Handmade, effect-heavy feature film

Mary sez, "The Diamonds of Metro Valley is a DIY feature film, made almost entirely on green screen, with full scale people and small-scale, hand-made models, sets costumes, props etc. We completed special effects in After Effects shot-by-shot. The plot of DMV is inspired by diamond heist films of the 1970's, but with an added tinge of the retro-futuristic. Some exciting sequences include a twelve inch robot growing to the height of a three story building, numerous gun-battles and explosions, and a thirteen minute car chase created with model cars on a green screen conveyor belt, composited with live action. It's taken us almost 4 years from start to finish, as each scene in DMV has multiple design and digital effects elements, but we think this effectively contributes to the unique look of the project. We expect to be done in a couple months. The site has our trailer, a synopsis and some info on the main characters. "

The Diamonds of Metro Valley (Thanks, Mary!)


  1. Wow – that is the sort of thing I could have done as a 12 year old.

    Had I been born in 2000.

    And made of pure awesome.

  2. It looks absolutely Troma-tastic, from the music down to the guy who can’t blow smoke circles. One of those “Well, it must have been really fun to make” kinds of movies. Good job.

  3. “Handmade” as used in the title of this post is somewhat misleading. The models are handmade. The movie, not so much.

  4. Oh wow, that looks awesome! Respect!

    (btw I can watch the trailer just fine at the DMV/Maron website, but youtube gives me ‘this video is not available in [my] country’. Possibly it’s something to do with the Commodores/Machinegun soundtrack? Anyway, someone might want to look into that…)

  5. Love the look.

    BUT – call me the Grinch, but I don’t understand why people who spend so long making projects like this don’t find some decent actors. Ironically, they can be found for free if you’re prepared to spend enough time casting, and dangle some ‘showreel’ in front of them.

    Sorry – I am the grinch, but it’s ALWAYS what lets these things down…

  6. You’re right… you are the Grinch. Acting is ALWAYS bad, no matter who does it. Ask a director.

    But hey, I love bad acting and bad movies in general. This looks incredible. Maybe not Shark in Venice incredible, but very close, possibly.

    Ten thumbs up for effort, I’m sure the plot will keep me interested enough to see why a 12 inch robot grows to the size of a three story building. No one can stop me from seeing this film.

  7. I’m not a fan of bad acting or bad movies, but I don’t think that’s a problem with a movie like this — it’s all part of the hyper, over the top, cartoonish, Troma esthetic, and it’s perfect for a heist/romp homage like this. And the synopsis looks solid too — these Maron guys are getting a lot of stuff right!

    The poor sound quality though, yeah, that’s not gonna help any. Maron, if you’re reading this, please consider looping the dialog.

  8. This looks like awesome fun.

    And Shark Attack 3 destroys Sharks In Venice. Just had to be said.

  9. Okay, I have to jump in and say this: That looks awful. But I hate special effects for the sake of special effects even when they are done well.

    And having had to hire actors myself, nah, it’s hard to find good ones. There are a lot of them out there, and they aren’t necessarily working, but they also don’t want anywhere near your shit. Even if you find good principals, entire scenes will be destroyed by the terrible extras and bit part actors you end up with. That’s why, if you can get in and don’t suck, you can actually make a pretty solid living as a bit-part actor, hopping from movie to movie. I had a buddy who did it one time, and met that whole subculture of people. He found out what they’d all been in, and we started just renting movies and he’d be like, “Look, there’s Derrick, and there’s Thomas, and…” If you pay attention, the movie universe has a very small population. That guy in Natural Born Killers who says “totally hot” is all over the place (that was one of the guys my friend worked with).

  10. #5: Honestly I think the most common hobgoblin in film is bad writing. From Hollywood on down, great actors/effects or no, if the story doesn’t make any damn sense, it hamstrings the movie. Wooden dialogue, nonsensical actions, uncertainty how to end the movie, these can all crush it – or turn a magnificent film into merely above-average. How many films have you watched where the heroes end up in a literally inescapable situation, only to get saved by some ridiculous Hand of God? Without solid writing as a skeleton, it’s almost impossible to pass a certain threshold of excellence.

