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Oats Studios: all the latest from Neill Blomkamp’s experimental film studio

Neill Blomkamp has directed feature films such as District 9, Elysium, and Chappie, but you won’t be able to see his latest films in a theater. His next project is Oats Studios, an experimental film venture that he’s using to produce a number of sci-fi short films, which will be released online.

The short films that he directs will appear on YouTube and Steam. His goal is to try and test out film concepts to see if they can be expanded into bigger projects down the road. Follow along with all of our interviews and updates about Oats Studios and the films that come out of it.

  • Jul 28, 2019

    Andrew Liptak

    This behind-the-scenes documentary shows how Oats Studios filmed its Anthem short film

    In February, Neill Blomkamp’s Oats Studios released a short, live-action teaser film for BioWare’s open-world shooter, Anthem. That film tells a short story that highlights some of the world’s larger story elements, and features some great, live-action visuals that brought it to life. Now, Oats has released a lengthy behind-the-scenes documentary that showed off how it created the short film.

    The 28 minute documentary shows off the incredible effort that went into producing that 3:45 short film: it involved elaborate sets, shoots in Spain and in Hawaii’s rainforests, suits of armor, and plenty of CGI and stunt-work.

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  • Feb 14, 2019

    Andrew Liptak

    Neill Blomkamp’s Oats Studios released a live-action Anthem short film

    District 9 director Neill Blomkamp unveiled a new live-action short film called Conviction from Oats Studios. It’s set in the same world as BioWare’s upcoming open-world power armor shooter Anthem.

    Blomkamp set up his studio in 2017, describing it as an experimental incubator in which he can prototype ideas and see what sticks before fully committing to a longer work. Over the course of several months, he released a series of lengthy science fiction short films on YouTube along with a smattering of other zany experiments.

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  • Apr 20, 2018

    Andrew Liptak

    Neill Blomkamp’s Firebase crowdfunding campaign comes to an early end

    Just over a week after it announced that it was collecting money to crowdfund a sequel to its short concept film Firebase, Neill Blomkamp’s Oats Studios says that it will refund contributions because it hadn’t raised enough money to “do something [truly] awesome.”

    It released a series of short films last year that were intended as conceptual starting points for much larger projects. Blomkamp told The Verge earlier this month that the campaign was an attempt “to set up a situation where [fans] fuel our ability to continue to make stuff, and just have this one-on-one relationship with the audience.”

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  • Apr 11, 2018

    Andrew Liptak

    Neill Blomkamp wants to crowdfund his next big Oats Studios project

    Image: Oats Studios

    In 2017, District 9 and Chappie writer-director Neill Blomkamp launched Oats Studios, a production house designed to experiment with new ways of developing projects ranging from short CGI films to longer story concepts that could eventually become feature-length projects. Now he’s announced his plans to turn one of those shorter films, Firebase, into a much larger project — and he wants fans to fund it.

    Blomkamp told The Verge that just as he designed the studio to experiment with stories, he’s also hoping to experiment with the relationship he and Oats have with fans, “trying to set up a situation where [fans] fuel our ability to continue to make stuff, and just have this one-on-one relationship with the audience.”

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  • Nov 30, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    How Neill Blomkamp and Unity are shaping the future of filmmaking with Adam: The Mirror

    Last year, the company behind the Unity game engine released Adam, a proof-of-concept short film designed to show off its cinematic creation tools. It doesn’t have much of a story: it’s just a robot escaping a prison. But Unity Technologies earned enough of a response to justify developing the story into something bigger, and its representatives turned to Neill Blomkamp’s Oats Studios.

    Blomkamp, the writer-director of Elysium and District 9, launched Oats earlier this year as an experiment. He wanted to develop his film ideas without waiting years for the attention and resources of a typical Hollywood studio. Earlier this summer, he released a series of videos — Rakka, Firebase, and Zygote — along with several other shorter films, all of which could potentially be developed into more extensive projects down the road. Meanwhile, Unity unveiled a new version of Cinemachine, software that lets creators direct their own CG short films. Cinemachine is designed to make minute adjustments in colors, lighting, shadows, and camera placement, all while rendering the graphics in real time.

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  • Aug 3, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    District 9 director Neill Blomkamp shows off his CGI chops in his latest short Kapture

    Earlier this summer, director Neill Blomkamp announced a new creative workshop called Oats Studios, and the filmmaker has just released its latest project. Kapture is a documentary-style CG short about a pair of weapons designers who test out their their latest creations, serving as a callback to a critical scene in Blomkamp’s debut District 9, while also highlighting the oddball sensibilities that have been a focal point of most of Oats Studios’ projects.

    Thus far, the studio has released three long-form short films: Rakka, Firebase, and Zygote, each of which Blomkamp hopes to scale up to feature-length projects. But the director has also been releasing more experimental projects — things like Cooking with Bill, and a darkly comic three-minute short starring Sharlto Copley as God.

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  • Jul 12, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    Neill Blomkamp on creating the horrific creature in his latest short film Zygote

    Last month, District 9 director Neill Blomkamp launched his experimental short film project, Oats Studios, releasing an alien invasion film called Rakka, and later, an alternate-history Vietnam War film called Firebase. Now, the director has shared his latest short film, Zygote, which features War of the Worlds and Twilight star Dakota Fanning.

    Compared to the other films, Zygote is a comparably straightforward affair. It opens with two people trapped in a mining facility somewhere in the Arctic Circle. They’re fleeing a horrific creature made of body parts from other members of the station.

