BTS:Peace Station Harbinger History and Thoughts

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Peace Station Harbinger History and Thoughts

Foreword - History of the Peace Station

It all began when me, Shok and Dalleer were in the elementary school, I think it was the fourth grade. Before that we had been part of other scifi RPGs at the school, mostly Star Wars.
     Before the Peace Station, however, Dalleer and I created the Gigerdians. Dalleer can be thanked for figuring out the name, the story of that is kind of funny. At first the Gigerdians were allies of the "rebels" known from Star Wars against the Empire and Hevoset (horses). Peace Station, the station, was created by Shok independently. I can't remember when the two were merged. Later, the Bacterians, created by Namgron, were added to the Peace Station. Namgron stopped being active in the Peace Station after elementary school.
     Later the rebels and Empire were removed, and some Star Trek races were included. The UFP, Romulans and such. Which still exist in some form or another. So the idea of the Peace Station universe has existed, and expanded, a lot over the years and is still thriving. I don't know are there any other similar "universes". The one thing I also like about the Peace Station is that it hasn't been created by a single person, but there has been several others. Other people have contributed a small amount to the story too, so it's a very large universe with different kind of stories, as we do have our own unique style.

Harbinger - The Beginning

The idea for a Peace Station movie started during the year 2002. I saw a movie made by one of my classmates at the end of junior high (yläaste). A thought came to my mind: We should try doing a Peace Station movie.
     I presented my idea to Shok and Dalleer; at first they both refused to even consider it. They thought it was a stupid idea that would never work. So, I abandoned the idea. This was during the beginning of the summer.
     Then, several months later, during the autumn Dalleer mentioned about the idea and said that it might actually be a good one. We then started to do the necessary planning. We didn't know anything about filmmaking, but that didn't stop us. The budget was decided to be as small as possible and I do have to admit that it was too small.
     We then informed Shok about our plans and invited him to write a portion of the script. We decided that Dalleer would write the beginning, Shok the middle and me the end. Later on I ended up writing scenes pretty much all over the script.
     It was relatively difficult to figure out a good story with the limited resources we had. We wanted to include the actual Peace Station in the first movie. The reason we included Exploreison was mostly due to the backgrounds for the greenscreens and familiar characters. At first we wanted the story to be canon, later on, mostly due to the inclusion of the "unkown enemy" it was decided to be non-canon. However, later it once again became canon which caused some problems in the main story.
     The initial script was short. I then decided to add some additional scenes that would be filmed if we were to get enough actors.
     We tried to get all the stuff as cheap as possible. The guns were bought from a flea market, the fabric used with the uniforms were bought from Eurokangas, as well as the greenscreen, which was probably the most expensive one. Tricorder and communicators were made from cardboard. The camera was gotten from Työväenopisto. The ears and the unknown enemy cloak were bought from Pilaulupuoti. The eyes were paper and the green skin paint was cheap finger paint from Tiimari, which was probably the biggest mistakes in the movie. Planet battle had a proper green paint. The finger paint was really horrible; the first time you put it it produced horrible feeling of burning on your skin. That lessened on the later times. I still didn't want to put that stuff close to my mouth or eyes, which can be seen well.
     I don't think any of the stuff cost any more than 200 €. So the budget was really small. It was paid by both Dalleer and me.
     Obviously we also needed a filming location(s) and actors. I was able to recruit two people, who in the end didn't really participate in the movie. One was this guy from Kerava I think, who I met in the Jumpgate MMO. Yeah, that's right, I remember you! He seemed interested at first, but never showed up in the filming session 'cause he was "too busy". Well, contact was later lost so I think he just wasn't interested anymore. The second one was this Russian guy who was also pretty interested at first and wanted to get his own ideas to the movie. We weren't too interested in them. He actually even joined on one of our filming sessions.
     Dalleer was able to negotiate our old elementary school as a filming location. At first it was supposed to cost pretty a lot, but due to the "old times" he was able to get it quite cheaply.
     At this point we were quite ready to start our filming project and the long road towards Peace Station Harbinger.