    Of course, if you just want to blow shit up, that’s another matter entirely. Just because the ending of Independence Day is ludicrous doesn’t mean I don’t own it. ;)

  11. It seems like a lot of you are missing the point. Handmade, in this case, means made by a small group of artists, not a studio or group of investors looking to capitalize on a big name star or property. This is not the the result of focus groups or marketing research, this is a labor of love. Remember when film used to be an art-form? I’ll bet you don’t, because it hasn’t been for nearly a century. But modern technology has made it possible for fringe artists with a vision to make the film they want without going to the studios, hat in hand, and letting them have the final cut. This is true independent filmmaking, not some “independent” company that’s ultimately owned by Paramount, or Fox. I say Bravo, and keep up the good work!

  12. Am i being snarky or does this have the look/feel/sound of a porn movie with computer graphics– and without the porn?

  13. They had me until ‘Lizard-Man’. Then my suspension of disbelief got up and left the room. In a huff.

  14. “This video is not available in your country or domain.” It’s just a trailer, not a full movie, isn’t it? Why is it region locked?

  15. Hey, those cop’s hair isn’t regulation length! Even for the 70’s. This movie is totally unrealistic!

    It looks fun. Not great, but better than that “Sky Captain” movie. That was painful.

  16. I think it’s actually kind of hard at times to distinguish bad acting from low-budget effects/makeup/lighting/sound…like, if you put some genuinely good actors in exactly the same shots from the trailer, would they manage to make them significantly less cheesy?

  17. Remember when film used to be an art-form? I’ll bet you don’t, because it hasn’t been for nearly a century.

    Oh get off it.

    100 years ago, films were “look at the funny negro dance” and “Italian man eats a lot of spaghetti.” Just because it was black and white doesn’t mean it was any artsier. It was just as base and offensive as it is now.

    What survives is always the more endearing, artistic stuff. This is survivorship bias, plain and simple. The vast majority of “art” at any time in history has been total crap.

    And guess what this cheapo SFX-fest is.

  18. My friend is a green screen master. He made a modern sit city-esque version of Popeye called “The Pop”

    Very similar to this (but better and shorter)

  19. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but four years is a long time to spend on something that has terrible acting, terrible visual effects and the real low-budget giveaway, terrible sound.

    In general I love low-budget aesthetics as much as the next guy, but there is a world of difference between it’s-so-crap-it’s-good and it’s-so-crap-it’s-crap and this film teeters perilously close to the latter category.

    HOWEVER, my personal and subjective gripes aside, I really have to applaud anyone who takes the time and effort to produce something like this. It’s clearly a real labour of love, and I hope that the participants have learned a great deal about moviemaking and go on to make better films.

  20. This effort would have been 3000% better if they put some money into a decent soundtrack. Could have gone for the Sin City angle. The music totally detracts from it.

  21. – 90% of everything is crap –
    Theodore Sturgeon

    When it comes to film, the 3 most significant factors are:

    When all 3 are good-to-great, it wins awards.

    When you lose two of these, you get mocked ambition a-la MST3K!

    When you lose only one, the analysis (of the failure) gets much more interesting!

    If the writing fails, you get Rocky Horror type amusement — wait, who’s that guy? And why did he –?

    If direction fails, you feel discordant — why does she seem happy her fiance is dead? why does he think that prank is so tragic? or worse, what’s with everyone acting like talking trees?

    If acting fails, you want the text version.

  22. “Not available in your country”. Again. Fuck, when are people going to learn that THERE ARE NO COUNTRIES ON THE INTERNET!

  23. when are people going to learn that THERE ARE NO COUNTRIES ON THE INTERNET!

    it’s a series of tubes!!!!!

  24. Let’s see. A video with cheap special effects looks like a video with… cheap special effects. This is news why?

  25. Why is this news? Are you serious? If you hadn’t noticed, DIY efforts are commonplace on BoingBoing, and this is a prime example of why. I assume these people have full time jobs and are doing this all on their own dime, in their spare time. Christ, these snarky comlaints are like bitching that Hank Williams Sr. sucks because Rick Ruben didn’t produce his music.

  26. [“100 years ago, films were “look at the funny negro dance” and “Italian man eats a lot of spaghetti.” Just because it was black and white doesn’t mean it was any artsier”]

    Is that really all you got out of Metropolis? “Italian man eats a lot of spaghetti?” My point was that it was a new form then, so there was more room to experiment without inevitably being compared to “Sin City”or “X-men”. Mainstream film has been so watered down for so long now that people have no problem looking at a typical studio film that cost millions of dollars and represents thousands of man-hours of labor and think “waste of time”.

    Granted, Metropolis was only eighty years ago, so you got me there, but I’m just trying to suggest that real innovation starts with the individual, not with focus groups or marketing departments.

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