The Guardians’ of the Universe return to protect the fabric of the cosmos from disintegrating after a magical toy has been stolen.
The Return of The Royals(ROTR) is a labor of love. The idea for this superhero short film came at the beginning of 2016 during Production class. I had finished my first assignment, a short vignette, a combination of a song and visuals that reflect who we are. It’s only afterward, I realized the film that I should have made. Thus, the superhero short was born.
ROTR is mash-up of The Royals, a graphic novel manuscript (co-written by my spouse & I); an ode to 90’s cartoon nostalgia, and of course sports references. It’s an amalgamation of the past and present; the cartoons and animated films that inspired me as a child to create my own original superheroes and my current inspirations. Most of all, it’s a dedication to the love of my life.
I’m very thankful to have been given the opportunity to create this film and for all the love, support, and encouragement. “Producing a film, like playing football is truly a team sport.” We encountered several challenges and obstacles along the way, such as a mini-tornado, re-shooting, multiple re-writes due to injuries, no lead actress (I cameoed). In the end, I think it was my spouse and universe saying, “Sara, go back into acting.”
Nevertheless, we worked together, rose above and pulled through- as a team. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to the cast & crew, and everyone who helped along the way.
Thank you for helping me bring this film to life!
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James McKinnon as Super Toy
Jason Russell (Guest Star)
Sara Barton (Cameo)
Jo Ambrosia as Sailor Moon
Head Director:Sara Barton
Co-Directors: Paolo “PJ” Piccolo and Nicky Mudryy
Screenplay/Story: Sara Barton
Editors/VFX:Paolo “PJ” Piccolo, Sarah Beim(Vellichor Productions), Sara Barton and Anna Lee Hewing
Executive Producer: Sara Barton
Co-Producers: Pocky Southmayd, Nicole Hope Caliendo, April Twist
Stabbed! is an homage to the infamous shower scene from the film, Psycho, the gritty look of the 1970’s and early 80’s slasher films and the Looney Tunes cartoon, “Falling Hare”(1943), starring Bugs Bunny.
I started writing the script for this film a few weeks after I finished post-production for BB-8 Goes to Washington for Adobe Premiere Editing class in Spring 2016. My professor, Olivier David loved the idea and this would be Miranda’s 1st starring role. (I admit it, even though I transferred into film, I’ll always be animator at heart) I had intended to film it over the summer, unfortunately, the weather made shooting unbearable. (It felt like 100 degrees F in my apartment)
I did what any good screenwriter would do. I hung on to the script until an opportunity arose, and it did! It was Fall 2016, Production class; Sal Petrosino thought it was hilarious. Except, I had to change the ending, it was extremely bloody. In the original ending, Miranda jumps on top of its owner; it’s the final stab and blood explodes everywhere. I relished the idea of creating a blood bomb for the special effects. Yet, looking back, if I’d gone through with it. There would have an epic mess in my bathroom. The difference between a film set or your own personal space- clean up!
With the script tweaked, now came the fun part; the fake blood. Like any aspiring prop and special effect builder, I started working on this over the summer. I wanted to create fake blood that was free of red dye and could be made from simple cooking ingredients. I test a bunch of recipes, some involving raspberries and coffee grounds. However, I had hit a roadblock. I wasn’t getting the right color.
During the Fall semester, I brainstormed a solution in Food & Bio-Art class, my co-professors, Sally Bozutto and Kirby Gookin were intrigued. After some trials and errors, I found that beets produced the perfect color to resemble blood. Another issue arose, the color only lasted a few weeks, our science advisor, Sebastian C. Cocioba, recommend sodium benzoate, a preservative, commonly used to make pickles. While I’d had solved the dye issue, the base was another. In fake blood, there’s a corn syrup base. This can easily be resolved by making a simple syrup (It’s made of sugar & water).
So, I had the dye and the base, but when combined it was still too liquidy. When I changed the ratio of sugar to water, it either turned to candy(it delicious, but not useful for my film) or resembled human tissue. It was an unexpected surprise, nevertheless, I added it to my film. I still wasn’t able to solve the problem. Ironically, when it was time to shoot; I had to use the simple syrup and regular red food dye (which I’m allergic too). It’s not a fatal allergy, but it leads to itching, a rash, mild swelling. The situation would have been worse if it was ingested.
