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July 22nd, 2015

The Mill teamed up with Director Maja Fernqvist and Good Story Films on Consumed, one of seven short films exploring the origin stories of characters for The Storytellers: New Voices of The Twilight Saga competition. Motivated by the desire to provide new female voices with an opportunity to be heard, Twilight creator Stephenie Meyer, Lionsgate and Women In Film launched the initiative to support emerging female filmmakers through the opportunity to help build onto the franchise’s dynamic fantasy storyworld. 

The multiphase contest was hosted on crowdsourcing platform Tongal, allowing fans to vote for the characters while a powerful all-female panel of Hollywood talent selected the screenplays and filmmakers from the 1,300 scripts submitted and 150 directors' pitches. The seven final films premiered on the Twilight Facebook page last week. Fans can help select the winner of the grand prize by voting on Tongal. (We recommend voting for Consumed! Watch the full film on Facebook.)

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A team of Mill artists across editing, VFX and colour worked closely with Maja to bring her vision of Jane's story to life. It was important to stay true to the look and feel of the original movie series, while also allowing for creative freedom so that the new story to be told. 

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Above: Mill Producer Clairellen Wallin and CG Supervisor Emily Bloom on the Consumed set.

When not wrangling butterflies on the film’s Sleepy Hollow set, Mill VFX artists worked to enhance the fantastic elements of the film, including adding in CG butterflies, enhancing the burning scene, transforming Jane’s eyes, and of course, adding the mandatory Vampire sparkle effect to Aro’s skin. While it was shot over the course of a sunny day, the final film needed a dark and moody look to complement the story. Using a muted yet dreamy palette, Mill colourist Aline Sinquin created an atmospheric and filmic look that matched the film's tone. Find out more here.

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We asked Maja to tell us more about her process creating the film and how she was selected for the unique and exciting opportunity:

How did you hear about the contest and what about it made you decide to participate?

Somebody mentioned the Tongal site to me and while I was checking it out, I came across The Storytellers project. It immediately caught my interest since I liked the fact that the initiative was taken to support female filmmakers. I thought it was a cool way to bring back beloved characters with a different twist and we were given a lot of freedom creatively.
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Why did you select the Consumed screenplay out of all the final scripts? How did you modify the script to for the film?

I thought Consumed was the most epic script and it immediately came to life in my mind because the story really spoke to me. I liked the fact that I would be able to play with parts of the story with interesting visual approaches and tell this brutal story in a visually beautiful way. 

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It was important to me to hint early on that something was a bit different with Jane and share some of her dark side. That’s why I added the butterfly scene at the very beginning. I also decided to cut out a two-page scene with Jane and Mother going home after the bully attack. There was supposed to be a father involved as well, but I cut him out because I felt that the family would be even more vulnerable without a brave father protecting them. I also cut out some dialogue from the original script and changed the order of a few things. 

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What about your pitch do you believe stood out for the judges? How did the final film change from your initial vision?

I submitted a quite ambitious, detailed and visually creative treatment. I think I proposed a pretty original perspective and a different way to bring the script to life. Because of the budget constraints, my team and I had to find clever ways to solve all the challenges we came across. A few things had to be rethought like “the village” scene. It was originally supposed to be more of a “village” but ended up being more of a farmland setting. I also lost a few crane shots, but all in all, we managed to get most of it in there.

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The vision you proposed for the script was to push it “towards a more real and raw place” and make it a story that the “audience can relate to, be moved by and feel strongly for.” How did you go about achieving this for the final film?

Well, I think most of it was achieved by the performances. My cast was amazing and they brought so much to the characters and the emotions of the scenes. All the little details in the production helped with achieving this as well, the authenticity in the details such as the corpse of a deer, scars on the villagers faces, yellow teeth and dirt/grease in the make-up, etc. As a viewer, you need to feel that you are there and it have to be believable, otherwise it won’t be emotional.

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How did you decide on the visual approach to the more violent sequences depicting Jane being attacked and then burned at the stake?

I wanted to visually experiment with these sequences. I felt that I had some artistic freedom here. I liked the idea of telling the violence from Jane’s POV in a quite beautiful way. I also thought it was nice to leave parts of it a bit unclear and vague. What did she actually do to the boys? Did she kill them?

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How did the film series influence how you approached the film?

I wanted to make my own take on the characters, but of course within the frames of the Twilight universe. My intention was never to try to make a look-alike type of film. In the books and in the Consumed script, Jane is 13 years old and has dark hair and blue eyes. In the film series however, Jane is played by a blond Dakota Fanning and is a lot older than 13. So when I was casting my Jane, I knew that she would be a very different Jane than she is in the film series and I was a bit worried about the potential disconnect.

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What aspect of the film are you most proud of as a filmmaker? What do you plan to do next in your career? 

I think I’m mostly proud of even being able to pull it all together with such a small budget and so short amount of time, ha! And this could never have been possible without so many wonderful, passionate and talented people such as you guys at The Mill!!! I cannot thank you guys enough for all your fantastic work! You guys are the best!!! After the summer, I will hopefully direct a few interesting commercials and keep working on my feature pitch.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite film on Tongal

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