It's no surprise that Avengers: Infinity War is breaking records at the box office. The movie is the latest installment in a well-known franchise, backed by the never-ending money supply that Disney has to offer. Even under a rock, you would have received a spam email about Avengers because Disney is a marketing machine, operating with years of experience and clout.
But what about new filmmakers? What about artists who have stories they want to tell but don’t have the money (or desire) to purchase an existing intellectual property with a built-in fan base? How do you transport an audience to a different world without the use of green screens and multimillion-dollar special effects budgets? Dallas-based Tempest Studios is answering those questions with its sci-fi film Monochrome: The Chromism.
Monochrome: The Chromism is a sci-fi action-adventure story set in a dystopian world that exists completely in black and white. When people called “Hues” start turning color, the other fearful residents of the black-and-white world start hunting them down.
In the beginning, Kodi Zene, writer and director of Monochrome, created a trailer to show proof of concept of his idea. Using that trailer to illustrate his vision for the film, Zene was able to start a word-of-mouth campaign to build excitement about the project.
To create a post-apocalyptic world, Tempest Studios had to work with what it could find. Without the luxuries of a large studio, the crew stationed itself in El Paso and did a majority of the shooting in West Texas.
“When we approached the crew and the cast, we had the teaser, we had a website, the concept going and awards already under our belt for the teaser,” Zene says. “We wanted them to be on board for the ride and believe in the project enough and what we’re trying to do. So financially, we came through at the end and were able to self-fund.”
The film’s underlying message is about equality, and Tempest Studios wanted the cast to be locals who represented that vision. Through casting notices on local message boards and booths at the Dallas Fan Expo, the studio received roughly 500 submissions from hopeful actors. Lozen Fukem, producer of Monochrome, made sure to speak to every actor to create a personal connection.
Ryan Barnes, one of the actors in the film, said the process for auditioning was a welcome departure from the norm.
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“When they were interested in you but they couldn’t see you in person, they did Skype calls, so it’s still personal even when it’s not," Barnes says. "From an actor’s standpoint, that was huge."
Run time for Monochrome: The Chromism is roughly 60 minutes, and the film serves as an origin story for a longer series. The plan is to create a trilogy of films with the first movie in the final stages of writing.
Tempest Studios is in the critical stage of promoting its film with the aim of screening it at film festivals within the next year. Without the aid of studio backing, the crew has persevered with the assistance of local talent passionate about creating a film with a strong social message.
“We got a lot of favors and people wanting to help out, so we got some really awesome locations. Really just feeding everyone on production was the most expensive part,” Zene says. “The promotion part and post is probably the most expensive part in our case.”