You’ve probably never heard of them, but you’ve seen Hammer Creative’s work. Perhaps you marveled at the launch trailer for Batman: Arkham City in anticipation of its release last fall. Maybe it was a giggle that you just couldn’t stifle watching a crazy man in a mascot cat suit before pre-ordering Saints Row: The Third for the Professor Genki pack. It could have been the chill that went up your spine last week when we shared with you the live action “The Last Sermon” trailer for THQ’s Darksiders II.
We had the chance to speak with Executive Creative Director Scott Hayman and Writer/Creative Director/Producer of “The Last Sermon,” Brett Hocker, to find out how a live trailer for a game comes together. The phenomenon isn’t new, but it is picking up steam. More marquee releases are getting tie-in advertising campaigns that break the digital wall, bringing interactive fantasy worlds into a space we can more easily relate to. I’d often wondered how these (extremely) short films come into existence and jumped at the chance to get some insight.
“We were invited to pitch for the Darksiders II campaign last fall, which included “The Last Sermon” and the CG trailers” Hayman shared. “Brett [Hocker] had written the script, and THQ loved it.”
Of course, from paper to reality, there are a number of details that need to be ironed out.
“Once THQ accepted, we needed to find the right team, the right director and production company and get started on casting and location scouting. THQ was involved every step of the way,” Hayman told RipTen.
The team looked all over Los Angeles for the right place to shoot the segment, but it wasn’t meant to be. After Hammer broadened their search, though, the answer was clear.
Hocker told RipTen, “We wanted something that had the right look and feel. We looked in Moscow, but we found the perfect church in Prague in the Czech Republic. None of it was on a sound stage. The actors’ breath wasn’t special effect. It was that cold.”
The trailer was shot over two days in Prague at the end of December 2011 after three weeks of preproduction, which included casting. The team had an archetype in mind, and a casting agency provided a number of good choices.
“We had narrowed it down to three,” Hayman mentioned. “James Cosmo from HBO’s Game of Thrones was among them. When THQ told us that he was already voicing a character in the game and we could get him, we knew it was perfect.”
By that point Hammer had also locked in The Ebeling Group and director Abdul Abonamous, who brought his own style to bear on Hocker’s script. The end result wasn’t enough, though. It needed to be bigger, grander.
“We were originally going to be done by February,” the pair informed RipTen. “The original script had a simple ending. Instead, we decided with THQ to blow out the ending into the CG sequence you see at the end. We contracted Plastic Wax out of Sydney Australia for the CG and finished in May.”
We inquired about the cost of such an endeavor, curious how much just over two minutes of compelling footage set back the publisher. Hayman and Hocker demured, but the former took the opportunity to quip, chuckling,
“Well, it looks like $1 billion, but didn’t spend that much.”
We agree. It looks pretty damn good and so does Darksiders II. You can check out more of Hammer Creative’s work on their website and prepare for Death’s arrival on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 on August 14, 2012. Check out the behind the scenes look at “The Last Sermon” below.