Survivors Of A Nuclear War Find A Secret Bunker—But There's A Catch

Phoenix 9 is an impressive post-apocalyptic short film set after a nuclear war has devastated the world. A ragtag group of survivors are seeking sanctuary, and they've become a family in the process. But things get complicated when they come across a secret military installation that may be too good to be true.

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Phoenix 9 was edited and directed by Amir Reichart and written and produced by Peer Gopfrich. This is just a proof-of-concept piece; Gopfrich has a feature-length script. Hopefully, that version reveals how the survivors come to their ultimate decision.

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DISCUSSION

Hi everyone, Peer Gopfrich here - the writer / producer of Phoenix 9.

First off - great discussions going on in here. You guys are tack sharp and have honed in on a lot of the weak spots in the short, as well as making some quality creative suggestions. And all without a single troll in sight ;o)

Since you all seem genuinely engaged, I feel it might be appropriate to provide some insight into the behind-the-scenes of this project. It's something I always enjoy reading about from other movies, so perhaps some of you will, too.

So here goes…

While I firmly believe that financial constraints can lead to more effective creative choices, there's also a point where less money just begins to hurt the final product. And in Phoenix 9's case, we were dangerously close to that line every single step of the way. Because we financed this project completely out of our own pocket (to the tune of just over $30,000), there were several creative content / quality control battles we could not pursue as it would have meant losing the larger war of getting this thing across the finish line.

Our difficulties were compounded by the fact that the director and I had no track record prior to filming Phoenix 9. So while we believed in the concept and had a clear vision of how to put it on screen, a lot of people we approached just saw the bad version in their heads. And that's not to their dis-credit. Many people in Hollywood are great at self-promotion but not so good at delivering a film that meets the lofty expectations they've created. So the rational choice for everyone involved was to not trust us to deliver anything even remotely presentable.

That meant we had to make dozens of phone calls for almost every single cast and crew position. And even the ones we convinced to come on board were prone to ditch us if a better-paying gig materialized. Basically, while a short film was our top priority, it was pretty much everybody else's lowest. Again, a rational choice, but one that didn't make our lives any easier.

In the two weeks prior to production, we lost our 1st AC, our production designer, our line producer, and two cast members, which meant a lot of our energy was diverted from the creative part to just keeping the project alive. In a way it was like Maslow's hierarchy of needs - survival trumped everything else. Polishing dialogue in rehearsals took a backseat to finding actors to actually play those parts.

Funny anecdote: Carl Williams, who plays Henry in our short is, in true Hollywood fashion, a waiter in real life. And not the kind that "really" is an actor. No. Just a waiter. We had just lost the guy who was supposed to play the Henry part a few days before the shoot and were sitting all doom-and-gloom at a burger joint, thinking "man… where do we find a big, jovial guy to cast as the group's cook?" And just then, this low, infectiously jovial voice comes from above us going: "How ya'll doin' tonight, gentlemen?" And the director and I both looked at each other, grinned, and I said "Hey… would you like to be in a film?" And much to his credit, Carl was completely game and even took time off from his job to help us out.

And he wasn't the only positive surprise. While there were many disappointments and let-downs, there were also an incredible number of very talented and dedicated people who believed in us and our vision, and broke their backs for almost next-to-nothing.

Our DP Tobias Deml was a life-saver with his relentless energy and optimism - not to mention his contacts that allowed us eventually assemble a kick-ass crew.

The costume designer, Ami Goodheart, did a stunning job on the costumes. (Side note: She's originally a fashion designer and did costumes for the likes of Lady Gaga and other pop stars. She was trying to transition into costume design for films and found us on a complete lark while surfing Craigslist.)

Our production designer, Reed Johns, worked miracles with the budget we gave him, though I'm sure about half of it must have been spent on coffee to stay awake during his many all-nighters.

Our VFX team was about as bare-bones as it gets and did incredible work - punching way above their weight class. Region Five in Germany really came through with flying colors, and stuck with us even when things looked bleak at times. As did all the other artist around the world.

And that's just the tip of an iceberg. It's still amazing to look back at how many people came together and dedicated to turn our initial idea into reality,

In the end, our goal was to create something that would both entertain an audience and give us a shot at setting up a feature version that explores the concept in more detail. And overall I think we achieved that goal, battle scars be damned.

So thanks everyone for watching Phoenix 9 and taking the time to post your thoughts here. It's great to see that our film has stimulated some lively discussions, both positive and negative. Because in the end, the worst fate for a film is indifference, and you guys have shown anything but… ;o)