Filmmaking: <I>The Last Prophecy</I>
Issue: November/December 2020

Filmmaking: The Last Prophecy

Through this striking new short film, The Last Prophecy, director Romain Demongeot imagines the after world and examines the role of religion in the future of our planet. Demongeot is executive creative director in advertising and production, and leads the London-based agency Unit9. After gaining attention with his first two short films Love 2062, a science fiction dystopia around pollution, and Krokodil Requiem, raising awareness of hard drugs, he returns to screens with genre-breaking trailer The Last Prophecy. At a time of worldwide ecological, health, economic, political and identity crisis, he presents a futuristic world, to escape a dying Earth, and interrogates the role of mankind, love and religion. 

"To find new solutions, we must look at the world’s troubled history with a fresh pair of eyes, free from prejudice,” says the filmmaker.

The trailer introduces Demongeot's soon-to-be feature, setting the action in a faraway future, where religious authorities have finally decided to hand over control to a neutral, history-free Artificial intelligence. This admission of failure from the three monotheistic religions allows what’s left of humanity to escape the dying Earth for an interplanetary journey. But upon discovering that humans are able to love without boundaries and overcome dogmatic beliefs, the AI decides to put religions and their principles in perspective, before destroying itself. One question remains: Can humans live without icons and gods?

Demongeot set up an international team to produce the short film. He was supported for the hard core of conception by Elvire Cheret (creative lead at UNIT9) for music and style, by Sonia Presne (Love 2062, Krokodil Requiem) for the art direction, and by Sebastien Novac for the script, as well as technicians and graphic designers all over the world. 

"The idea was to bring together creative people all around the globe with very different beliefs and cultures (Korea, Brazil, Russia, England, Bulgaria, etc... ),” he explains. “The Last Prophecy thus boasts a stylistic rigor born from the collaboration of artists that only ever met virtually, working together to bring to life a common vision. Supplementing the visual production is a 3D sound, specially designed for people listening through headphones as they watch the film online. The story tackles themes of the end of life on Earth, as well as what it might be like in an ‘after’, which will one day be regarded in history as a necessary step in our human and collective evolution.”

According to Demongeot, the main issue the team faced was the budget. 

“We wrote the long feature in 2012, just after we finished Love 2062 (the prequel of the film ),” he explains. “We knew nothing about full CGI films, as my background was drawing and advertising. After talking to a lot of film producers, we realized the budget would be insane, and shortened it to 15 minutes in 2013. But even then, it was still over $500K...I couldn't let the project go, but at the time, VFX was expensive and you had to work with big companies to get something good. I decided to learn the 3D process, and gathered a co-director and 3D artists to work on an easier short movie I wrote, Krokodil Requiem. I learned the hard way to work on one on one with artists I found in various schools and companies in France. It was mainly green screen, matte painting and motion graphics, but I worked with four 3D artists and a very small VFX company. The overall workflow has been really painful, as I had to learn the basics of EverySoft, as well as how to pay a guy, and put pressure when he is not motivated enough.”

Demongeot later tapped the talent he found on Instagram and posted collaborative 3D scenes. He saw the increasing popularity of Maxon’s Cinema 4D and started learning it.

“I decided to give it a try, and to write and release The Last Prophecy trailer. I had to find many different profiles and skillsets, and started digging deep into Insta profiles for weeks. Motion designers groups, CD4 enthusiasts, a lot of # and searches, and wrote to more than 200 people through Insta DM. I explained the vision and the project, and asked if some of them were willing to participate, and create a shot or two for the film. At the end, I involved something like 20 artists for the visuals (3D, matte painting, keying, integration), in very different countries and timezones. Zbrush specialists for the snake in Brazil; Houdini specialist for the rockets in Korea; C4D specialists in Bulgaria for the some overall scenes; 3DS Max people in Russia for the robot; clothes simulation people in Spain. The only piece I did in France is the ship, with some friends at MPC creative, as it was a very complicated piece. We needed the pipeline, power, and render farms of a big company to bring it to life.”