Portal: No Escape
|This article is non-canon.|
The subject matter of this article does not take place in the "real" Half-Life and Portal universe and is considered non-canon.
|Portal: No Escape|
|Story / Screenplay|
August 23, 2011
A woman, played by Danielle Rayne, and named Alex, as seen in the storyboard, wakes up in a room with no memory of who she is or how she got there. She notices something on the back of her neck. Using a piece of a mirror she has just broke, the woman discovers that it is a bar code. Seemingly concerned, she also spots mysterious tally marks drawn on a wall. Alex spends the following hours, or even days, decoding the graph in her mind, exercising, and eating food provided by the guards, while being observed by a security camera. Soon, she discovers the meaning of the scribblings, and finds a Portal Gun hidden behind a wall panel. Alex learns how to use the device, and when an officer comes to intervene, she drops her bed on him, and escapes. She manages to run away from the chasers, finding herself on a roof of a building, in an industrial area, and uses the flinging technique to jump to another building. While walking away from the officers, the woman realizes that she is in fact surrounded by giant screens that give an illusion of an open world.
At the beginning of his career, Dan Trachtenberg used to direct commercials for various companies, such as Lexus, Nike, or Coca Cola.
When asked by Ben Fritz of Hero Complex about the reason why Dan Trachtenberg decided to tie his film to Portal, the director replied:
Portal: No Escape was shot at the weekend of March 27, 2010, using anamorphic lenses, recommended by Keith Dunkerley - an old friend of Dan. The director admitted that one of the biggest struggles was finding locations. He had never driven around downtown Los Angeles as much before, since he didn't have money for a location scout. The team ended up on a rooftop next to the American Apparel building, and they used compositing, plates and matte paintings for everything the viewer sees on it. Since the team had access only to one rooftop, "it took some clever shooting and compositing to make one roof look like two."
The first person Dan Trachtenberg got was a stunt coordinator; the director needed his help to find an actress, because the role was very physical.
Initially, the director had seen the character as a young, hip Asian girl. The team had the actors they auditioned do action-like sequences first, but one day they made them play an emotional scene. Dan decided to go with Danielle Rayne.
Dan Trachtenberg said that the reason why the main character never speaks, just like in the Portal series, was that he wanted to tell the story of a person breaking out of solitary confinement, "so there was never a moment where you need speaking". He also liked the idea of seeing a person going through an experience, and the viewers being on the same page as her, even though there’s no dialogue.
It took one and a half year to assemble a visual-effects team and complete post-production.
Using Twitter, Dan also found 3-D match movers from Netherlands (Marco de Goeij and Marijn Eken), and a particle animator (Paul Griswold) in New York and a CG modeler in London; the director managed to find a Make-up Artist - Dana Lee Smith - just a day before shooting the movie. The director needed matchmovers to solve almost every fx shot since he couldn’t afford any motion control cameras. Paul Griswold helped getting the portals to have a look more based in reality than the game - Dan really wanted them to look almost like acid eating away at the walls, rather than just holes growing in size; the team spent almost a month just developing that "look".
When asked about the significance of the movie's soundtrack and sound effect, the director said:
At first, the team wanted to have it ready for E3 of 2010. The premiere didn't happen, though, and they kept setting new goals. Finally, what motivated the team to finish the final stretch in 2011 was that “Totally Rad Show” does a panel every year at Comic-Con and somebody told Dan "how awesome it would be to premiere it there".
When asked about hidden meaning of the short, Dan replied:
The director decided not to have direct references to Portal in the movie.
Apart from the game, Dan drew inspiration from other movies and directors. The austere, symmetrical shooting style in the first half of the film was influenced by Kubrick – The Shining, 2001. Dan's dream was to have a Bourne-style action sequence with the Portal gun, "which we only had a glimmer of in the flick – but I look forward to having the time and money to do that fully one day".
Dan Trachtenberg admitted that he would definitely want to make more movies set in the Portal universe. He also said that he has a much more traditional science fiction movie take on what could be a Portal movie – "but a feature length film without dialogue certainly is an interesting idea!"
As of January 2016, the movie has reached almost 17,000,000 views and over 340,000 thumbs ups. Rock, paper, shotgun called Portal: No Escape "a pretty fantastic short film". Laughing Squid said that "Portal: No Escape is a beautiful live-action short film". IFC remarked that "Portal: No Escape [...] sets a high bar for anyone looking to capture the energy of Valve’s hit games". However, the network stated that "the only thing that mars No Escape is the absence of Ellen McLain’s voicework as GlaDOS (sic)", nevertheless saying "the film still succeeds despite that".
Entertainment Weekly called the movie "all kinds of awesome" and "one slickly produced piece of nerd nirvana". Peter Sciretta of SlashFilm labeled it a “must see for everyone”. Kotaku compared Portal: No Escape to the work of Christopher Nolan.
1.4 said: "We, along with over seven million other viewers, think Great Guns director Danny Trachtenberg short film Portal is genius on every level – the cinematography, vfx, editing, casting, the score, the absolute everything that went into making this film hits the high note."
- Portal No Escape: Danny T talks on 1.4
- Dan Trachtenberg’s Portal catches gamer love, Hollywood buzz on Hero Complex
- Portal short film is all kinds of awesome on Entertainment Weekly
- Portal: No Escape Is A Short Film on Rock, paper, shotgun
- Portal: No Escape, A Live-Action Short Film Based on Portal on Laughing Squid
- SHORT FILM PORTAL: NO ESCAPE TELEPORTS YOU INTO THE AWESOMENESS OF APERTURE SCIENCE on IFC
- Must Watch: Portal: No Escape on SlashFilm
- Watch This Gorgeous Portal Fan Film Right Now on Kotaku
- Quotes from Portal: No Escape reviews and interviews on Danielle Rayne's blog
- (August 23, 2011)