I’ve already talked a little about the first of Neil Blomkamp’s Oats Studio offerings and I wasn’t very impressed with it. But I’ve been giving him a chance to put something good out there and, sorry to say, at least so far, he hasn’t fared any better, at least IMO.
So what’s wrong with it all? I’ll tell you.
Now right up front, I will say I have never been a fan of Blomkamp’s work. I haven’t liked any of his movies and I think he’s got problems, usually the same problems, with all of them. So I didn’t go into this expecting to be a huge fan of his shorts. Therefore, let’s look at the things he’s released so far on his YouTube channel.
For his longer pieces, he’s really doing it entirely wrong. Instead of treating these like short films, he’s treating them like extended trailers. That means that he’s trying to tie them into a potential full length feature, which they simply are not. Instead of being stand-alone shorts, they’re more like excerpts from a longer piece. Both of them have had excessive exposition, meant to explain the backstory and how they would fit into a bigger film. Stop that. If you want to make a 30 minute short, make a 30 minute short. Tell a self-contained story. You can have an intro, or a separate video, that explains how this side story fits into your larger vision. But these things are just boring on their own. They don’t give you enough to enjoy, they don’t tell a complete story, they’re just a snippet, buried in exposition. Even if I was a general Blomkamp fan, I wouldn’t care to pay for longer films because these, in and of themselves, are not impressive. There’s supposed to be a new one up in about a week, as of this writing, but I doubt it will be any better. We shall see though.
The short shorts are a little better, mostly because I don’t think Blomkamp has enough time to screw them up. That said, they are ridiculously predictable. The first one with the late night infomercial, the ending was absurdly telegraphed, I knew what was going to happen in the first 30 seconds. The second one, well, God is a dick. What do you want? These are relatively self-contained, mostly because they aren’t intended to be trailers for a larger movie.
Now technically, these are fine. There’s enough of a production budget that the effects are well done. He can get some really good actors into his productions. They look brilliant and he deserves credit for that. But unless you’re just into eye candy, that doesn’t make up for the bad writing and half-assed stories.
And it isn’t like tons of people don’t make some really great shorts on YouTube. I mean, Ruairi Robinson made a proof-of-concept called Leviathan that I’d pay real money to see made into a feature, but he didn’t treat it like it was a feature that he was going to give you a tiny taste of, it was a trailer and that was it. Go watch that if you want to see what I mean.
Neil Blomkamp has potential but he needs someone else to write his scripts and he needs someone else to tell him what to do because by himself, he makes crap. Of course, that’s just my opinion, your mileage may vary, but seeing how he’s running his YouTube channel, where no one is holding his reigns, is very telling. He’s good at coming up with ideas, but taking them to a polished end product just isn’t one of his skills. I hope he improves over time though, because I’d like to see that potential realized. But honestly, this just isn’t it.