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Brendon Small Expands GALAKTIKON with “Nightmare” Video (Exclusive)

Brendon Small Expands GALAKTIKON with “Nightmare” Video (Exclusive)

Brendon Small does not like to be idle. When you talk to him, it’s clear that he’s always planning something, always thinking about what he can build and create. Though his second solo album, Galaktikon II: Become the Storm, released last fall, Small is still building the world of Galaktikon, expanding it now to fit the form of a live-action video short—in part a video for the song “Nightmare,” but also so much more than that.

Given Small’s body of work, you can probably guess that this isn’t your typical music video. For one thing, Small has been working on it for nearly a year. Though primarily known for the world of animation (Home Movies and Metalocalypse being two of his most famous creations), Small had an itch to enter the world of live-action. “I like animation, I’ll do more animation in the future, but right now what I care about is stuff that happens in camera,” Small told Nerdist. “In camera effects. Tactile things. Model spaceships.”

Scene from “Nightmare” by Brendon Small

Galaktikon started almost by accident, and it’s grown over the years through a careful web of favors, lucky breaks, and good ol’ fashion hard work. About five years ago, Small was assembling the musicians and booking space to record the second Dethklok (the fictitious band from his TV show Metalocalypse) album when he was told the funding was not quite in place yet. “So, after I hired these people and rented out this space they told me this deal was not done and they didn’t know how long it was going to take,” Small said. “I’m the kind of guy, I don’t want to take up people’s schedule’s and not use them, so I decided to use my own money and make a record. That’s how Galaktikon started. That ended up being the first Galaktikon record.”

After the success of the first record, Galaktikon grew. There was a second record. A comic book series from Eric Powell’s Albatross Funnybooks. And then, there was a helmet. Small and his brother, who works in the effects industry, started making stuff that fit into the Galaktikon world. Physical things, tactile things. Small said that he and his brother started having so much fun, he just wanted to keep going. “I want to keep building this out, start messing around with things I wish I could have done with MetalocalypseThese ink tanks, these Flash Gordon-style ink tanks, that was the beginning of the whole thing.” 

A six-eyed whale. Photo by Brendon Small

Using a fish tank and some colored water, old school effects guys used to create visions of space that people now just render on a computer screen. You could also drop something into these tanks to get a wavy, floating effect, like a ghost or a giant alien whale. “Putting a silicon lump of fish in a tank, an aquarium, something happens,” Small laughed. “I told my brother I wanted a six-eyed whale mixed with a samurai fighting fish. We had to figure out how to make that.”

When we asked further about the six-eyed whale, Small told us where the idea spawned from. “There’s this scene in Poltergeist where there’s this lanky tendril ghost,” he said. “I remember pausing that and asking my brother, who has a lot of insider knowledge because he works in the industry, ‘How did they do this? How do they make this thing look so cool?’ My brother said, ‘I’m pretty sure they shot that underwater.’ Sometimes they’ll do that to get a crazy effect, a ghostly effect.'”

Spaceships. Photo by Brendon Small.

After that, Small fell in love with creating practical effects, and the “Nightmare” video just grew and grew. He readily admits to obsessing over lighting and smoke, models and angles. He wanted to create something that reminded him of the films he grew up watching, but which also was fun and unique. “CGI looks very real, but it feels fake,” Small said. “Practical effects may look fake, but they feel very real. That’s been something that drove us.” He raved about the works of Tobe Hooper and Roger Corman, figures known for turning micro-budget projects into something visceral and exciting. You can see the influence all over “Nightmare.”

And now, after all this building and obsessing, Small is just about ready to unveil “Nightmare” to the world. We have a new trailer you can watch and drool over while you wait for Funny or Die to launch the full thing on Feb. 22. You can, and should, pick up the awesome Galaktikon comic series, and both the Galaktikon albums are out there for your listening pleasure.

Images: Brendon Small

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