Whatever you feel about the more recent works of writer-director Neill Blomkamp, it cannot be denied that District 9 is an extraordinary feature length debut. Released in 2009, this apartheid allegory saw humans oppressing aliens in fenced-off slums, and it earned four Academy Award nominations. While his other films – 2013’s Elysium, and 2015’s Chappie – never again reached those heady heights, Blomkamp has developed a plan to further his creative career in a different way, after his Alien 5 project essentially died on the vine.
The director has founded Oats Studios with a simple mission – he’s returning to the methods that gave life to District 9 in the first place. The filmmaker intends to use this studio to make a variety of shorts and release them online in the hope that one or more of them will gain enough traction with the public to warrant them being turned into feature films. This approach worked for him before – when his short film Alive in Joburg eventually became District 9 – and he hopes more great movies will come from it.
“At the end of making Chappie, I wanted to try to figure out a different method for making films and expressing myself,” said the director. “I felt that if I could sell smaller pieces directly to the audience, the sale of those small experimental pieces would keep this machine alive so that it became an ecosystem that was self-sufficient. And I could, at any point, pick one of the pieces that I made that felt like it resonated with the audience, and turn it into a feature film.”
While the process almost sounds like a pilot season for movies, it’s a refreshing thought that the feature length output of a studio be determined by audience interest and appetite, rather than the narrow, preconceived notions of executives.
Inevitably, this venture raises the question of whether any of these short films might give rise to sequels for District 9, Elysium, or Chappie. Blomkamp shut down the idea of direct follow-up movies – but did confirm that a project is in development, set within the same fictional world of District 9.
“The whole point here is to just be autonomous and just do whatever we want. With District 9, I plan on making another film in that world. To go back and work with WETA, and make the film would be cool, but anything that preexists like that may not be the best fit for whatever we’re trying here.”
It’s clear that Blomkamp’s not interested in being restricted or constrained in any way, with regard to his creative ideas – but he’s sure to notice that any story connected to his highly successful District 9 tale will gain a great deal of interest from audiences very quickly. We’ll just have to wait and see what that spinoff might be.
Source: Screen Rant