British Computer Society Interviews Directors Ben Alpi and Andrew Dymond

British Computer Society Interviews Directors Ben Alpi and Andrew Dymond

Justin Richards of the British Computer Society talks to Ben Alpi from Runic Films and Andrew Dymond from Filmcell International about visual effects and the way that technology is shaping the film industry.





To learn more about the British Computer Society, visit

Ben & Rick Return to the Blog for Captain America: Civil War Review

Captain America Civil WarThe Captain America! Redefining Modern Myth blog returns! Rick and Ben are back with independent reviews and analysis of Marvel’s latest film Captain America: Civil War. Check out Ben Alpi and Rick Arthur’s unique double blind, double shot movie review!


Read it here!


Comment! Share! Let freedom ring!

Hashtag Visual Effects Competition Winners Announced

The Foundry has announced the winners of their first NUKE Non-Commercial competition! Many thanks to all who participated. Congratulations to the winners Salvatore Parigi, Ilan Fremder, Miguel Guerrero, Andi Novianto, and Madhuka Gunasekera! It has been a fantastic show of creativity and ingenuity. Contestants were tasked with creating a graphical interface for “X”, played by Gigi Edgley, of Runic Films’ forthcoming short science fiction film Hashtag. An exercise in using NUKE Non-Commercial, The Foundry released a non-commercial learning edition of their awarding winning NUKE software in April 2015. (Read our announcement back in July HERE.)


Check out the winning entries below and congratulate the winners in The Community forum.


Salvatore Parigi

Best Sequence 
The Foundry: Salvatore’s unique design and interaction between X and the HUD elements as well as the creative workflow and problem solving in the project scripts really impressed the judges. Salvatore took a different approach to the challenge and the result is a beautiful piece. Well done!



Ilan Fremder

Best Shot 
The Foundry: The judges felt that this shot was a very complete project demonstrating strong NUKE and compositing skill. Ilan’s project had one of the best organised node graphs and lots of great gizmos. Congratulations!



Miguel Guerrero

Best Sequence Runner-Up 
The Foundry: The beautiful color palette and thoughtful design made this sequence stand out. Miguel’s entry shows off his compositing skill as well as unique design aesthetic. Great work!



Andi Novianto

Best Shot Runner-Up 
The Foundry: Andi went above and beyond the brief, creating a range of animated HUD elements. The judges loved the surprise headgear in this shot. Good job!



Madhuka Gunasekera

Judges Pick 
The Foundry: This sequence wowed the judges who all loved the beautiful lighting and strong compositing, making this the clear choice for judges pick!



To see all of the great entries head over to The Foundry’s The Community forum.


Runic Films Teams Up with The Foundry for VFX Competition

Runic Films has teamed up with award-winning visual effects software company The Foundry in their NUKE Non-Commercial Summer Competition 2015. With over $40,000 in prizes, the competition challenges visual effects artists from around the world to use The Foundry’s new non-commercial version of their award-winning NUKE software to create the visual effects for a sequence of raw footage from Runic Films’ and Little Empire Production’s science fiction thriller Hashtag.


Hashtag stars Gigi Edgley (Farscape, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge) as “X”, the ultimate social media maven. In the film, X uses a new kind of computer interface. What kind you ask? That’s what the artists must create! “I have a defined concept of how X’s interface will work, but it will be great to see what other artists come up with,” says Ben Alpi, the director of the much anticipated short film. Ben added, “We’re thrilled to be a part of this contest.? NUKE is a fantastic product and we’re really happy to support the free version so more artists can learn it. Prizes in the competition include hardware, software, and subscriptions from The Foundry, Wacom, NVIDIA fxphd, and the Production COLLECTIVE for the winning sequence and/or shot.


Hashtag - The Foundry Team Up

As Hashtag moves to the visual effects stage of post production, part of their visual effects pipeline will include The Foundry’s NUKE, the world’s leading compositing software. NUKE, like many of The Foundry’s products, has been used in numerous feature films, television series, music videos, and commercials. Some major examples include Pacific Rim, Star Trek, The Hobbit trilogy and Oscar winners Lincoln, Gravity and Life of Pi. Further, every film since 2008 that’s been nominated for a Best Visual Effects Oscar has used The Foundry’s software, particularly NUKE. In television, examples include Once Upon A Time, Falling Skies, and Emmy winning series Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones.


But what is compositing? “Compositing is cutting out and putting together two or more images to make a single image,” says Deke Kincaid, the Visual Effects Supervisor of Hashtag. “Placing a hand painted matte painting of a deep canyon under “Luke” in Star Wars, or a digital dinosaur into a scene in Jurassic Park, that’s compositing.” Deke is also Media and Entertainment OEM Development Manager for The Foundry. “When they told me they were looking for footage to use as the basis for the NUKE non-commercial competition, I knew Hashtag would be a perfect fit.”


