And it should go without saying that if you can help spread the word of this remarkable project - which I can't help but feel deserves a bigger audience than it has reached thus far (especially this latest one) - please do so. I'd really appreciate it.
Well, as ever... thank you to everyone who supported me in this - whether it was with the above, you were part of the cast and crew, with backing on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, or by just generally saying nice things. It has taken over a year to finish this series, and if it wasn't for all of you I don't think I'd have stayed the distance. Seriously cannot stress enough that this is a joint effort by all of us - and I feel immensely privileged. You've given me a gift that has really made a difference to my life.
Suffice to say, I want to do more. I've got some thoughts about what form it might take. But I'm going to take a few months to let them percolate as I try to recover. I really hope lots of you are up for being a part of something new, probably in early spring next year...
For now - here's a behind-the-scenes look at The Trojan Arse Protocol.
SPOILER WARNING: Do not read on unless you have watched The Trojan Arse Protocol!
The big, opening, narration - which goes on slightly too long, but never mind - is a nod to the opening of Escape From New York. I was very fortunate to find someone with a voice that had the same sort of timbre. I slapped a filter on her voice, which gave it a similar, slightly robotic, chilly, effect, of the sort that John Carpenter used.
Even the music - once again provided by Chris Jerden-Cooke, who did a brilliant job on the entire finale, to my exacting specifications - is a homage to Carpenter. Chris has worked really, really hard across the series - but he really knocked it out of the park here I think.
And look - here's a shot of Xenoxxx HQ pre-disaster, provided by our brilliant VFX artist AJ Jeffries.
Steve, like the rest of us, was wrecked by the end of the two days. Nobody worked harder than him and Sanya, my other half. They're listed as "2nd Unit Director" and "Producer" respectively, but those titles barely cover the work they put in - everything from dressing sets, rounding up cast, to going and getting pizzas for everyone.
This was shot on the morning of Day 2. Originally it was meant to be a crane shot - our director of photography, Christopher Hood, is a "jib specialist" - but we'd lost so much time on Day 1 that I had to forego the setting up of the crane, as it would've taken up an hour or so just to rig it. So we improvised.
The weapons are a mixture of Nerf and water guns, which I customised, the body armour is biker gear, the helmets are DIY facemasks, and the backpack that Orlokkk is wearing is an old WW2 portable radio kit.
The latter, however, were a pain in the arse to paint/distress. They used up a ton of paint. We were glad to have them, though, as they covered up parts of the location which would've broken the illusion.
You can also see the body of Funtron 8 in this shot (a water butt - about four times the price of a barrel).
Consequently, this dialogue was thrown together in about 5 minutes on the fly in a bid to bridge the scenes (and character) we no longer had - and hats off to Jesse "Faktori" Ross for learning it and doing a brilliant job in dire circumstances.
It means that all the exposition comes across as a big dump of it, rather than in a more finessed fashion. But hey - what are ya gonna do?! Too late now.
Pretty much the whole of the first morning on Day 1 was taken up with this one scene. Obviously, it's a very heavily dressed set too (in the bunker's old hospital facility no less); this was more or less a bare room before we came in.
Also: you can see the head of BW from Biffovision in a jar in the back of one of the shots. He now resides with the sponsor of the series...
Also, there's a really cool skull - with a barcode on its forehead - that you only see in profile in a brief shot. I wish we could've featured that somehow better. Other props in this set include a bunch of Cold War-era Soviet medical gear, oscillators, and other medical and scientific equipment I bought on eBay.
It frustrates me that this scene is so expositional right on the heels of the tunnel scene - but it was unavoidable in the circumstances. Molotov exists as a character to ask the questions the audience might have, but I'm pleased I also managed to give him a character arc. Which is no mean feat in a 15 minute-long film.
For this damaged jar I just laid it over the hob on my kitchen cooker, and waited until it was melted enough to punch through. I would've done that with the others if I'd thought about it sooner, rather than trying to hammer a breadknife through them.
Also, hats off to our many volunteers who helped dress this set - especially Oliver and Joe - which had a ton of detail (Xenoxxx banners hanging from the ceiling!) that you barely see on screen.
Also: Jesse, who plays Faktori, looks like a proper action hero here. Like Andy Wear, who played Molotov, he got a military haircut especially for the role and even went to the gym to beef himself up.
The reveal of the bum, with it flinging its arms wide, was a tribute to a similar shot in the original Alien. It wasn't easy to get the shot; Mark couldn't see a thing in the mask, so couldn't see where he was facing.
