Filmmakers Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma Spent Three Years Making Their Crowdfunded Indie Short; Realized with Support from Chaos Group’s Partners in Art Program
Indie filmmakers are frequently forced to use anything and everything they can get their hands on in order to realize their vision, but artist couple Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma have taken that concept further than most. Relying on VFX skills the duo earned through years of working on big budget Hollywood films, the pair turned their home into a movie set. Three years later, the result is The Ningyo, an award-winning short film that has attracted the attention of some of Hollywood’s biggest players.
Set in 1911, The Ningyo follows a professor who specializes in “cryptozoology,” the search for mythological creatures. The title stems from a Japanese myth about a fish-like creature known as the ningyo that can curse a person with immortality. When a map leading to one is discovered, it sets off a globe-spanning hunt that takes our protagonist from his university office to a secret cryptozoo and the bottom of the sea.
The 27-minute film may take audiences on an incredible voyage, but behind-the-scenes the production was surprisingly humble. Where practical photography was possible, they used it. Everything else was created in 3D using industry-standard software like Maya, Nuke and V-Ray.