Hashtag was funded by a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in December 2014 with the film quickly going into production the following February. The Backers of the project got news of the contest, and of the release of several seconds of raw Hashtag footage, on the day it launched. Backers enjoyed getting a first glimpse although one Backer @Ulathar Tweeted, “Teasing us with a 10 seconds clip has me convinced that @JyovianStorm [producer Jyotika Virmani] is evil and enjoys torturing backers.” Jyotika replies, “Our Backers are great, and obviously funny! I know the Backers are waiting for more, but I was super excited to be able to share even this. It shows the Backers a rare insight into the complex movie-making process.”


“Deke reports that 500 contestants downloaded the content for the contest on the first day. That’s great!” added Ben. “We hope there are many more.” Runic Films will not use competition submissions directly in the final film, the footage from Hashtag is only intended as the foundation of the contest.


The NUKE Non-Commercial Summer Competition 2015 is going on now and with a deadline of 15 September 2015 at 11:59 PM (PDT). Entries will be judged by an expert team with winners for the best sequence and best shot. To take part in the competition, artists enter here:

[Edit: NVIDIA joined the competition bringing the prize total increased from $34,000 to over $40,000.]


Kevin Rubio’s New ‘Star Wars’ Parody

Now with over 100,000 views! Hashtag co-writer and Star Wars parody master Kevin Rubio with the help of Shant Jordan and Synaptic Studios have released a mash-up of two films you wouldn’t expect. Star Wars and…


I helped out in the effort by creating the new title crawl and blended it into the visual effects footage. It’s probably the best known opening titles in cinema, so I was glad to pitch in. Waste no time, check out the video below!


This isn’t the first time Kevin and Shant joined up to poke some fun at the venerable Star Wars franchise. If you didn’t know, Kevin Rubio and a small band of rebels created one of the first fan films ever to go viral, the Star Wars/COPS mash-up TROOPS. Complete with Fargo-accented Stormtroopers and full visual effects, the pre-Youtube mockumentary was shared via files around the world. I was at college for visual effects at the time and as I collected the four file set, I never thought I’d meet several of the makers ten years later. Please enjoy!


‘Hashtag’ Moves into Post Production

‘Hashtag’ Moves into Post Production

(Originally posted to our Kickstarter here.)


Hello friends!


Director Ben here with an update on Hashtag. Good gosh golly have we been busy!


Pre-production… DONE!
Principle Photography… DONE!
Rough Cut… DONE!
Editing… UNDERWAY!


Thanks to a wonderful cast, an awesome crew, and the the support of our intrepid Backers, we completed Hashtag principle photography on March 12th! Filming took place on two fabulous stages, IllusionLuka Studios in Burbank, and Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood. Our first four days at IllusionLuka were February 19-22 and then at Gnomon March 12th. Gigi Edgley, Erryn Arkin, and Simone Alex were joined by Todd Tucker, Michael Anthony, and Lucas Bessey for cameo appearances. We also had some awesome background actors including our composer Joe Terrana and his wife Linae.


Hashtag Backers On Set


It was also great to meet our Invite Level Backers on the set! They met the crew and cast of Hashtag, had lunch with Gigi, Jyotika and myself, and saw the filmmaking process first hand.


And now, the long road ahead! We have completed a rough cut of the film and are now working to refine it. Once the edit is complete, it’s onward to visual effects, motion graphics, ADR/looping, sound design and editing, music, and color correction. I must note that this process will take time! We want to make the best film possible and this is a complex science fiction project with several layers and elements. That means the coordination of many parts and people to harmonize into a most excellent chorus. Be steadfast! Once we’ve completed the film, there are several more processes to complete including converting the film to different formats, authoring the DVD and Blu-ray, editing the special features, and creating all the remaining Backer rewards of awesome!


Thank you very much again to our cast, crew, Backers, and supporters! Off we go!


Director, Hashtag


Hashtag Day 4 Selfie
One more on-set selfie: Deke Kincaid, Ben Alpi, Jyotika Virmani, and Gigi Edgley

Myth Blog Celebrates Second Anniversary

Ben and Rick are back! Their Captain America! Redefining Modern Myth blog officially began on February 4, 2011. Three years in the making, the blog features a series of personal emails between the pair which started out asking the question: If they were to be asked to bring Captain America, a character with 70 years of history, to the big screen, how would they do it?  They explored the character, his creators and the life and times of the WWII era as well as the foundations of storytelling and character.  The blog also featured many portions of scripts and vignettes Ben and Rick were inspired to write by their communications.


“We certainly never expected to make our conversions public, but when we looked at all the great material we had collected and created, we started talking about doing more with it,” explains Ben.


Rick adds, “Every time I would send something to Ben, he would come back with amazing and unexpected insights. His script at the start of the blog, Captain America: A Beginning is worth the price of admission alone.” The blog also features illustrations and collages on almost every post created by Rick specially for the posts they appear in.  Ben also contributed graphics on a few of the posts.


