Creating Dark Blood

Dark Blood was the first ever major project that Panuccio Productions was involved with, and remains the largest we've ever undertaken. Originally planned to be a ten minute short, the project grew to be something much larger.


In mid-2002, I finally decided to make that Star Wars fanfilm I always wanted. I discussed this with my brother, and we spoke about all different aspects of the story, scenes, and all parts of the production cycle. The point of all this? Just to prove that we could.


The first thing any film needs is of course, a script. I started writing the script around June/July, and completed the final draft at the end of 2002. The script evolved from a fight scene with a simple story, to a massive story with a few fight scenes, and turned out to be many more pages than I expected. The film was meant to be shot during the Summer of 2002/03, but due to simply not being ready, the film was not shot and due to a busy 2003, the film was not worked on again until the later stages of 2003, during which time a new script was written which omitted a few characters and scenes and also tweaked a few story elements.

Once the script was completed, we created the designs for the lightsabers as well as costumes and location scouting. During this time, I also storyboarded parts of the movie (regrettably not as much as I would have liked). Another regret was leaving the fight choreography late in the pre-production phase, some fights were created the night before the shoot, or even minutes before shooting.

With all characters cast, locations found, script ready, and everything else, it was time to shoot!


Sadly, this is where things started to go wrong. The first few days of shooting were great. We had plenty of time, plenty of footage, we could ask for nothing more. Everything started to go downhill when we shot the 5 on 1 fight scene which was to be a standout scene for the film. We were notified the night before that some people had to leave early that morning, or not show up at all. Long story short, we had to sacrifice almost every alternate angle just so we could get the whole fight shot. We had roughly one hour to shoot a very complex scene and unfortunately the scene suffered because of it. This was the problem that plagued us throughout the rest of principal photography. Too much to shoot, no time to shoot it, and no one involved sharing our vision.

Being the director and the star on a first major project was not a wise decision, and I don't recommend anyone trying the same. It was very difficult to keep track of everything that was happening and as a result, some things just did not work as they should have. Towards the end of production, I was just looking forward to getting away from the camera and saving the film in post-production.


My primary role in post-production was capturing and editing the footage. The main problem areas were caused by simply not having enough footage to work with and being forced to use the single shot that we did have. The scenes that worked the best were the ones where we had time to shoot them, and these were usually the ones that were also storyboarded. All in all, the editing process was difficult work, but it was slowly achieved.

The visual effects of the film was originally allocated to another member of the production crew, who later decided to pretty much stop their involvement in the project, so I had to take control in that department and finish off a lot of effects shots (which ended up being more than half of the effects shots in total). The effects that I was involved with was rotoscoping lightsabers (and fixing up other shots which were less than ideal), creating the special effect used for the antagonist's main weapon, and also creating a glowing, freeze effect. These kinds of visual effects must be the most tedious out there, eating up many hours and days, but thankfully the end product is worth it (at least I can listen to music as I work, unlike those in the sound department).

The Premiere / DVD

The film ended up being completed mere days before it was to be premiered, with some key scenes just being added in at the last possible second. The film was premiered on 11 December 2004, with an audience of around 60 people, much more than that was anticipated. Guests were treated to video montages as they arrived showcasing trailers and featurettes from the film. As the showtime approached, Stephen and I gave short introductions to the film and soon after the lights dimmed and the film was shown for the first time.

The premiere night was the first actual time we had seen the full film all edited together with full sound and effects, and it felt like we were part of the audience too. And what was also surprising was that the audience was silent throughout the entire showing, and they really seemed to be interested in it. After the movie concluded, the reaction from the audience was that of a positive experience, and I must admit, after all the problems we had in making it, it was kind of worth it.

Soon after the premiere, I continued making the DVD (I had already begun towards the latter stages of post-production) for the movie for a Christmas release. I really enjoyed making the DVD, and I think it is probably the best thing that was produced regarding this film. Every crew and cast member was given a DVD for their contribution towards completing this massive project.

Many lessons were learnt during this project. The main ones being never bite off more than you can chew, always correctly prepare for anything you set out to do, and never rely on anyone. Harsh lessons to be learnt, but they had to be learnt somehow. However, this was indeed a learning experience, and I am glad that I started and completed a project of this size. It has taught me many aspects of filmmaking that I always took for granted, and who knows, maybe one day I'll try it again.