A Wiscasset native who has earned accolades for his work on special effects in Hollywood blockbusters now hopes to direct a film of his own.
Austin Bonang, 36, of Encino, Calif., plans to start production of a short film, “Pathosis,” in January, and to eventually expand “Pathosis” into a full-length feature. He started work on the script three years ago.
“It’s about the horrors of mental illness and recovery, and (what) one person can go through when they are suffering from that kind of disorder … not just internally, but externally, from society or the people around them who don’t quite understand,” Bonang said.
The psychological horror film features a woman with psychosis. She wakes up in the middle of the night and walks through her dark house. She envisions some kind of creature that begins to stalk her.
Bonang said there is a “double twist” in the film. Viewers will experience the film from the woman’s point of view, he said.
“In this film I’m going to be trying to manipulate the audience’s reality of the story,” he said. “I’m trying to keep people guessing if this is all in her head or is this something she is really experiencing.”
Bonang graduated from Wiscasset High School in 2001. With encouragement from his art teacher, the late Thomas Block, he enrolled in the Savannah School of Art and Design in Georgia.
Bonang earned a degree in computer art. He started out in the movie industry as an intern, doing administrative tasks, and worked his way up.
Fourteen years ago, he started working in visual effects. About 12 years ago, he started working on “previs,” short for previsualization. He said the term refers to the animation of scenes before filming.
Bonang worked at Digital Domain, in Los Angeles, doing stereoscopic conversion, which is converting 2D or “flat” film into 3D form, for Disney’s “Meet the Robinsons.”
He worked at yU+co, in Los Angeles, where he was responsible for animation, rendering, and asset creation, which is building 3D man-made objects, like cars and buildings, as well as people and animals.
In 2007, Bonang took a job at The Third Floor Inc., based in Los Angeles. He currently holds the position of senior visualization supervisor and creative director.
In 2015, he was recognized for Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal/Live Action Motion Media Project at the Visual Effects Society Awards for his work on the movie “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”
According to Bonang’s biography on The Third Floor Inc. website, he has also worked on “Captain America: Civil War” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” among other major films.
He did not always want to be a director, but described directing as something he “slowly started getting a hunger for.”
“The whole point of (‘Pathosis’) is to break into directing and writing features,” Bonang said. “I got to that point in my career where that seemed like a logical next step.”
The along-for-the-ride feeling of “Pathosis” sets it apart from other films, he said.
The title of the film was selected because it is “arcane” but also adds more mystery than naming it after the character’s illness, Bonang said.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines pathosis as “a diseased state” or “an abnormal condition.”
Bonang plans for “Pathosis” to run 10 minutes. Filming will begin at the end of January. He hopes to complete the film by March, in time to enter the Colorado-based Telluride Film Festival.
“That’s a big film festival, so it’s aiming high, but I think we might be able to get in if we finish it on time and get a good sound mix, good special effects,” Bonang said. “I think we’ve got a chance.”
Bonang said he has raised about $5,000 of the $15,000 he needs to make the movie. The funds will pay for actors, equipment rental, food on set, insurance, and post-production work, such as sound and visual effects.
He is using the crowdfunding website Indiegogo to raise the money. If he does not raise enough, he might have to shoot on a reduced budget or shoot the film in stages while he continues fundraising. He is using some of his own money for the project as well.
He and the producers plan to enter the film into at least 20 other film contests across the country.
He is working with producers Vincente DiSianti and Kyle Klein, from Womp Stomp Films, of Los Angeles. The director of photography is Ben Meredith.
Bonang met the lead actress, Luciana Faulhaber, when she worked as a temp at The Third Floor. Actor Drew Leighty worked with Womp Stomp Films on a film that received positive comments at Telluride Film Festival.
In addition to his duties as director and writer, Bonang will previs most of the film and serve as executive producer.
A location for filming has not been confirmed, but Bonang believes it will be less than a half-hour drive from his house. He said family is important to him, so he plans to do the work locally, at night and on the weekends.
For more information about “Pathosis” or to donate, go to indiegogo.com.
“Backers” will receive a previs version of the film to see what was added or changed between previs and the final product.
The short film will eventually be available to view on a streaming website, such as YouTube.