An astronaut encounters a terrifying anomaly approaching the International Space Station.

If you haven’t heard Unreal Engine Technology before, you’ve certainly heard of The Mandalorian, and its impressive groundbreaking filmmaking technology. ‘Decommissioned’ uses the same concept and brings it to a short film format – the possibilities are endless, and much cheaper. Director Josh Tanner which already has a series of terrorizing shorts featured on Film Shortage (Wandering Soul, Reverse and The Landing), takes us onboard the International Space Station where a terrifying encounter takes place.

The story for Decommissioned was born

Decommissioned came around when my co-writer Jade van der Lei and I stumbled upon the Suitsat Experiment which happened in 2006. The inhabitants of the International Space Station had to decommission a Space Suit and instead of simply discarding it out of the airlock to be burned up on re-entry, they turned it into a satellite which would orbit around the earth transmitting voices to earth via shortwave radio for a couple of weeks before its orbit decayed. We were immediately creeped out and asked how even more terrifying it would be if it came back to them after it was said to be burned up. Out of that ‘what if’ question, the story for Decommissioned was born.

Behind The Scenes of Decommissioned

“We knew exactly what UE tech had done for The Mandalorian”

We wrote the script in 2017 and it sat in the drawer, so to speak, for three years as we felt it was too ambitious (expensive) to make through the traditional VFX pipeline. Then mid last year we had an opportunity to submit a project to a short film initiative using the Unreal Engine software, supported by Epic Games and Screen Queensland. Diehard Star Wars fans, we knew exactly what UE tech had done for The Mandalorian, and felt we had found an incredible opportunity to realize the short script we never thought we’d be able to make… during the year of a worldwide pandemic no less.

While we didn’t have access to a LED Volume like Mandalorian used, we made do with the old faithful rear projection method – piping the UE vision through a 4K projector. It gave us everything we needed to be rid of the green screen and shoot a great deal of our visual effects in-camera to meld into with Matt Putland’s amazing ISS Cupola set.

Behind The Scenes of Decommissioned

It’s quite incredible that this technology has made its way to short filmmaking. This only opens the doors even wider for high quality content by independent filmmakers. Decommissioned is only the beginning, and we can’t wait to see what these creatives bring us next.