The Filming Begins

The filming started in the beginning of May, 2003, I think. The first filming session was in Sipoo, where our old elementary school was located. However, we weren't able to shoot inside the school yet, and neither of the two additional actors showed up. We were able to shoot few parts of the planet battle, which were later re-shot, however.
     The second time we actually had the Russian guy with us and were able to shoot inside the school. The finger paint was a problem for Dalleer though as he used to much of it and it started dropping. This created a few blooper-scenes. We were able to shoot the Craal's office scene, at least to a some degree, although it would be later re-shot too.
     I think that was the last time the Russian guy was ever with us. We had huge problems with getting actors at first, probably due to being a scifi movie spoken in English although we were living in Finland and were all Finns and that it wasn't a parody or anything similar. More about the language choice later.
     All the later sessions at Sipoo were with just the three of us. We filmed both Craal's office scenes, a few corridor scenes and some other scenes too. Almost all of the scenes were later re-shot. I think only 3 "scenes", a very short ones, were later included in the movie.
     It was definitely the worst filming location. We weren't able to visit all the areas even so we were highly limited with our choices. Paying for that would've been really a bad investment.
     I was able to get us a filming location from Oulunkylä and Itäkeskus, from these työväenopisto places (workers' institutes), due to my dad working there. So after our time at Sipoo was over we moved to Helsinki to the aforementioned places.
     They were far superior to the elementary school. Fortunately, though, the headmaster of the elementary school just changed after our filming was over and no written deal was made for the shooting so we never had to pay anything. Considering how little we were able to do there anyway that was just a very positive thing. And since the workers' institutes were completely free.

English - The Language Choice

So, why we chose to have the movie spoken in English and not in Finnish? We didn't find Finnish to be a fitting language for a sci-fi movie, it just would've sounded too bad. Sure, this did have a negative impact on our actor status. I think the spoken English of the three of us was good enough certainly, after all we're not humans so we don't need to speak English like Englishmen or Americans do.

Actor Shortage - Desparate Recruiting

Once we got to Oulunkylä we still didn't have any more actors. The previous two had completely dropped from the project, so we needed new ones. We just couldn't film much with just the three of us. We mostly ended up re-shooting most of the Craal's office scenes and some lower decks stuff.
     We got quite desparate in finding some new people. I think it was Christmas time 2003 when I started searching for possible people from MSN and ICQ. Anyone who was interested in filmaking and lived in the Uusimaa region. We didn't find many and even fewer replied. However, we did find one very useful guy who ended up being one of the saviors of the Harbinger project.
     The guy we found was the Chinese guy, FinalXX. He didn't respond until January though. He joined up with the "Afro-guy" who ended up being a problem. However, we were still able to continue with additional scenes.

Actor Problems - The Curse of Drill

We wanted to keep the amount of characters as low as possible, there still came rather a lot of different characters. Which of course created some problems. However, the actor of Drill was something that really caused problems. We wanted him to be a guy that wouldn't be played by any of the other main cast.
     The first one was supposed to be the guy from Kerava. The second one was the Afro-guy and the third and last one was the "Hitman". All three caused problems to a some degree. The first one never showed up, the second one spent more time sleeping on the floors and fooling around and the last one kept fooling around and a year or so later ended up trying the life of a "hitman", which failed before it even got started.
     The third guy, the "hitman" in the end ended up being the actual actor since we even managed to shoot all the necessary scenes with him, several years before he did the "hitman" thing.

Brigther Moments - More Actors

Later on we even got more actors to join the project. Mr. Sigil joined in and we managed to shoot even more scenes. First scenes in the school complex in Itäkeskus were shot and more scenes at Oulunkylä. For the first time things were actually starting to look pretty good. Ms. Ak Iram and Mr. Hitman joined later and we had all the necessary actors to shoot all the scenes from the script. Some scenes were not shot however due to organization problems.
     Mr. Sigil also started doing additional 3D-models, so things were starting to look very positive. The shootings continued and we were actually able to wrap things up pretty much. However, one scene didn't go so well. The computer scene was unfortunately poorly coordinated and we ended up messing things up pretty badly, which also, for a short period of time, cost us our filming location at the Oulunkylä. Although the thing was cleared up we never really ended up shooting the rest of the greenscreen shots.
     They weren't necessary, however, since all the necessary scenes had already been shot. So the only thing that needed to be done was the post-production. That ended up taking quite a long time though.

Post-Production - Times of Slow Progress

There are various reasons as to why the post-production has been moving so slowly. One of the biggest, in my opinion, is that aside from 3D-models and textures I've had to do all the stuff myself. And it's a lot of work to do all the greenscreens, 3D animations, sound editing and editing all by yourself. And, more than once, I got either bored or just pissed of at the software.
     Since I had zero experience in all of the software there was a learning curve too and I ended up doing all the stuff again at least once, 'cause the first versions just sucked, a lot. Greenscreens had three different versions, 3D animations had the same thing, sound editing mostly only two or even one versions. Some 3D-models also saw new versions later.

Space scenes also had the problem that it took a long time to render them. Many scenes, with lighting on, can take up to six hours and that's not even the final version. Final versions with everything up can take even 12 hours totally.