There’s something really cool brewing over at Oats Studios, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, let’s fix that right now. So, what is Oats? On the surface it’s hours of free, high-quality entertainment made by passionate people with complete creative freedom. Below the surface, however, there is quite a bit more.
Neill Blomkamp, the mind behind “District 9,” “Elysium,” and “Chappie,” created Oats as a sort of sandbox approach to filmmaking. The idea is to have a shotgun blast of ideas that can be put out and seen without any interference from someone (or something) that might alter the course based on profit projections. I see the Oats concept as throwing seeds into a field and seeing what grows. They put out a variety of short films, then listen to feedback, and adapt to what works. Once their ideas are out, they encourage the audience to start making their own things with it. It’s a complete collaboration between artists and the audience that results in a badass cycle of creation.
Having a dialogue with the audience is a big part of the process here. On top of wanting to hear what you have to say, they also want you to join in. During his Reddit AMA, Blomkamp said, “A better way to think of what Oats is trying to do is this: Instead of locking up our ideas and films and threatening people online who make short films based on our stuff, we want to do the opposite. If we owned Spiderman, we would make all the assets to do with Spiderman available so the online community who is interested could do whatever they want. Make films, do animation, use the score to remix their score, make collectibles, make t-shirts—whatever they are inspired to do.”
That. Is. Awesome.
If you are an aspiring composer, imagine being able to legally get ahold of the master track of a cool score and arrange it however you want. Say you are a game developer and think an Oats short would make a kick ass video game, or perhaps a writer that would like to continue a character’s story, well, you are free to do so with any Oats Studio content. You want to commercialize your idea? Shoot them a message, and they’ll work with you. Blomkamp said it himself, “Every single thing we have made is up for free usage by artists, for the sake of art, and anything we have made is up for licensing by anyone who has a commercial idea.” They genuinely want to see what fans will dream up with the content they provide.
Now, you can join in on the collaboration anytime, but if you simply just want to watch some cool stuff, they’ve got you covered there too. The shorts can range from a couple minutes to about half an hour, and you can watch them however you like. I recommend making a playlist and peppering the shorter films as palette cleansers between the longer ones. It makes for a unique “movie night.” They also work really well for a quick escape on lunch breaks at work.
Here are a few to get started with:
ZYGOTE: A terrifying (and awesomely original) creature hunts two remaining survivors in an Arctic mining facility. Dakota Fanning stars.
FIREBASE: A soldier tracks a mysterious demon-like being known as the “River God” through the Vietnam War.
RAKKA: A reptilian alien species has taken over Earth and an underground resistance begins to fight back. Sigourney Weaver leads the charge.
GOD: SERENGETI: Sharlto Copley plays God. Enough said.
As you can probably tell, I am pretty excited about Oats Studios. Not only are they making some really fun movies, they are also taking a lot of risks while having a lot of fun, and that is refreshing to see. If this model catches on, it has a lot of potential to reinvent how some things are done in the industry. I have a lot of respect for Neill Blomkamp and will always be eager to see what he puts out next. Luckily, Oats Studios is his best creation yet, and we get to see more of his ideas in a shorter time span. All of the content right now is a part of Volume 1, and if you want to see Volume 2, you can help fund it by purchasing downloadable content (DLC) through Steam. Check it all out for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments below!