Neill Blomkamp exploded onto the filmmaking scene with District 9 after Weta’s deal with Microsoft for him to direct a Halo film fell apart. District 9 was based on a short film called Alive in Joburg that became a viral sensation, and caught the eye of Peter Jackson.
His next two films — Elysium and Chappie — haven’t fared as well as his first movie. They’re not bad movies, they’re just not as good. Blomkamp was set to direct Alien 5, but in an interview with The Verge, he revealed that the project is dead. As suspected, it seems that Ridley Scott was the deciding factor in that.
In the meantime, Blomkamp has decided to go back to his roots of creating short films, and has started Oats Studios. The idea is pretty simple, explaining to The Verge:
“At the end of making Chappie, I wanted to try to figure out a different method for making films and expressing myself. I felt that if I could sell smaller pieces directly to the audience, the sale of those small experimental pieces would keep this machine alive so that it became an ecosystem that was self-sufficient. And I could, at any point, pick one of the pieces that I made that felt like it resonated with the audience, and turn it into a feature film.
“In the process of creating all of these ideas, a) it would be really creative, and b) it would allow me to interact with the audience directly, in a way that Hollywood doesn’t really do.”
Interestingly, Blomkamp is releasing the films via Valve’s Steam service which has been used specifically for video games. Not only does he intend to release the films through the service, but the raw footage, music, and computer graphics, as well, to allow audiences to remix the work.
What he won’t be doing with Oats Studios is working in the worlds he’s already established in District 9, Elysium, and Chappie. When asked about it, he revealed that the legal work involved — along with the entire point of the studio — wouldn’t work. Here’s what he told the outlet:
“In order to do that you would have to interact with the studios that own those films. The whole point here is to just be autonomous and just do whatever we want.”
“With District 9, I plan on making another film in that world. To go back and work with WETA, and make the film would be cool, but anything that preexists like that may not be the best fit for whatever we’re trying here.”
Fans have been dying to know what happens next in that film series. It has always felt like the film was designed for a second movie.
Oats Studios sounds like a very interesting gamble. Will audiences want to pay for high quality films that are sold via a gaming network? Its hard to say, but hopefully this will finally open the door for that alternative form of studio the internet has been promising for years now.