Updated: Nov 18, 2020
Written by director Abdullah Abu-Mahfouz
How to Watch
You can watch the film at this link: http://www.reelnationmedia.com/deaded
Listen to the incredible soundtrack by S.D. Gabor here: https://www.reelnationmedia.com/music
The Official Trailer
Dead ED is a short film that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world when societies are trying to clean the nuclear winter and salvage any technology from their forefathers. The story follows a nuclear waster manager (acted by Adam Gibbins) and his only friend, a robot named ED (voiced by Zachary Peek) on their mission to lean the wastelands. However, their trail is picked up by a group of looters, lead by a notorious warlord (acted by Anthony Giovanni Elias), and the duo’s chances of survival fall into each other’s’ hands.
What do you do when you find out your mission is hopeless? What happens when you forsake your friends? The film asks you and the characters these questions.
The Story Behind the Story
If you’ve been following our activity, then you know Dead ED is our oldest project to date. If you’re new, then here is a short breakdown of how all this went down.
In 2013, my fellow classmates at Full Sail University and I set out to create an ambitious project that we could have a blast with and knock the socks off our audience. We knew we wanted to create an adventure story about friendship, and we were also heavily inspired by Oblivion (2013), a science fiction film that had just been released. We remixed the two into a short film script, and Dead ED was the result.
Fun fact: we chose the title when Daniel, co-founder of Reel Nation Media, saw a “DEAD END” sign missing the letter “N.”
After the script was as polished as much as my 18-year-old, naive, self could polish, we started shooting in the spring of that year. We launched a Kickstarter campaign which made the whole endeavor possible. However, shooting was soon halted because of the workload required for school. We even made two more films (Lola Rabbit & Little Big Hero) before we returned to our production schedule. Thus, Dead ED was shot in two separate phases: before we knew anything about filmmaking and after we knew a tiny bit more about filmmaking. In June 2014, we completed production at the end of our education at Full Sail University.
This created another problem… all of our classmates and collaborators soon had full-time jobs while also be scattered across the country. Naturally, adult life after school took priority. It wasn’t until 2016 that we returned to figure out how we would complete the film without a post-production team. Our biggest problem that would take more years to solve was this:
During our time of shooting while knowing very little to nothing about filmmaking, we shot a lot of visual effects the wrong way. For example, our green screen setup was horrible. When professionals saw our raw footage, they ran for the hills. Fixing this problem would cost either a lot of time or a fortune. Being startup artists, money was something we didn’t have.
Luckily, Mitchell Sanchez, our VFX supervisor, was there to guide me in learning how to do the visual effects myself. The path ahead was like looking at the peak of Everest from its base. There was a total of 114 shots to do heavy repairs and visual effects on. The most time-consuming effect of the bunch was rotoscoping, where I hand cut the horrendous green screen out of the composition… frame by frame. 24 frames a second.
Below is a 10x speed timelapse of rotoscoping.
Long story short, the visual effects took me another 4 years to complete. I was only able to dedicate one or two hours a week because it was a student project. And boy… was I a humbled student. I learned many lessons from this adventure. Dead ED is my bittersweet achievement of both my amateur and early filmmaking career.
The next time you watch a movie with awesome visual effects, consider the countless hours, taken from nerds like me, to pull it off.
Now that Dead ED is complete, we can dedicate our time and resources to fresh, original films. We are currently developing our first web series and our second feature-length documentary. To keep up to date with us and get awesome insights, consider becoming a member so that we may reach you!
In the meantime… keep it Reel :)