Also, lovely subtle VFX with the gunshots and bullet impacts, courtesy of AJ.
This was everyone's favourite set, due to the amount of detail in it. I wanted it to feel like a real place that people had worked and lived in - though much of that might be lost on screen. There was a game of solitaire set up on one side of the desk, coffee mugs - and lots of Polaroids of a strange, green-faced, woman, that I bought on eBay.
Also: one of several appearances from Roaming Thomas... Two Thomases in fact... placed on an electroluminescent sheet. These weren't cheap, but we use quite a lot of them throughout the film as computer screens, or buttons, in the background of shot. They really help to sell the illusion of power.
It was a bit of a pain to shoot on this set, as it was right next door to the tunnel's generator, and the noise was bleeding through. Chris Bullock, our sound recordist, did a fantastic job minimising the racket.
You might've noticed the colour red featuring quiet heavily in The Trojan Arse Protocol. Aside from the fact it helps certain key things "pop" on screen - such as the characters - it's also a subtle nod to our backers (along with the Xenoxxx logo) that this is where your money went!
Also: look at the Popping Martian toy! I had one years ago, and thought it'd be a nice little touch to throw into the scene. Apparently, they feature in the background on Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Which I have not watched.
Essentially, this is the point at which you realise that The Trojan Arse Protocol is just one joke - which is the juxtaposition of puerile fart humour with something that feels quite high-end and serious. Nothing is played for laughs - so when the farts come, hopefully they're funny.
The dialogue in the script is deliberately a bit po-faced and action-movie-cliched; "I'm the real monster - not those bum-faced things" is probably my favourite example.
In total, we had 9 bum masks and one bum puppet. Because we couldn't see who was who under their masks, we had to give the extras nicknames; "Spotty bum", "Veiny bum", "Brown bum" etc.
There was a whole additional section to this scene originally, with Faktori fighting off a swarm of "Bumcrawlers" - but, again, lost due to time.
Also, the two Bum Monsters that go down were only meant to be one; however, extra R. Fred Williams tripped over John Veness, thus giving us two casualties for the price of one! Sorry about the bruises, John.
Again, this was another scene which had a lot more action in it originally. You don't see it in the scene, but there was a whole other room just off to the side of it which had caved in. Sadly, there was no filming in there for health and safety reasons.
The tunnels were astonishingly inhospitable - from the lack of power points (we had, fortunately, invested a load of money in extension cables) to the humidity; by the end of day 2, the camera crew had to spend a couple of hours drying out their gear.
Violet's eye make-up was a tribute to the character of Pris from Blade Runner. Given that she only had a couple of lines, Violet's dedication to the part was commendable.
I also owe her for suggesting Andy for the role of Molotov - which was originally written for Violet. When Andy took over, I wrote the Goujon John Cultist into the script, which informed the entire Church of Goujon John plot.
I would work with him again in a shot.
Also... what's that he's putting inside his body armour? Looks like a VHS tape. Hmm... maybe you can extrapolate from that.
Can I just point out the steam erupting there? I'm very proud of that. That was a disco light/smoke machine thing that I bought.
In my head, Lord Brannigan-7 is bum-obsessed, and the giant bum is just part of the vortex activation technology - rather than, say, an alien bum coming from another dimension.
By this point, I was seriously fit to drop, and Sid - who owns the tunnels - was breathing down our necks because he wanted to lock up and go to bed, so I just let Christopher Hood get on with it while I started packing up our gear. Even after the shoot wrapped we were there for another couple of hours finishing up. And then had a two-hour drive home.
Again, there was scarcely a cross word during the whole shoot, despite the early starts and late finishes, and astonishing workload. Everybody seemed to be loving every minute of it, and I would work with almost all of them again on anything I did. An amazing bunch of people; thank you, those who backed Found Footage, for bringing us all together.
And that's it. It's over, barring putting together the DVD, fulfilling the backer rewards, and collapsing with exhaustion. I hope you've liked the series... and if you didn't, then I hope you liked the finale. If you didn't like either, then that's okay too, but I hope you've at least appreciated the amount of work put into the show by a lot of very talented, dedicated, hardworking folk.
Also, huge thanks to Nikki Heald, Peter Kwan, David Walford and Glyn Heaviside for running and contributing to the Found Footage ARG that has been bubbling alongside the series. David has written a making-of for the Xenoxxx ZX Spectrum game he wrote. You can read it here, and find Nikki's Goujon John Page here, and Peter's Xenoxxx site here.
You can also contribute to the Xenoxxx wiki, or the Brannigan's Vortex group here.
Thank you all for watching and being part of this.