the audience know what she was up against without revealing too much. Nice teaser.

3. The detail in which everyone sleeps in the light with bandanas over their eyes, nice touch.

4. I understood that you were trying to capture Sarah Connor's melancholy voice over, and while I am not a fan of narrative, this one worked for me. The V.O. gave me the exposition I needed as the V.O. continued through action sequences as she got her gear on; shot of her credit's list; photo of her sister/friend; and her walk through the fort. Nice use of voice over coupled with action.

5. Dialogue between lead and dynamic character before she runs could have been a little bit more witty, but it worked. I immediately felt they were connected. Good chemistry.

6. Run sequence and music - good.

7. Like your use of good news/bad news to develop drama and tension.

Good news she's almost at camp.
Bad news she just scrapped her leg.
Good news she can still run.
Bad news the lights are going out.
Good news she's got a flare.
Bad news her flare is running out.
Good news she got the motorcycle battery and can get light.
Bad news, light goes out, creatures move in as everything goes dark.
Good news, the battery kicks in and she has light again, creatures die.
Bad news her leg is worse and she's on the move again.
Good news she has a spotlight to guide her and she's made it to the gate.
Bad news the spotlight is gone and creatures are here.
Good news the doors open and the light kills the creatures and she's saved.

BRAVO - This was an excellent use to "hooray" and "oh no!" which kept me interested and captivated. Very well done.

8. The embrace in the end gave that little bit of tenderness that was needed.

What didn't work:

1. It was a bit unclear on my end to see what she was looking through her monocular. Probably would work better on big screen or maybe that's how you wanted it. Dunno.

2. She's 2 clicks out - convert that to miles that's 1.24 miles. Though she's been running for a while, I think I would have felt more tension had she been 5 or more miles out. I use to run the mile in high school. Even when tired a long distance runner can run a mile in under 10 minutes. I know it's nitpicking, but it's understanding long distance running and what is too difficult to accomplish; 2 clicks isn't that bad because she should catch her second wind just out of fear, push that adrenaline and get to the gate under 10 minutes.

3. A runner also in danger would not stop running to communicate, though I know it's difficult to film on the run, that again, it's just a trifle to note. We use to talk during a mile, so I know it's not that big a deal.

4. Had she not stopped to catch her breath during the radio communication, she would then have NEEDED to take a break under the light. Taking 2 breaks did not work for me.

5. Bandaging her leg should have been done when she had hooked up the battery and had light. Bleeding leg does not keep you from running, not running keeps you from running. She wasn't bleeding out, so that was an unnecessary stop and at that point her leg was not an issue.

6. Dynamic character knocked unconscious was not needful. You just point the gun and remove the man from his post and keep him detained. You would have created a tremendous amount of tension with his need to escaped to help her coupled with her need to escape the darkness.

7. Shooting the spotlight was unnecessary and a conflict with the need for materials. You simply turn the switch off. While not as "action worthy" these people are in survival mode. You cannot "destroy" a spotlight for one runner or any runner. Keep true to the environment of survival and lack of supplies. You can't waste anything.


Having said all of the above this is by far one of the if not THE best short film I've seen during these fest. Only a few shorts that I have seen felt "bigger" than a short film. This could be an independent film or a TV pilot. I vote for the latter because there are so many situations you can put multiple runners into during their outings for supplies.

This was done well and I would tighten up some spots and toss this out to some film festivals to try to get attention for production. In my opinion "Blackout" is best of the fest and with a future beyond here. I wish you the very best of luck and thank you for putting out such a great flick.

Again, where have you been because this little puppy rocks!

Andy Olson
11-04-2013, 12:19 PM
Hey Charli,

Thanks for your review of Blackout! It means a lot that you took the time to write out what you thought and I appreciate that! I'll try and comment on the things that didn't work for you.

1. Yes, I did want the monocular to play a little ambiguous. Part of this might be also from the fact that the dome that you see in the monocular is actually a smaller dome at the location that we did shoot a scene in but cut from the DVXfest version to save time. Maybe in another cut we'll include it and that monocular shot will make more sense.

