An animated short film set in ancient Greece. It’s the story of an Athenian boy living in the shadow of his father’s exploits, with the threat of a second Persian invasion looming over Greece.

In the vast and sun-drenched land of ancient Greece, where tales of valor and glory echoed through the ages, a poignant story unfolds. In a time when the memories of the legendary Battle of Marathon still lingered in the hearts of the Athenian people, a young boy finds himself navigating the labyrinth of his own destiny. Titled “Heroes of Bronze – The Memory,” this captivating animated short film transports us back to an era of immense courage and impending peril, where a father’s heroic legacy casts a formidable shadow upon his son’s path. As the specter of a second Persian invasion hangs ominously over Greece, this one-man passion project brings history to life, seamlessly blending meticulous historical accuracy with a gripping narrative. Embark on a timeless journey, as the resolute spirit of a young Athenian boy unfolds against the backdrop of a nation yearning for its heroes. We had the chance to ask director Martin Klekner a few questions about the ambitious project:

What inspired you to create an animated short film set in ancient Greece?

The love for ancient Greece was there ever since I was a child, I grew up reading about the ancient myths, and also the story of Troy. Later, I loved playing games like Rome: Total War – that one inspired me a lot. The actual idea for making the Heroes of Bronze project came after reading The Long War series from Christian Cameron and the Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. I simply needed to see those hoplites in action, and if it meant doing it myself, then so be it 🙂

How did you approach the challenge of balancing historical accuracy with storytelling and engaging visuals?

In 2018 I made a 3D scene with a little boy, who’s observing the armor of his dead father. That’s when the story idea was born. Immediately, more and more ideas for cool shots were popping into my head, moments from the life of the father, and how his son imagined it. What I needed was a story to connect it all together, and research, to make it all look historically accurate. That’s what I was working on throughout the first few years of the pre-production – learning a lot about ancient Greece, and tying it together with the growing story.

Still from Heroes of Bronze: The Memory

Could you share a bit about the creative process you went through to bring this project to life?

I’ve worked on it for 4 years and in that time, the shortfilm went through several stages. The first year was mainly about gathering research and figuring out some 3d workflows that I wasn’t sure about, like character animation and landscape creation. The next two years were about building all the models I needed for the project, which basically meant creating the whole world you see in the film. I worked mostly in free software Blender, but I also used products like Substance, Marvelous Designer, Reallusion tools and more. Constantly, I was improving my animation pipeline, trying to figure out how to animate so many characters on my own. The final year was all about lighting the shots, finessing those animations and rendering everything out into the final result. I made a lot of behind the scenes and breakdown videos, which you can see on my channel. Also, on my Youtube, you’ll find tutorials, if you’re interested in making something like this too.

Were there any particular challenges or obstacles you faced during the four years it took to make ’Heroes of Bronze: The Memory’ ?

The burnout was always a real threat, especially at the end of the project. I was able to overcome the difficulties only because I love the topic of ancient Greece so much, and I couldn’t stop working on it. Also, I really tried to work on the project at least a little bit every day, to never stop the momentum. Then, there were technical difficulties. I never had enough computing power and memory to stuff everything I wanted to show into my 3D scenes. I didn’t know enough about character animation, dynamic simulations, making 3D cloth, etc, to make the result look really top notch. I had to aim at making the final shots look good enough to achieve my vision, while not really striving to make them perfect. Otherwise, I’d never finish the thing 🙂

How did you research and gather information about the period of Greco-Persian wars to ensure

authenticity in your portrayal of events?

I have started by reading probably all the fiction there is on the topic, but then, I transitioned to non-fiction titles, such as Lords of the Sea by John R. Hale, The Rise of Athens by Anthony Everitt, Persian Fire by Tom Holland and The Life of Greece by Will Durant. Reading sources like these, listening to podcasts on the topic (The Ancients, Hardcore History), reading magazines like Ancient Warfare… yeah, I pretty much submerged myself in information on the topic, studying everything I could, that was connected to the shots I wanted to create for my shortfilm. Since then, this research has become my hobby, so for my future productions, I would love to achieve even higher levels of accuracy.

How did you manage to create a one-man project over the span of four years while working on it only in your spare time?

As mentioned, my love for the topic carried me through. Also, setting some strict rules helped, so that I was able to do at least a little bit of work everyday. My personal life sometimes had to step aside, though. That being said, working alone on a project such as this is definitely not ideal, and I would not recommend it. For my future projects, I would like to gather a small team.

Are there any plans to continue this story or create additional films set in ancient Greece?

Oh yes, there will be more. I already have several ideas in mind, all tying to the overall story I created for Heroes of Bronze The Memory shortfilm. I would love to show more of the characters I featured there, both from the Greek and the Persian side of the conflict. Can’t really give any definitive details just yet, but you can follow me at instagram @mklekner or subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest news. Also, any support at will definitely help the project.

What advice would you give to aspiring animators and filmmakers looking to create their own passion projects?

Pick a topic you absolutely love, and then work on it diligently, if possible, setting up your life around it. Having a finished work in your hand is really worth it.

Which films you can say directly inspired this film?

My inspirations are all over the place, from movies, to books, paintings, and shortfilms. Of course, I love the epic scale Ridley Scott can achieve in his historical films, Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven for example. Zack Snyder’s 300 was of course among the initial inspiration sources, but my motivation was to show more of a realistic version of the era. The Lord of the Rings is a pinnacle of cinematography for me, so I drew a lot of inspiration from there. And though I am not a fan of the movie itself, I think Alexander by Oliver Stone was great when it comes to costumes, locations and evoking the feel of ancient times.
There were two artists who inspired me the most. First, the great Angus McBride and his historical paintings of hoplites. Second, Joan Francesc Oliveras, who conducts rigorous research and recreates ancient people of all sorts on his Instagram.

What are your favorite short films?

Oh, there are so many, and I’m sure I would forget to mention many of them if I was to start making a list. So I’ll mention just one – Sintel by Blender Foundation remains my favorite short film, combining great visuals (for a small-team project from 2010) and beautiful, heartbreaking story.