Historic Failures
HISTORIC FAILURES (that we should’ve learned from by now…)
June 30, 2014
Paul Giamatti as King John in 'Iron Clad'
August 21, 2014
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Yes, that’s right: Sharks IN Space.

Long story short – this is what I’ve been doing with my summer…

[vimeo 103252078 w=500 h=281]

“SPACE SHARKS!” – a short film by Erik Slader from Erik Slader on Vimeo.

First off I’d like to apologize for the unexpected hiatus on ‘Epik Fails of History’ (although to be fair I kind of have a good excuse) and secondly I want to thank each and every one of you for your continued support.

Quick Update: Although my presentation (HISTORIC FAILURES – that we should’ve learned from by now) didn’t make it into TEDx Jacksonville, I’m extremely grateful for the acknowledgement and the opportunity to apply. It was a great experience and I got a lot out of it. From what I understand there were far more extremely talented candidates this year than they expected, and seeing as I was just one of 90+ I wasn’t too surprised. I did the best I could and moved on to the next big thing…

Oh yeah, you’re probably wondering why I randomly made a movie… about sharks… in space!

Well, it all started as a joke.

My friend (Chris Carroll of Comic Zombie) and I were joking around about stupidly endearing b-horror movies, and I pointed out that the original pitch to Ridley Scott’s “Alien” (1979) was essentially “Jaws in Space.” And we were flabbergasted that no one had actually taken that concept literally to our knowledge. (Yeah I know there’s a video on older You Tube video entitled ‘Space Sharks’, but it’s actually the movie, ‘Raging Sharks’ which is about alien sharks on Earth, so it doesn’t count.)

Seeing as this was a huge oversight, I decided to do something about it.

"Space Sharks!" (in 3D) - fake theatrical movie poster by Erik Slader

I just so happened to be taken a video production class over the summer towards my Digital Media Bachelor’s Degree at FSCJ (in Jacksonville, Florida) and realized it was a perfect idea to do something ridiculously hilarious AND learn a thing or two about basic visual effects along the way. It might not seem like much, but this low-budget production was quite the undertaking.

"Space Sharks" story boards

I wrote out a short script, about three pages, consisting of everything from super cheesy dialogue and narration to camera directions and titles. Next I created a very simple (and hilarious) storyboard sequence.

I then conned a few friends of mine to be in this self-mocking crap fest, who I can’t thank enough for making it all come together: James Lester (Astronaut #1), Shawn Morse (Astronaut #2 aka – the one who loses his arm), Justin Ache (the Scientist / producer), and my wife, Danielle Slader (the Reporter), with a brief cameo and voice over by Chris Carroll, and a brilliant narration by the Pretend Radio podcast’s host: Devin Clark. 

We filmed it entirely with green screen (special thanks to Justin Ache for his equipment in that regard), using very basic makeshift props and costumes. Yes, those “space suits” were in fact made from duct tape and tin foil… three rolls worth! (half our budget)

After filming everything in one day, I began to cut the audio and video clips together. Most of the work (the last two months) were actually spent in post-production. Mixing the sound, assembling sound effects together, editing the footage, and then of course putting the visual effects together.

'Space Sharks' productionAlmost every shot had either matting, roto-scoping, layering sequences, photo-shopped backdrops, or a combination of all of the above. I took still shots of the ISS and the moon from NASA and manipulated them as ‘sets’. I used a few clips and music cues from a few popular sci-fi movies (and the Jaws theme), interspersed with keyed footage of sharks from Shark Week, layered over shots of space. The hardest sequence to create was actually the titles at the very end. I created them in a 3D modeling program called Maya. Because of the glow effect and the teeth chomping down on them, it took quite a bit to render it correctly. Most of the piece was assembled in Adobe After Effects.

Random Trivia: Sharks don’t roar. Also there’s no sound in space, because there’s no air for the sound waves to travel through. That said, there’s also not any sharks in outer space (as far as we know). However, in the motion picture ‘classic’, “Jaws: The Revenge” (1987), the shark roars at the end, which I find absurdly funny, so I decided to poke fun at it. I actually created my own sound effects for the Space Sharks by taking audio clips of a Grizzly, mixing that with the sound of a Lion’s roar, and then ran it through some filters in Audacity and added an echo, giving it an appropriate otherworldly feel.

In case you were wondering, I got an A.

If this thing goes viral, I’ll probably start a Kickstarter for a feature length one.

In the meantime, it’s back to work! 

In other news: I got not just one, but TWO grants for this Fall semester! I’m taking FIVE classes in addition to work and the occasional comic book review for SuperHero Beach.

I’ve got several new essays under construction: King John vs the Magna Carta, The Fall of Constantinople, and the Cuban Missile Crisis to name a few – coming in the following weeks. Stay Tuned!

Back to work - me raising a mug (that says 'Sarcasm - just another service we offer'), in front of my laptop, next to a stack of history text books...

These historical figures aren’t going to make fun of themselves!

                                                         ERIK SLADER

Hope you enjoyed this edition of “Epik Fails!”, if you have any comments, questions, concerns, or suggestions let me know in the comments below! Also, be sure to ’Like’ EPiK FAILs on Facebook, or Follow on Twitter, and SHARE IT with your friends!

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Erik Slader
Erik Slader
Erik Slader is the creator of “Epik Fails of History” a blog (and podcast) about the most epic fails… of history. With Ben Thompson, Erik is the co-author of the Epic Fails book series. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Media, once managed a comic book shop, has a weakness for fancy coffee and currently lives in Green Cove Springs, Florida with too many cats.

1 Comment

  1. A. van Nerel says:

    That was hilarious! It would be the perfect sequel to Sharknado…(btw, the reviews in the end: ‘Not bad’ by Michael Bay was one of the best jokes ever…It’s probably what he could have said!

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