2. She is supposed to be very close to the fort, but what might not sell 2 clicks being far enough is that it's fairly light outside still. We were supposed to shoot that scene when it was darker, but with schedule constraints we shot it at dusk. So although 2 clicks is not very far, it was supposed to be that she was already out of time. That being said 5 clicks or 10 clicks would have probably been better anyway just to reinforce that 'she's not gonna make it.'

3. You hit it on the head. With out location, we couldn't get the necessary equipment (a truck) out to the spot to shoot the conversation while moving. That and time constraints made us shoot it with her stopping.

4. You're right about this. We had shot this scene before the other you mentioned in #3 and missed reshooting or finding a workaround. We might be able to play with it a little in recutting and see what we can do.

5. I think it might have been unclear in the film that when she bandaged her leg she was actually under a safety light that was on. This was because we didn't have time to shot an establishing shot of her flare going out as she reached that last safety light.

6. I agree this could have worked better, but feel we had similar tension since the dynamic character was unconscious and the audience knew he was the only one that was trying to help her. I do have a slight problem with the move of the dynamic character getting hit might have been an over-reaction though and that simply detaining him may have been a more appropriate course of action.

7. This is something I was afraid of. It's unclear in the shot we used, but the guard actually shot the cable connected to the light! I was actually going to cut that shot of the guard shooting completely from this edit and just have the spotlight turn off implying someone pulled the plug. BUT some time and effort had been put into the muzzle flash and cable falling efxs so I thought it would be a good test to see if those played well or not. I probably should have gone with my gut and cut those shots! :)

Thanks again, Charli for your awesome comments and critique. This sort of feedback is exactly what filmmakers like me need when making their movies! I'll definitely take everything to heart as I revisit the edit to improve the film!


Matthew B
11-05-2013, 01:58 AM
Nice job Andy. A cool little story that definitely felt as though it was a part of something bigger. Loved the production design - Did you build that BTW? Regardless, it was quite enjoyable, with some solid performances. Though I did feel as though you leads were too clean and pretty for the situation in which they were in. Overall though, well done.

Michael Anthony Horrigan
11-06-2013, 09:59 AM
Nice job Andy. A cool little story that definitely felt as though it was a part of something bigger. Loved the production design - Did you build that BTW? Regardless, it was quite enjoyable, with some solid performances. Though I did feel as though you leads were too clean and pretty for the situation in which they were in. Overall though, well done.

This sums up my feelings pretty well. Great production value, but everyone looked too nice and clean. Loved the lights shutting off on her as she ran. That was a nice touch.
It seems like a piece of a bigger movie and for me it just didn't quite work as a standalone short. It's tough for me to put my finger on it.

Not saying I didn't enjoy it, I just felt like it was missing something.
Better sound and VFX could have really elevated this to another level.

Nice job. You definitely went all out.


Andy Olson
11-06-2013, 07:54 PM
Hey guys,

Thanks for watching and leaving comments!

Matthew B.: Thanks! We built the tent, costumes, and props, but the main fort and dome locations were existing already. We had toyed with the idea of building our own fort, but that would have been a huge undertaking in itself! We actually dirtied the actors up quite a bit but some of the makeup didn't come through on-camera. It's funny how you have to exaggerate stuff to get it to show up through the lense! We had conversations about this because some crew members had mentioned that on post-apoc tvshows people are too clean like on Revolution. Guess we could have got dirtied!

Michael: Thanks! The lights shutting off as she runs was always one of the key shots/scenes that I wanted and it turned out well. I'm glad you liked it! We did make the short with the intention of trying to garner interest in making the feature but strived to make it a standalone short as well. Please let me know if you figure out what made it not quite work standalone as we are still in post-production and working to improve the edit, vfx and sound mix. Thanks for watching!


11-08-2013, 09:04 PM
I like this one. Not really any complaints. The VO may have been wordy, but that's a nit. It really looked like you gave it your all and gave a shit. These stories always bug me though. Why haven't they recovered I mean an EMP doesn't just hang around. Stuff can be fixed and then you press on. Overall a great short!

