Bryan is an Atlanta based writer and director. He strives to create films of driving focus and deep humanity. He began filmmaking when he was just twelve years old when, after winning a school science fair, he purchased his first video camera with the prize money. He studied Film and Television at the Savannah College of Art and Design where he graduated with a BFA in Fall, 2014.
In third grade, Vivi was one of three kids on the 'production team' whose job was to run around filming random clips of the school. In high school, she was a last-minute addition to the school play and got hit with the acting bug. Fifteen years later you can find her in films & TV shows such as Baby Driver, The Walking Dead, Homeland, & Sleepy Hollow.
Travis makes movies, has red hair, and is Canadian.
Matthew caught the filmmaking bug after seeing "Jurassic Park" at the age of 7. By 13, he bought his first camera learning the storytelling process with visual effects always being a major part of his focus. He currently serves as a senior compositor at the Visual FX house Stargate Studios. He sees filmmaking as just a way to put his imagination into a medium that can be shared, and he has a lot to share.
Bryan answers some common questions about the film:
Can you give us a general overview of the project?
The Emissary is a science fiction short film set within the confines of a small ship as it voyages to a distant, icy gas giant like Neptune, only much more distant. We filmed in Atlanta, Georgia in September 2017.
Did you really film this in your parent's basement?
Yes! I realize I might be living up to a millennial stereotype or two, but we did film this in my parent's basement. My approach to filmmaking has been to try and slow everything down so that the crew can be intentional in the work they do rather than having to rush about and make frantic decisions at the last minute. With our limited budget I knew we would need ample time to troubleshoot and work through the process, and that is exactly what was afforded to us by filming at mom and pop's.
How did you construct the set?
I spent most of 2017 pretending I was a production designer and making all sorts of rookie mistakes! I first learned Sketchup and modeled the set to the exact dimensions afforded to us by the space, then learned some basic carpentry from a friend and spent another three months building the ship. Over two dozen people came by and helped out at various stages to get us to our shooting date.
How did you pull off the special effects?
We combined modern compositing with old fashioned techniques like rear projection, miniatures, time-lapse, and macro photography to achieve our special effects.
There have been a good number of space-set films recently, how do you find a unique approach to it?
Films like 2001, Interstellar, and The Martian do a great job showing a speculative future of what space travel could be like and some of the challenges within that. Those were films I certainly didn't want to compete with! I wanted to look further at the human cost of space travel – the societal cost. What does it look like to have human civilization spread across hundreds of light years? How would we relate to each other? With such questions, the technology and the visceral danger of space takes a back seat. That's why you won't see Liv talking with her ship computer AI. As soon as you put that into the story it becomes about that. The Emissary is less science fiction and more of a simple human drama that happens to be set in space.
Do you have plans for an Emissary feature film?
Yes, but not exactly! What I have found with The Emissary is that as soon as you expand the story into a feature, it becomes massive both in scope and expense because such a story would necessitate that you leave the confines of Liv's ship and see the worlds that surround her. Thus, the feature screenplay is more of a spiritual successor to The Emissary, not a literal expansion of it. Like The Emissary, The Basilica is set entirely on a space ship visiting a distant gas giant, but concerns three characters not just one, which I think provides some more meaty character possibilities for a feature film. My hope for The Emissary was that I could prove such a film would be possible in a manner far cheaper than such sci-fi fare usually costs while maintaining a high standard of quality.
Written and Directed by Bryan Tan
Executive Producers: Berk Balkan, and Isaac Deitz
Producers: Bryan Tan, Jesse Scimeca
Director of Photography: Travis Sawyer
Earth Sequence Cinematography by: Samuel Laubscher
Production Design by Bryan Tan
Visual Effects Coordinator: Matthew Finley
Art Director: Holly Patterson
Post Sound: Brittany Ellis, Kyle Lammerding
Music: James Rogers
Hair and Makeup: Haven Sierra
Sound: Matthew Dunaway
Gaffer: Steve DeMarinis
EARTH SEQUENCE CREW:
1st AD: Trey Marksberry
1st AC: Katie Hinshaw
2nd AC: Mackenzie Austin
Key Grip: David Tabor
Craft Services: Karen Tan
PA: Emily Dunlop
ADDITIONAL SET CONSTRUCTION
BrandRED Studios, Josh Sims, Phil Stevens,
James Legg, Justin Suttles