Sci-fi thriller ‘Skyline’ showcases daytime alien terror: The Brothers Strause

By Robin Bansal, IANS
Sunday, November 14, 2010

NEW DELHI - They are the creative brains behind the breathtaking visuals of “Avatar”, “The X-Files” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. Now, special effects experts and director duo Greg and Colin Strause have challenged stereotypical portrayals of alien invasion in Hollywood with their latest outing “Skyline”.

An epic alien-invasion movie, the premise of “Skyline”, which released worldwide Friday, is mass abduction on a global scale that makes everyone equal.

“While many sci-fi thrillers are set and shot at night to compensate for any issues with the inevitable CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery), it was important for us to showcase the terror during the day. We felt confident with our work on dozens of big-budget films, and that prepared us to pull it off,” Greg, 35, told IANS in an e-mail interview from Los Angeles.

Added his brother Colin, 33: “We combined the scale of an event movie with the action of an invasion film. Having people watch as dozens of mother ships are sucking up millions of people off the face of the Earth… that’s something you have to see during the day. At night time, that wouldn’t look like much. In the daytime, there’s a constant reminder that there’s nowhere else you can go.”

The over $10-million venture has been conceptualised, written, edited, directed and produced by the Brothers Strause, as they are officially credited. Distributed by Reliance Big Pictures in India in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, “Skyline” hit the screens worldwide Friday. The movie stars Eric Balfour, Scottie Thompson, Donald Faison, David Zayas and Brittany Daniel.

The duo is excited about the day and date of the release in India. “It will be great to know the reaction of Indian audiences. We hope they like and appreciate it,” said Greg.

So will “Skyline” have a sequel or two in the future?

“If you see the film it surely leaves the audiences wanting for more… so we may consider it,” said Greg.

Considering the recent surge of 3D filmmaking in Hollywood especially after “Avatar”, “Skyline” concentrates more on special effects.

Asked if it was a deliberate decision to sideline 3D, Colin said: “Every movie has its own script and depending on the same, it has its own unique demands and challenges. We have given ‘Skyline’ the treatment it demands and made it the way it can be showcased the best.”

Having also wielded the megaphone for 2007s “AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator-Requiem”, “Skyline” now looks at establishing the brothers’ rapport as independent filmmakers in Hollywood.

“When we considered making the film, we knew it would only happen if we could craft it in-house and control every aspect of production… We had all these great spaces, and we had these awesome cameras and wondered what we could do to take advantage of that. We then realized Greg had this amazing view of the city and our story quickly became the ‘end of the world’ outside of his window,” said Colin.

Immersed in the world of visual effects since early teens, the Brothers Strause began their career crafting VFX for music videos and commercials and created their firm Hydraulx, as a full-service VFX house. Their journey started rolling after their big break that came after designing a few shots of an iceberg for James Cameron’s “Titanic”.

Their resume now boasts of over 70 films with big names like “The X-Files”, “300″, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” “X-Men: The Last Stand”, “Fast & Furious” and “2012″ apart from music videos for the likes of U2, Britney Spears, Aerosmith, Usher, 50 Cent, Nickelback, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Linkin Park.

The director duo who “would love to visit India” for both leisure and professional reasons are also aware about Bollywood.

“India is very rich in culture, story telling and their music. We have watched ‘Lagaan’ and we enjoyed it. We don’t have an in-depth knowledge about the core of Bollywood but by whatever we know, Bollywood is extremely popular with its work,” said Colin.

The brothers have not shut their VFX shop and are working on outings like “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Battle: Los Angeles” apart from three other effects-driven movies.

(Robin Bansal can be contacted at

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