11-09-2013, 12:14 PM
I dug it! This one had what not many others had, scope. You went all out on making it as bombastic and cinematic as possible. Plus I liked the concept, love supernatural/weird creature flicks
In my top 5, thanks for sharing! :)

Jack Daniel Stanley
11-11-2013, 10:46 PM
Great sound design and action in the opening.

Good art direction in the Tarp furni pad tent - nice push in while she’s getting geared up.
Nice set!

Something about the sound of the generator made me feel like I was hearing the scratch track of the camera for a second - like I was hearing the location generator and it took me out for a second. Maybe have it more muted in the wide shot and then really blast it to that level in the close shot when it gets turned off?

Where the hell did you get this set?!

Nice Dialogue:
Can’t help it that you’re a born runner, and I was born good looking. Someone’s been lying to you.
Gives a sense of the place and enough to like the characters a bit.

Another great set with the dome thing - what the hell?

Great pull up and away from the laying down embrace.

You clearly know what you’re doing and this was a fun well put together ride.

My only suggestions would maybe be some POV shots form the perspective of the things in the dark - this would make it a little clearer what’s happening at times like when she gets the gash on her leg. A low angle POV rushing up to her leg with a sound maybe. Like the Evil in Evil Dead kind of. I get that you were keeping exactly what was out there a mystery though and maybe this would be too much. The other suggestion would be maybe you could go a little farther with the color grading - the piece is very genre-y / video gamey (not in a bad way) and maybe (though not certain) it could benefit form a slightly more intense grade - like the matrix or something. Might pull all the art direction together even more - give it a real unified and heightened look.

Great job for sure.

And way to represent Austin BTW!

12-20-2013, 06:19 PM
I never feel there is quite as much as to say with films such as Black Out, (but I'll manage hehe.)

Clearly you have aimed to produce a very cinematic, commercial genre style film that showcases a range of production skills and tight storytelling. Traditionally, with dvxfest festivals this would have won straight out - as often the most commercial films would! The fact it didn't shouldn't discourage you, but the fact that you won the audience award on the contrary should encourage you.

I say that as a filmmaker more inclined towards work such as The Two Wolves (incidentally btw I didn't vote in time for any films in this festival.) but I want to point out just how well you did in case you felt any disappointment!

So to the film, you have produced the kind of short that provides entertainment, emotional investment and suspense. We care about this girl, and she has a friend/potential lover/ we are in a desperate world taking desperate measures. That's it - we're engaged, plus we have villains and monsters in the shape of shadow creatures that genuinely unnerve.

When the characters talk of 'Creepers' we remember the term, as we're on the team with the Runner now - following on her lonely trials and tribulations across the apocalyptic wasteland.

So... this is commercial style cinema, done at it's best imo, tight story, sentimentality and suspense. 95% of indie filmmakers will spend (ridiculous amounts of time in their filmmaking careers) producing shorts emulating commercial work without grasping some of the essential elements you are already implementing into your film.

Now all you have to do bro, is make a modest feature... and for it to sell in the market, it might not have to be thaaaaat much bigger!!!

Well done on an excellent film!

Andy Olson
01-06-2014, 07:16 PM
Thanks for watching guys! Means a lot that you enjoyed it.

Jace: Thanks! I enjoyed your projects too!

Jack Daniel Stanley: Thanks for watching and leaving comments. We actually shoot POV REAPERVISION shots but they didn't really come out well. Something we probably should have tested more in pre-production. I am still working on post-production even today so I'll take a crack at making the POV's stand out more as such. Definitely can toy around with the color-grading to give a more stylized look! Thanks again!

lawriejaffa: Thanks for watching! I'm glad you liked it and took the time to leave your thoughts!


Jack Daniel Stanley
01-08-2014, 07:43 PM
I skimmed the thread...

Sets - built? Found and dressed?
Being from Austin - inquiring minds want to know.


Andy Olson
01-09-2014, 06:37 AM
Hey Jack,

The Dome was found. This is a private owner that I used to work with.

The Fort was found but dressed with the lights and door. This is a paintball field fort outside of Austin.

The Tents and Safety Lights were built and dressed.