Is the Director of the Short Film “Panic Attack!” the Next Neill Blomkamp?


Just two weeks after his short film Panic Attack! hit YouTube, everyone in Hollywood now wants a piece of Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez. The four-minute short was reportedly shot for just $300 and features robots and UFOs wreaking havoc on a city. I have to admit, it’s pretty impressive stuff, and the comparisons to Neill Blomkamp may be warranted even if it doesn’t have quite the same gritty realism or the social commentary to accompany it. (On the other hand, maybe he’ll just turn out to be the next Kerry Conran.)

In general, I think it’s pretty cool that an innovative short film can get a director noticed nowadays, although it could be bad if too many studios start blindly throwing feature-length movies at inexperienced filmmakers just based solely on a few YouTube clips. We can’t forget that Peter Jackson certainly helped guide District 9 in the right direction and served as a mentor for Blomkamp. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what lies ahead for Alvarez. Check out his short film after the jump and see what all the fuss is about.

Update: Alvarez has signed with Sam Raimi’s production company for his feature film debut.

  • Brendan

    It’s kind of cool as an effects piece, but I don’t think means the guy would be a good feature film director. For my tastes, there’s too much jump cutting and shakey-cam. I know a lot of Hollywood directors use those techniques, particularly in effects-based action films, but I don’t happen to think that’s good directing.

  • Niklas

    I agree with the guy above

  • Mike

    wow…$300!! That’s impressive

  • Nate

    It looked awesome for $300 and ending was especially cool, but Blomkamp’s shorts are much more impressive to me.

  • Justy Rames

    Yeah, I agree. It’s cool and everything but it doesn’t have the distinctive voice that Alive In Joberg had. It just looks like the trailer to an action movie.

  • Jackson

    I can’t possibly believe this was shot for $300. What was $300 spent on? How much did the camera cost? How much did the software for the CGI cost?
    I can believe you can do everything guerilla style, without permits or paying extras but still. If it cost 20,000 to make the Blair Witch project with a hi 8 camera how did this cost $300? $300, 000 maybe.

  • It’s also important to note that the $300 doesn’t include what was likely hours and hours and hours of time spent, unpaid, working on this project.

  • Nicolas Lacosta

    I have to say as a fellow Uruguayan this thing has blown everybody minds since it came up online. For someone from a country like our to be noticed like this is not only remarkable but most times impossible. There’s a lot of movies and shorts that come out every year and there’s always a prize for them in the international film festivals but never much distribution on the States, that what makes this short so spectacular for our Country in general.
    I know he’s not Blomkamp but to do something like that here, is really amazing and to be recognized like this it’s a lifetime experience.
    Not just for him but to everyone that loves Uruguayan productions , call it movies or shorts.
    Oh by the way…the last building that get’s destroyed….I live there hahahahhaha.

  • Jackson

    Good point Jay. They say this cost $300 but how much unpaid work went into this? Apparently all of it was unpaid, except for a camera rental or something.

  • Bob The Slob

    “The digital revolution hasn’t changed anything”…How about a little bit of perspective…this youtube video cost $300 to make essentially with an HD camera and a guys basement…in the 70’s, even with a studio backing it with infinite resources and all the money in the world, you couldn’t accomplish the level of effects seen here if you wanted to. I’m not saying it’s good or bad…it’s just something to think about.

  • aspioaokassodsøkasdkøl

    The effects for 300$ looked impressive. But that’s just that. It didn’t exactly feel like it was done with talent in any other kind of way…

  • I’m not a fan of shakey cam or rapid editing myself, but I thought this short utilized both techniques very effectively. I thought the short showed inventiveness in its depiction of an invasion with its destructive effects. The cinematography was awesome. I liked the use of the child at the beginning and subsequent shots like seeing the destruction with the swing set in the foreground. I thought having the robots transform into a building was a neat idea.

    I think someone should gamble $9000 on Fede Alvarez to make a two hour film. Ha ha.

  • KeithTalent

    Pretty cool little film, but I don’t think I would have liked it half as much as I did if he hadn’t used the awesome 28 Week Later music. Such awesome music, totally helps build the tension and atmosphere.

  • Good point. That song rules.

  • Guys, guys… This is actually a music video for a Uruguayan band called Snake… for its tune called “Ataque de Pánico”.

    So if you check it out, you’ll see the lyrics give the seemingly straight forward action, a subliminal meaning… ie… the invasion theme is a metaphor for life that leaves you with trapped without escape or opportunities (as the hard core rocker rants in Spanish). This is a common theme in Latin America, but this time with a new twist. Neil’s exceptional flick deals with a common thing is South Africa. What’s cool is that for a change, aliens are getting to know other parts of the planet. It was about time.

    Yes, it’s true that Fede also made a short film out of his extraordinary footage. Btw, Alvarez works professionally making commercials, he’s not exactly an amateur that struck it.

  • Oh, and I almost forgot. Word has it after they’re done with Montevideo, aliens are going over to Buenos Aires. For more on that, Google “Eternauta”. L8R filmjunk. Tks for posting the piece on Mr. Alvarez.

  • Chris

    Very awesome short to showcase VFX, but I still think Blomkamp’s shorts are significantly better. There’s just something unique, gritty, and realistic about Blomkamp’s shorts (and his VFX in his ‘Tempbot’ and ‘Halo: Landfall’ shorts definitely rival the effects in this short). However, it is very impressive no doubt, and I absolutely LOVE the fantastic guerilla-cam work, it was done brilliantly, and hopefully we’ll see more of this guy’s work in the near future.

  • Nico

    This is a note for El País, an uruguayan newspaper. Enter and read it.

  • Thank you Nico, I just read the article from EL PAIS. For those who don’t read Spanish, the news is: Fede has just signed on with Sam Raimi’s (Spiderman) in Hollywood to direct a sci-fi film that will be produced by Raimi’s company. Very cool!

  • Via Babelfish translation:

    “From Los Angeles, yesterday in the evening Federico Alvarez, of 30 years, confirmed to the Country that in a year will film in Montevideo and Buenos Aires a science film fiction among 30 and 40 million dollars.

    This Tuesday signed a contract with the producing company of Sam Raimi (director of the man spider, Arrástrame to Diabolic hell and, between many others) to develop with total freedom a film. The budget that they gave him is between the thirty and forty million dollars. They even offered to him more, but it solved to stay within those numbers since by other people’s advice it knew that the more money receives a director from those numbers, has the less creative control.”

  • Brian

    Every now and then one of these guys comes along and blows everyone away with an effects reel, goes on to get a feature deal as a director/writer and the film tanks. Hollywood now thinks filmmaking is being a good effects guy.

    These guys were the talk of Hollywood in 2000 because of there short. Bad acting, no story, good effects equals a directing deal:

    Can we stop pretending that good effects guys are good directors?

  • matthew

    300 dollars? trouble believeing that however it looks like him and one or two other people handled most of the work but my guess is he would have had to get everyone to donate all their time including some sort of post facility…but then again you can probably do most of that on a mac these days…but let’s see how he does with and english speaking prima donna cast…

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