The Future Of Neil Blomkamp's Oats Studios
Article by Aaron Haughton
If you've been following along with our site, you know that we're extremely interested in District 9 filmmaker Neil Blomkamp's experimental film studio, Oats Studios, and have been following it since its inception. Well, last Thursday, April 12th, marked another update for the Studio. The South African filmmaker released information regarding their first potential feature, the future of his potential Alien sequel, and the next phase of Oats, which he wants to put entirely in the hands of fans.
The studio and its business model is "essentially an experiment...to build a film studio that acts a little bit more like a game studio," Blomkamp told JoBlo.com. "What I want to do is I want to build some kind of relationship with the audience; I want anyone online who likes our stuff to be able to directly fund us to make more stuff. And, I think initially the way to do it is a mixture of our own internal money mixed with supplementing it from fans, which is now what I want to try to do."
However, Blomkamp was crystal clear that he wants all funds raised going into the Oats projects and is not interested in established crowdfunding models, like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, where a chunk of the funds raised go toward donator perks. "What I find really kind of bizarre with those setups is how much of the resources you raise from the fans goes back to these perks and pledges and stuff where, before you know it, fifty percent of your budget is gone, because at different tiers you're giving them different things. It makes no sense to me. It's like, if you like the film and you want more of that film or you like Oats and you want more Oats, fund us. Help us get it started. But, it's like, we're not going to give away fifty percent of the budget so you can get a hat or something. It doesn't make sense. The dollars should go directly to the screen."
As far as a first feature is concerned, Blomkamp has chosen to go expound upon Firebase, a sci-fi soldier/war short in the form of an even more twisted and deranged Vietnam that was included in their Volume One package. Out of all the shorts that Volume One had to offer, Firebase was the least intriguing — to us, anyways — but like all Oats shorts, there is limitless potential.
"I think Firebase is probably the most esoteric and unique of the three bigger ones, which definitely draws me to it." Blomkamp went on to say. "The whole idea for Firebase is essentially gnosticism. It's a gnostic film with a science-fiction/Vietnam setting that talks about simulation hypothesis and gnosticism and archons and that can go, I think, for quite a lot of time. I think there's a lot to be mined in that. Assuming that we got enough to do an entire feature, there is a feature that is written now that would be the story that I would want to tell at this moment, which is pretty cool."
Blomkamp hopes to raise money for the esoteric project by crowdsourcing from fans, who would also get access to some downloadable content in addition to the film. Blomkamp described the model as such: "Let's assume that there's X number of people online that liked the idea of [Oats] Volume one; so, all of the weird shit, altogether. So, the best outcome from this would be that years down the line you have that number of people funding Oat's ability to make volume two and volume three and volume four and volume five and every time it's something different. That's the best case scenario. That just lets unbridled creativity run rampant. So, that's what I'm actually aiming for."
As far as Blomkamp's Alien 3 is concerned, it looks like the fire has finally blown out of him. "It's just an unfortunate thing. I speak to Sigourney [Weaver] about it sometimes. At this point it's kinda like the fire that was burning within me to make that is gone. Stepping outside of even the legal kind of studio-based politics I just feel like its time has come and gone. So, yeah...I think no. And I say that really reluctantly, because I cannot state how much of a fan of Sigourney I am and how much of a fan I am of Alien and Aliens and the idea of doing a sequel to James Cameron's film is amazing on all levels. But, there's a point at which when you're years into it you have to move on. So, I think that has happened to me."
However, that doesn't put the kabbash on Blomkamp's working with Weaver, who appears in the studio's first short, Rakka. "I want to do a bigger Rakka piece with Sigourney [Weaver]. Hopefully that can happen at some point when she's done filming on Avatar. So, that would be very cool."
The filmmaker doesn't plan to stick solely with Oats, either, and still plans on making films within the Hollywood system as well, which gives us some mixed feelings. "Half of me is going down the road of trying to figure out what the best feature film is that I want to do in Hollywood; like the coolest film/experience that I want to make inside of the system. Because I obviously still love traditional films in Hollywood. So, while that's happening I have this extreme goal that has sort of been seeded in my head since 2015, which is to get to work this online studio that has a one-on-one relationship with fans. So, that means that I'm kind of like simultaneously working on potential bigger films and then I'm spending the rest of my time sort of strategizing and thinking about how to get Oats to boot up in a way that would be sustainable long term."
You can check out Blomkamp plead his case for Firebase funding in the video below:
What do you think? Will you rally behind Oats Studios? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and and be sure to stay in the viddy well loop...because an untied knot is just a string!