TheSweetshop is celebrating the nomination of writer director DylanPharazyn’s debut short, VOSTOK STATION for a ‘New Frontier’ award atthis year’s Sundance.
Set in the arctic wilderness, theeight-minute film follows the single survivor of a catastrophicdisaster experiencing a mystifying moment of transitory beauty. Written and directed by New Zealander Dylan Pharazyn, it wasco-produced by The Sweet Shop and Richard Collins. Funding came fromthe Screen Innovation Production Fund, a partnership between NZ FilmCommission and Creative NZ, with post-production handled by the NZ FilmCommission.
Filmed on Mount Ruapehu, situated in the North Island of New Zealand,the film offers an almost paranormal, apocalyptic vision of beauty, inthe shape of a kaleidoscopic apparition featuring shards of brokenicicles. A wounded man trapped in an arctic wilderness finds renewedhope of survival when he spots a convoy of freight vessels at shore.When his survival hopes take another hit the line between reality andimagination become blurred as the sky descends into a flurry ofpoignant crystal beauty. Key influences for the director in makingVostok Station include Akira Kirosawa, Gus Van Sant, Stanley Kubrick,Akira and 2000AD.
Says Pharazyn: “I guess the plan was to try and break the mould a bitwith the traditional short film format. I liked the idea of making anart film that utilised a heavy post component. A combination not thatcommon in short films.
He is passionate and ‘indebted’ in speaking of the creative team: “Working with Digital Post was amazing. They could see that we weretrying to make something really unique and totally got behind it. Stuart Bedford lead the visual effects and was excellent, absolutelytireless. The team worked day and night for months and I was stunnedat just how much support they gave us just to get behind something theybelieved would be a good piece of work.”
Though the assemble edit was 11 minuntes longer than planned, with somegratuitous long shots, Pharazyn was ultimately happy with the finalcut. “I really liked the indulgence of that longer cut, but it worksbetter as a short film the way it ended up.”
With a shoestring budget of 10,000 (NZ), the aim was to film with 2k,leaving the rest for full noise and faultless visuals. Due to thisfinancial restraint, a locked-off camera was used wherever possible,making visual effects infinitely more achievable. Says Pharazyn, “Itmeant that I could get anyone who was great at Photoshop, without themneeding a Flame or Shake and they could composite our backgrounds. Italso meant that for the destroyed container ship elements I could shootstills at ports around New Zealand and there were our sets, limitingCGI right down to a doable couple of boats.”
Composer and sound designer Max Scott was responsible for all theaudio, a powerfully ambient score. “We’ve known each other since wewere kids and always work on each others stuff. It’s always a dreamworking with him, we’re totally on the same page.”
It’s shaping up to be a busy year for Pharazyn, with two new shorts anda feature script in progress, as well as commercials and music videoson the boil.