For years the website Penny Arcade has delivered commentary on video games and the gaming culture through their web comics and videos, and scattered throughout have been their own original comics. Those original narratives have gained traction within their fanbase. San Francisco production company RedGate Films count themselves as a part of that fanbase.
In June 2009, Penny Arcade masterminds writer Jerry Holkins and illustrator Mike Krahulik released a single page six panel comic titled ‘Lookouts: May We Die In The Forest.’ It was the beginnings of a larger story — a group of young Lookouts, a Boy Scout-like group lead by a patch-eyed man, set out to hunt for a beast, the unseen Basilisk.
Inspired by the comic of Holkins and Krahulik, RedGate Films set out to make ‘Lookouts‘ a reality. The duo of producer Kristin Bousquet and writer / director David Bousquet treated the production of the short film the same they would treat any of their production work for Nike, BMW, or Samsung — with a full-fledged ‘all-or-nothing’ philosophy.
Shot in heavily wooded Northern California, ‘Lookouts‘ has a staggering level of realism. RedGate looked to practical effects first, crafting a working Basilisk that would be at home next to the finest of Jim Henson’s creature work. Villages were built, costumes crafted from hammered steel and leather. The blending of the digital and the practical is seamless, beyond what one expects from modern television, let alone a short film based on a web comic.
The story itself is filled out from the panels of that first Penny Arcade page, developing the characters and the world — heightening the threat of the Basilisk from vile chicken to ever-present demon. With only twelve minutes to work with, the ‘Lookouts‘ is compact and visceral. Instead of wasting time telling the audience the story, RedGate goes for the gut and makes you feel it.