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The subject matter of this article does not take place in the "real" Half-Life universe.
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Beyond Black Mesa is a short (about twelve minutes long), independent fan film inspired by the Half-Life series. This is an action packed short film centering around Adrian Shephard and a band of resistance fighters struggling to get out a warning about the impending invasion.
Five years after the Black Mesa Incident, Adrian Shephard finds himself once again fighting for his very life and this time he’s no longer outfitted in his gas mask and camo. Much like teaming up with the scientists at Black Mesa to survive, he’s joined the resistance to preserve what little remains of the world they once knew. The firms starts as Shepard flees from a large force of Combine Soldiers. According to him, nobody knows from whence the Combine came, and that, to the combine, humans are "nothing but a race bent on self-destruction." Shephard makes his way through a Ravenholm steel manufacturing facility, encountering another resistance fighter (male). The resistance fighter attempts to broadcast a warning about the upcoming invasion through a small, high-tech communication device, however the signal is not strong enough. At that point, another resistance fighter (female) runs past Shepard and the male resistance fighter, followed by zombies. They all fight and flee the Zombies (with no Headcrabs) until they reach a resistance safe room, abandoned save for the corpse of a resistance fighter. They stock up on the weapons and medical supplies left in the room. They take a back exit as they are pursued by combine soldiers. The two resistance fighters flee as Shepard engages the soldiers to buy time for them. He is separated from them and gets in a close-quarters fight with a skilled combine soldier, and kills him. While Shephard fights the combine, the two resistance fighters make their way to higher ground to find a better signal for their broadcast. The broadcast is sent just as the male resistance fighter is shot in the head and the female resistance fighter is captured. Just as about to be executed, the executioner turns on the other soldiers and shoots them. The executioner reveals himself to be Shepard wearing a combine soldier's uniform. The two flee once again and are met in an open street by ten combine soldiers and an APC. Shepard announces that his "story ends here so that the world might have a chance; the world beyond Black Mesa." Unable to flee any further or fight, the two join hands and Shepard arms a grenade he drops at his feet as the soldiers approach. The film ends as an explosion is heard.
Curtin and six friends were inspired by the Half-Life series to create a non-profit firm, Black Mesa Sources. The film had a $1,200 (USD) budget. The money came from the jobs of the creators and was developed between those full-time jobs. The money was used for gear, costumes, smoke grenades, lights and music, not the camera or software. The film took two years to complete and “countless hours of post-production.”
The film parts from the canon and was developed with artistic liberties, such as Zombies with no Headcrabs. The creators wished the film to stay close to the Half-Life universe, however technical difficulties inhibited them from achieving complete authenticity.
Beyond Black Mesa won ‘Best Science Fiction’ award at the AOF festival. The initial release was viral with over 200,000 views in the first day and a half. The video was also favorited by Valve on their official YouTube channel.
Brian Curtin, in an interview with Critical Gamer said “There will not be a follow up movie unless we have funding. As of right now, I think our next project will be an original story.”
- When shooting the film, Curtin used lots of shaky camerawork and shot at a high shutter speed, with the color desaturated and tinted green in post. The goal of this was to achieve a "gritty" look, similar to films such as Saving Private Ryan or the Bourne series.
- The Zombies in this film don't resemble any species from the games, but they make the same sounds as Fast Zombies.
- The film contains many references to the games (such as the sign saying Ravenholm Steel, the phrase "Opposing Force" appearing on the map, the use of the line "Smell the ashes," etc).