They were the masterminds behind some stunning visuals in Hollywood movies like The Day After Tomorrow, Iron Man 2, 2012, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, 300, and even some portions of Avatar. Chicago-based VFX experts Colin and Greg Strause, also known as Brothers Strause, are now ready to test new waters with their directorial venture Skyline that releases worldwide today. A simultaneous India release in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu has also been slated by Reliance Big Pictures. The movie, starring Donald Faison and Eric Balfour, is, what the Brothers Strause claim, “a visual epic alien-abduction movie”.
The story revolves around a group of friends who discover extraterrestrial forces that threaten to swallow the entire human race. Ask the directors how they have managed to avoid the clichés of an apocalypse movie in Skyline and Greg Strause says, “Skyline has gone from concept to release date in less than a year. We were committed to having a character-driven movie. Knowing that the tropes of many sci-fi screenplays include enormous visuals and disposable characters, we vowed to avoid the obvious traps.”
Again, from a visual effects point of view, the movie promises a fresh experience. “One of the fun things was creating moments of pure terror, as all of a sudden, the cast finds themselves right in the middle of these huge set pieces. While many sci-fi thrillers are set and shot at night to compensate for any issues with the inevitable CGI, it was important to us to showcase the terror during the day. Having people watch as dozens of motherships suck up millions of people off the face of the earth… that’s something you have to see during the day. At night, that wouldn’t look like much,” explains Colin.
The brothers, who began their careers as teenagers and created the firm, Hydraulx, as a full-service VFX house, are not short on confidence.
Not surprising, given their impressive baggage of work includes blockbusters like Titanic, Fast & Furious, Jumper and music videos of Britney Spears, U2 and Usher.
“After several years for directing shorter-form projects, we were hired to helm Aliens Vs Predator — Requiem,” Colin recalls, and Greg adds that they had great spaces, awesome cameras and wondered what they could do to take advantage of that. However, the brothers continue to think that neither medium is easier, and would always take on challenges.
Inspiration: Paranormal activity
The brothers admit that they were inspired by Paranormal Activity. Greg says, “One of the coolest things about what the filmmakers of Paranormal Activity did was that they just did it themselves.” Colin knew they could do that 100 times bigger and better. “Why couldn’t we? We have an effects studio, we’ve worked on almost 70 movies and we own our own equipment.”