Bruce Branit’s work can be seen on TV shows “Breaking Bad,” “Revolution,” “Fringe” and “Lost”
From landing a plane on the 405 to building entire worlds. Now it’s time to build a real Blockbuster.
Branit has already hit it big in the viral, short film market, twice. In 2000, Branit and Jeremy Hunt changed the short film game with “405”
This comedic/action film sailed past 10 million views through email sharing and downloads via web sites long before YouTube existed. Yahoo featured “405” as one of the 100 most important moments in the history of the internet. In 2008 he created “World Builder” to showcase a more emotional, character-driven story line. It too, went global and garnered millions of views a week at its most viral. Both films dig deeply from Branit’s repertoire as a five-time Emmy nominated visual effects artist. But what made both films work and find their audience was that both have strong story and character.
Now, Branit is at it once more with an upcoming sci-fi/adventure project called “State of the Union.” Only this time the master of the short film form wants to make a true, Hollywood feature film. “Why not a viral feature film?” joked Branit.
After the success of “405,” Branit and Hunt developed two features films through traditional Hollywood studio channels. Branit has since written two more feature scripts, one being a feature narrative based on his short film “World Builder.” “We were close [to a deal] on that project,” said Branit. “But the perception was that the budget was too big, or the the target audience was too small for a sci-fi love story [like World Builder]. Probably right on both accounts.”
Taking all those lessons to heart, the result is a film is called “State of the Union.” It is a big, loud, fun, Sci-Fi, action adventure about five young millennials who normally could not survive without their phones, but somehow survive an alien onslaught. To generate buzz and let people understand the tone and scale of the movie, a 5 minute teaser was produced last summer. “It sort of represents the first 5 minutes of the larger movie. We wanted to shoot a no-budget proof of concept and hope that audiences want to know what happens next.” They do.
With “State of the Union” Branit has taken the alien invasion genre and turned it on its head. “We live in a very uncertain time, and this film draws from a feeling that a lot of young people have. They feel they are not in control of their future and are justifiably cynical about what larger forces might try to control them and what’s coming.” Some have called the “State of the Union” script a “Cabin in the Woods” of the sci-fi genre.
But one of the obstacles to producing a big budget looking blockbuster at discount prices is visual effects. How do you do it within such a small budget? That is Branit’s ace in the hole. While not birthing a production company, Branit runs Branit FX, based out of Kansas City. Surprisingly this “out of Hollywood’s zip code” company is responsible for some of the highest quality VFX work seen on television in shows such as Revolution, Person of Interest and the upcoming Almost Human. In fact, Branit FX garnered an Emmy and VES nomination for their work on Breaking Bad – specifically, the shocking, water cooler moment wherein Gus Fring met his grizzly end.
The jump from visual effects artist to filmmaker is becoming a common transition. “Neill Blomkamp (District-9, Elysium) and Joseph Kosinski (Tron, Oblivion) are huge inspirations to me.” added Branit. “They too, were visual effects guys. But they wanted to use effects to help tell a story and make a great movie. Not make a movie simply to showcase their visual effects skills.”
“When we made 405, it caused this revelation that anyone could now do anything with computers in their garage.” Branit says. “While we were never literally in a garage, we did use off-the-shelf software and computers. That has not changed. But what we can do with today’s faster computers has improved 100 fold.” Add to that affordable RED EPIC or DSLR type cameras and desktop editorial and sound, and it seems we are very close to the democratization of Hollywood that “405” promised. It is only natural that vanguard filmmakers like Branit are the ones still pushing to make those films.
Bruce is a five time Emmy Award Nominee for Visual Effects for shows like Star Trek: DS9 and Breaking Bad. As a director, his award winning shorts such as “405” and “World Builder” have defined and then raised the bar for online viral media. His VFX credits include feature films such as Serenity, Sin City, and King Kong and television series work on Fringe, Lost, Person of Interest and Pushing Daisies.
After years in Los Angeles, Branit moved his base back to his hometown of Kansas City. There, he owns and operates Branit FX which provides visual effects, CGI and compositing for film, commercials and television shows such as The Flash, Breaking Bad, and Almost Human. Branit has recently opened Lucamax Pictures that develops and produces creative commercial, branded viral and genre entertainment.
Kansas City, MO 64108
For more information: