The Matrix Paintball

4 minutes. Filmed 2003 on mini-DV.

Cast & Crew
"The One"   Jon Watering
"The Agent"   Chris Harding
voice of The One   Chris Cowan
marker sound recordings   Gary Brooks
location scout   John Stammers
computer graphical imagery   Matt Watering & Arif Majothi
score   Claire Freeman
shot, blocked & chopped by   Matt Watering


The Production

A strong element of the Invaders feature film project are the numerous action set pieces. Almost all of these action scenes feature some form of gun play, and I'd never directed a gun fight. We decided to shoot a small gun fight sequence that would cost very little money; not only would it prove invaluable experience later with Invaders, it would make a nice final segment to our show reel.

Living in the UK ruled out blank firing guns and squibs, as the costs involved were too great. Being a paintball player, the idea hit me to use paintball guns instead! Discussions on a forum evolved the original "realistic" gun battle idea into a paintball game set inside the universe of The Matrix films. An established film universe gives the audience an immediate point of connection, and they know that world's workings. Besides, there was just something about paintballing in The Matrix that appealed to me! Draxxus Paintballs generously supplied us the equipment, and a local farmer let us use a field.

On the day we were let down by two crew members so we finished up with only my brother and a friend as the "actors", and myself. Setting up the inflatable paintball field took a lot longer than expected and we lost about 4 hours doing that, and then we had to build the blue screen. We quickly and efficiently moved from one setup to the next, using the storyboards where appropriate and coming up with a lot of stuff on the spot. Chris soon got bruised from being repeatedly shot, despite wearing two armoured vests under his shirt, so we taped a newspaper round his body! He didn't feel a thing until the final shot when Fred "accidentally" shot him in the ear! Shooting was completed in one day. We used a Canon XL-1 mini-DV camera and the total budget was under £50.


Post Production

Editing The Matrix Paintball was initially very difficult. I was about half way through the main action sequence but I couldn't get the tempo, the "beat" that reveals itself in the editing process. When we shot the film, I had a specific song playing in my head, and I shot to that beat. Putting that song in as a temp track, the film immediately came to life. After this the editing was a very fluid process, with only one or two places that required excessive tinkering. Throughout the process the film got shorter and shorter, down from 7 to 6 minutes, until finally resting at 4 minutes, as excess was trimmed from the action sequence until there wasn't an ounce of fat left. It's cut to within an inch of it's life!

Claire Freeman composed her original score using the temp track for tempo - I didn't want to limit her creatively but without the temp track the editing would never have worked as well as it does. Claire's track matches the action better than the temp track, hitting all the right marks.

There is a lot of computer graphic imagery in The Matrix Paintball. An idea that simply needed muzzle flashes soon transformed into a much larger monster once inside the Matrix Universe. Unfortunately Arif fell very ill during post production and couldn't carry on with the work. I have some graphical experience from the video games industry, so borrowing whatever equipment I could I had to replicate some of Arif's effects, and also learn how to do many of the other effects. Of the 150 or so cuts in the short film, over half have at least 1 CG element in them!


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