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  • Jun 28, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    Neill Blomkamp on his next short film, Firebase, and life in a virtual simulation

    Earlier this month, Neill Blomkamp began releasing short films from his experimental film venture, Oats Studios. First came Rakka, an alien-invasion concept. That was followed by Cooking With Bill, a wacky infomercial that goes terribly wrong. Oats’ third and most recent short film is Firebase, a story about something lurking in the rain forests while the Vietnam War rages on around it.

    Firebase opens with a disfigured American soldier tied to a post. Soon, American GIs start coming across bodies with strange, horrifying growths under the skin. When they look into the sky, they see a Huey dismantled in mid-flight, while more footage shows tanks and planes floating in the air. The CIA starts investigating the unexplained occurrences, and a team gears up to confront the River God, a seemingly invincible supernatural creature behind the strange incidents — and possibly other things beyond their comprehension.

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  • Jun 20, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    The latest video from Neill Blomkamp’s Oats Studios is a wacky infomercial gone awry

    Last week, Neil Blomkamp released Rakka, the first short video from his experimental short film project Oats Studios. The alien invasion film feels as though it’s ready to be scaled up into a feature film, and is one of several that he will release this summer. However, those serious projects aren’t the thing that we’ll see from him, and the latest video is a good example of what else they have up their sleeves: a twisted infomercial.

    Indeed, the trailer for the studio promised some “weird shit” was headed our way, and Cooking With Bill - Damasu 950 certainly falls into that category. The three-minute video is set in a 1980s-era kitchen before a studio audience, where a presenter unveils a ridiculous-looking kitchen instrument called the Damasu 950. He asks viewers if they’ve ever had trouble cutting something in the kitchen with a traditional knife. He proceeds to demonstrate the contraption, a gas-powered machine with some insane spinning knives and a chainsaw blade. The result... doesn’t go well.

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  • Jun 15, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    Director Neill Blomkamp breaks down his new sci-fi short Rakka

    A couple of weeks ago, District 9 and Chappie director Neill Blomkamp unveiled Oats Studios, his new project focusing on experimental short films. At the time, Blomkamp described the studio as an attempt to remain creative in a film industry that rewards endless sequels and franchises. Through Oats, he’ll be developing a range of potential projects, from serious science fiction to wackier concepts, with the hope that some of them may eventually make the leap to full-length feature films.

    The first film from Oats Studios, Rakka, is now available for streaming on YouTube and Steam, and it depicts the aftermath of an alien invasion. The year is 2020, and aliens have enslaved humanity, and altering the Earth’s atmosphere. But Rakka isn’t a conventional short film. Instead, it’s a series of scenes depicting various points of view. Some scenes show what the aliens are doing to humanity; others track a resistance movement led by Sigourney Weaver, and an escaped prisoner named Amir. Later, in a climactic battle, resistance fighters shoot down an alien aircraft and track down its pilot.

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  • The trailer for Neill Blomkamp’s Volume 1 delivers on its promise of ‘more weird shit’

    District 9 director Neill Blomkamp is working on a new project under his latest undertaking, Oats Studios. The company’s YouTube channel released the official trailer for Volume 1, presumably the first entry in a bizarre and bloody series of experimental films. Or possibly it’s a collection of images from a handful of those short films, as in Oats’ first volume of short films.

    The Volume 1 trailer features a nonsensical mash-up of blood-soaked bodies, sci-fi dystopias, and Sigourney Weaver. Truly, I have no idea what’s going on here. There’s levitation, a whip-toting lizard creature, and (best guess) the cooking show from hell. At the very least, it’s consistent with the teaser released last month, in which it would appear that the aforementioned lizard race has imprisoned the people of Earth.

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  • Jun 3, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    District 9 director Neill Blomkamp on why he’s starting his own movie studio

    'CHAPPIE' Photocall In Berlin
    Photo by Sean Gallup / Getty Images

    It’s been an eventful two years since Neill Blomkamp’s last film, Chappie, hit theaters. He spent part of that time working to develop a fifth installment of the Alien franchise, only to have it overtaken by Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant. At the same time, he directed an installment of BMW’s The Hire series, starring Clive Owen, and signed on to help write and direct an adaptation of Thomas Sweterlitsch’s upcoming novel The Gone World.

    But what’s more exciting is Blomkamp’s next project, something that he’s been teasing on Twitter and Instagram for months now. Oats Studios is his attempt to create a new outlet for some of his ideas, putting together a series of short films that will be released online for free, in an attempt to see if one or more will gain some traction online. The hope is that the studio can be used to experiment with ideas that can later be scaled up into feature films, much like his short Alive in Joburg was turned into District 9. It’s not entirely clear when the short films will be available to stream, but Blomkamp says that it will be soon.

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  • May 29, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    Watch a trailer for Neill Blomkamp’s mysterious project, Oats Studios

    Neill Blomkamp is embarking on an experimental filmmaking venture that he’s calling Oats Studios. The District 9 and Elysium director released a trailer for some of the studio’s upcoming projects, which will be released to Steam in the next couple of months.

    The trailer opens with a shot of an overgrown Eiffel Tower, as a voiceover explains that aliens have come to exterminate humanity. The trailer then shows off quite a bit more: a woman shooting an alien in a red-lit corridor, American soldiers flying over Vietnam, trucks flying Texas flags driving through the desert, a whole bunch of cool-looking aliens and quite a bit more. The trailer explains that what’s coming soon is a series of short, experimental films called Oats: Volume 1.

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