In a futuristic wasteland, “Outpost” follows an overconfident marauder and his snarky robot companion as they pillage an abandoned bunker and have an unexpected encounter. The film stars Jamie Costa (“Robot Riot,” “Bring Him To Me”) and Steph Barkley (“Episodes from Apocalypse,” “Alone”), and was shot by cinematographer William Hellmuth. The project was produced by Julianna Ulrich, Brian Ulrich, Jamie Costa and Director Benjamin Anklam.

Long time collaborators and close friends Costa and Anklam had been musing about a project together for some time. “I had been wanting to do a story with this plot device for years,” said Anklam. “After I wrote the script I sent it to Jamie and he loved it and we said, ‘What if we just did this?’ We filmed the whole thing in one day, four weeks after I sent him my script.”

It was Costa that brought aboard Hellmuth as cinematographer. “He is so good at what he does and knows the vision immediately,” said Costa. “You can just stand back and let him go.”

“The post apocalyptic, sci fi world of ‘Outpost,’ combined with our shooting location, provided immediate inspiration and I quickly realized it was the perfect opportunity to try a stylized look.”</span>

Shooting the film in the winter, Hellmuth took advantage of the low sun angle to maximize the effect. “I wanted it to have a harsh, warm look, with lifted shadows and an almost old polaroid feel,” added Hellmuth. “With more extreme looks like this, it’s always best to expose specifically for what you want, rather than shooting neutral and finding it in post. In most cases, I exposed the camera just shy of clipping highlights, preserving as much shadow detail as possible. This way we could have flexibility in post to bring detail into the shadows without introducing noise.” Hellmuth shot with the Blackmagic URSA 12K cinema camera.

In developing the look, Hellmuth contacted colorist Wes Langdon to help create a shooting LUT. “Wes and I spent a few days in pre production discussing the look we wanted,” said Hellmuth. “I sent him stills from various films, saying things like ‘I want the gamma curve from this film, mixed with the color of this film.’ He’d send me grades using clips I’d shot before in similar lighting conditions.”

Langdon was able to produce a shooting LUT that emulated Hellmuth’s preferred look, which Anklam and Costa both approved. “William and I had multiple conversations about the look, referencing ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Star Wars’ among other things. Our main goal above all was to have it feel unique and set apart from the films that inspired us,” added Anklam.

Anklam also filled the role of editor, working in DaVinci Resolve Studio, his preferred package. “This was the third project I’ve edited in DaVinci Resolve,” said Anklam. “For me, Resolve seems more intuitive than any other NLE, which is the most valuable factor. ”

For the final grade, Hellmuth was pleased he and Langdon had done early work on creating a shooting LUT. “Because the look was worked out in pre production, we were able to focus more on the details during the grade such as lifting shadows a bit here, boosting the sky there, etc, instead of trying to define all of our broad strokes,” said Hellmuth.

Langdon was able to take the visuals to another level based on his history with Hellmuth and his work. “I definitely tapped into Will’s love of ‘Star Wars’ by referencing Tatooine exteriors pretty early on,” said Langdon. “Shooting the time of day they did, framing the way Will did, really helped sell that western feel, but the production design and punchy color makes it feel more modern and sci fi. Color contrast goes a long way; there’s a Hue vs Sat node in my group look to drum up teal blues out of the skies, for example.”

“On that note, I like to think more photographically when grading narrative, and a big part of that for me is assessing the natural color contrast in the image and trying to have it work for you rather than fight it,” continued Langdon. “In this case, we have so much being anchored in that saturated earth palette that little pops like the Ciff character, blasters, and even the sky really jump out of the frame already.”

With the premiere of “Outpost” at Dances With Films, Costa and Anklam are already at work on continuing stories with the characters. “Ben and I have collaborated on several previous projects and have a built in friendship that goes back to when we were roommates, so it’s a classic ‘making movies with friends’ situation for us,” said Costa.