The “Emails” series ran for six months totaling close to eighty entries.  “I wish we could have recorded our phone calls as well. They were pretty epic,” Ben adds. “Rick’s passion for not only the material, but also good storytelling is something not to be kept under wraps. ” We’ve considered doing podcasts which I think would be fantastic, but time has been tight for both of us.”


“The Myth Discussion blog stands on its own and is so chock full of detail that I am finding new ideas even after six or seven readings. Compelling,” says Rick.


Also featured on the blog were “double” reviews of superhero films which were released over the run including ?THOR,?X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, and of course CAPTAIN AMERICA: FIRST AVENGER. Rick and Ben wrote independent reviews of the films and didn’t get to read the other’s until it was posted.  The dynamic duo admits it was funny how similar their reviews ended up being fundamentally, but how different they were in many respects as well. Rick also wrote an excellent review of another Marvel hit, THE AVENGERS.


Rick and Ben both speak about the enjoyment they derived from collaborating on the blog.  On the subject Ben says, “I miss working with Rick a lot and I really hope we can team up again soon.  He’s one of the most creative fellows I know and an excellent collaborator. It was great to do the anniversary post with him again. Looking back on the last one we wrote, wow what a difference!”


Rick has moved to New Mexico and has added teaching to his many hats. Ben has gotten married and completed the short film, Cowboy Creed. For more check the blog!


To read the second anniversary post, click here:


To read the blog from the very beginning, click here:

Cowboy Creed Director and Editor Interview

Cowboy Creed director/writer Ben Alpi along with editor Jeff Handy were interviewed on the long-running Digital Production Buzz podcast. Hosted by Larry Jordan and Mike Horton and produced by Cirina Catania, Ben and Jeff answer questions about making Cowboy Creed, an action-packed short shot on 16mm film. (The Cowboy Creed segment begins at about 29 minutes in.)


Many thanks to Cirina, Larry, and Mike for having Ben and Jeff on the show!


Listen for free here:


On iTunes:


Direct link to the MP3:

Mini Epic Western ‘Cowboy Creed’ Complete!

From the director’s apple box…


As the director and writer of the short film Cowboy Creed, I’m very happy to announce that our mini epic is complete! With a Herculean effort by our post production staff including Jeff Handy our editor, Joel Bellucci our visual effects supervisor, Joe Terrana our music composer and performer, Ralph Miller our sound designer and foley artist, Chris Orazi sound mixer, David Berry color correction, and myself working a bit of movie magic as well, we completed the film in time for our first private screening at the Cahuenga Theater in Hollywood. Invited to the intimate showing were our high-level Kickstarter donors, cast and crew, and friends and family including an Oscar-winning producer, and cinema immortals Walter Koenig, Richard Bustillo, and Greg Jein amongst others. I’m glad to say without any bias (ahem!) that the film looks and sounds fantastic in the theater! We had a Q&A session after the screening with the attending cast and crew which was a lot of fun. The reception of the film was quite positive, one of the big questions being ‘how did you fit so much into the film on such a tight budget?’ That is of course thanks to a dollop of ingenuity and an amazing team who reduced their rates to help put as much quality on the screen as possible. Many thanks to the cast and crew for their efforts in helping bring my vision to fruition.


Our next step is to submit Cowboy Creed to festivals around the world. Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to see the film in a fest near you!


Until next time!
Director/Writer of Cowboy Creed


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Cowboy Creed is a Western short film from writer/director Ben Alpi, producer JT Tepnapa and Cinematographer David Berry. It’s a co-production of Runic Films and Blue Seraph Productions.


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‘Cowboy Creed’ Trailer Released!



LOS ANGELES, Runic Films and Blue Seraph Productions are proud to release their highly anticipated trailer for their short Western epic, Cowboy Creed.



‘Cowboy Creed’ Official Trailer watch it in HD on Vimeo.


The period short film stars Kendall Wells, John Carrigan, Tara Platt, and Anthony De Longis with Doug Drexler, Leandro Cano, and Wayne Webb. Directed and written by Ben Alpi, Cowboy Creed tells the story of Phineas (Wells), a young man who must face the most harrowing showdown of his life when the international criminal ?Limey? (Carrigan) kidnaps his ladylove Miss Graves (Platt). The trailer will feature rich original music composed and performed by Joe Terrana and textured sound design by Ralph Miller. The film is produced by JT Tepnapa with cinematography by David Berry.


Also released today was their first official poster featuring artwork by Scott Deyett of inHouse Graphics.


Principal photography was completed in December and is currently in post-production bringing together composer Terrana and visual effects wizard Jo?l Bellucci.


A release date for the complete Cowboy Creed film has not been chosen, but as director Ben Alpi says, “Keep your ear to the rail for more.”















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Bob Alpi, 818-588-6880


Runic Films is an Los Angeles-based film production and entertainment company dedicated to upholding the traditions of mythic storytelling.


Blue Seraph Productions is a Los Angeles production company. Their previous work has been featured in the New York Times, BBC, Variety, Frontiers, Fab magazine, the Today Show, MSNBC, and other international news outlets.