Production went smoothly, Kharise and I worked well together as co-directors. The stabbing effect was thanks to Cameron and the fake prop knife. (It has a plastic retractable blade) We all did a really good job that day and wrapped early. However, I did make one last minute change to the script. The victim arrives from the beach. I realized I wasn’t comfortable being filmed nude and in this scenario wearing a swimsuit is more plausible. If you notice on the set, I hung my mom’s Gloria Gannor vinyl, “I will survive”; to hint foreshadowing.
Post-Production is where the magic happens. Sarah Beim and I always work well as a team. Initially, we wanted to replicate the Psycho shower scene, but we decided to cut the footage differently and be as original as possible. It was filmed in color, but we used filters to change it to black and white and replicate the gritty 1970’s effect for the beginning. While, cutting, Sarah thought that Miranda was too cute to be scary. It wasn’t my intention, but it’s true, Miranda is adorable. The filters take the audience through 3 decades, in the beginning, is the 1970’s, then the 50’s- 60’s and the ending is more contemporary.
In the ending of the original script, Miranda is supposed to put on a pair of glass, as an homage to the film, “Pulp Fiction”. It was difficult to do this as stop-motion, yet Sarah came up with a brilliant idea to use the Thug Life black shades. It was a nice touch.
One last thing, wondering what inspired the G & R card joke? Watch the cartoon.
In case you haven’t figured it out; the G and R card are a reference to the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) rating system.
Miranda, Sara Barton and Cameron Xing (the one who stabbed me!)
Kharise King & Sara Barton
Sarah Beim(Vellichor Productions) & Sara Barton
Prop Design: Sara Barton
Miranda is manufactured by Monster Factory
Psycho-OST- Bernard Herrman(1960)- 15)Peephole & 17)The Murder
Kill Bill: Vol.1 OST- Quincy Jones 16) Ironside
Pulp Fiction OST- Dick Dale & His Del-Tones 1)Misirlou
More Dirty Dancing- The Surfaris(1988)- Wipe-Out
Hot Butter(1972)- Pop-corn
SVA Bio-Art Department
Prof. Sally Bozutto
Sebastian C. Cocioba
and Prof. Olivier David for his encouragement
As a fan of Rooster Teeth’s animated series, RWBY; I was ecstatic to learn that Digi Kolobong and I were going to interview: Miles Anthony Luna (Head-writer/Co-Director/ V.O.A: Jaune) and Barbara Julie Dunkelman (V.O.A: Yang) at New York Comic Con.
Digi and I dressed to our absolute best for this interview. Digi cosplayed as RWBY’s very own, Weiss Schnee; and yes, she built that fantastic sword! I cosplayed as the female version of Takashi Shirogane(Shiro) from Netflix’s animated series, Voltron: Legendary Defender (2016). I crafted the top and the cyborg arm. (In case you’re curious, Digi is pregnant with her second child. It’s a girl!)
I won’t drop spoilers; except this one. During the interview, it was nice to learn that the spirit of RWBY’s creator, the late great Monty Oum lives on within the series.
Edited by: Sara Barton
SBR Correspondent: Anita C. Wang
Guest Correspondent: Digi Kolobong
Team RWBY: Barbara Julie Dunkelman (VOA: Yang) and Miles Anthony Luna (Head- writer/Co-Director/ VOA: Jaune)
Director-DP: Sara Barton
Producers: Sara Barton & Anita C. Wang
Editors: Sarah Beim (Vellichor Productions) & Sara Barton
Special Thanks: Vellichor Productions, Sal Petrosino, Mike Delvecchio and SVA
This was an assignment for Final Cut Pro class. The objective was to pick a film, and create a teaser or trailer that alluded to a different plot line. In the spirit of Halloween, I turned the beloved Pixar classic, Toy Story into a horror film.
In the teaser, you can hear the soundtracks from: Halloween, Psycho and The Exorcist. Apparently, according to Mental Floss; it turns out that a few scenes from Toy Story were inspired by the The Exorcist and other classic horror films…Go figure!