News Release

Sci-Fi Film Thrills On Shoestring Budget

A science fiction film due to premiere in Derby features Hollywood-style battle scenes and visual effects – at just eight minutes long and a cost of £1,000.

Halo: Baptism By Fire is one of the short films to be screened by final year University of Derby Film and Video degree students at Derby’s QUAD arts centre from 8.30pm on Monday June 6, for their Degree Show night. A limited number of free tickets, subject to availability, can be obtained from QUAD box office on 01332 290606.

The film is from an original script based on Microsoft’s Halo computer games series, which has sold more than 40 million copies. The stories of an interstellar war between super-soldier humans and an alien alliance called The Covenant have been compared to a modern day Star Wars, in their popularity and impact.

 For their final year degree project Derby students Jamie Ashworth (writer, director and editor); Chris Bebb (production manager and visual effects supervisor), Tim Sumner (director of photography), Luke Power (cameraman) and Dan Gray (3D artist) set themselves the challenge of squeezing blockbuster thrills from a shoestring budget.

The film follows the progress of the son of a dead soldier as he himself trains and then goes off to fight. It features live action, location shots, costumes, and computer generated images of laser blasts and attacking alien warships.

Jamie, 22, now based in Derby but originally of St Albans, Hertfordshire, said: “We’re all big fans of the Halo series and while there have been short films done before, we didn’t think they fully captured the spirit of the games.

“We made the suits ourselves, shot on location and used computer generated and other special effects. For example we had physical make-up for soldiers’ bullet wounds, and a 3D modeller who created models of alien ships which were then edited into the film using computer generated imaging.”

SAS Paintball UK of Codsall Wood, Wolverhampton, and Adrenalin Jungle of Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, kindly allowed the film crew to use their facilities to recreate some of the battle scenes. Other scenes were shot at a Matlock quarry and a built set at the University’s Markeaton Street site in Derby.

The eight minute film took a month to shoot and cost about £1,000 in total to make.

Tom Craig, Senior Lecturer in Film Theory and History at the University, added: “The Halo film is very inventive and more ‘Hollywood’ than anything we’ve seen before from students, with its use of live action and computer-generated effects. I’m sure it will be a big hit with fans of the Halo series as well as a wider audience.”

The Film and Video night at the QUAD centre on June 6 is part of the University of Derby’s free annual Degree Shows programme of events – this year entitled Synthesis – running from Saturday June 4 to 11.

Hundreds of students’ work in crafts, fashion, textiles, fine art, film, design, theatre, visual communications, architecture, music technology, creative expressive therapies and art therapy will be on display for the public to come and see for free at the University’s Markeaton Street and Britannia Mill sites in Derby, and elsewhere.

For further information about the 2011 University of Derby Degree Shows see website