Hammer Creative, a videogame creative agency specializing in all aspects of AV, has conceived, produced, edited and provided postproduction for a four-trailer marketing campaign promoting THQ’s new “Darksiders II” video game.
Creative director/producer Brett Hocker and the Hammer team spearheaded the campaign, first conceiving and storyboarding the four trailers behind “Darksiders II,” including three that are fully CGI, along with an ambitious, live-action trailer book-ended by CGI content. Hammer then retained The Ebeling Group and director Abdel Abonamous to shoot the live-action trailer – a highly cinematic piece filmed on-location in Prague earlier this year.
Titled “Last Sermon,” the live-action trailer begins with an Eastern European city lying in ruin, but with an old church still proudly standing among the rubble. Inside the church, actor James Cosmo, (Game of Thrones) appears as a minister, delivering one last sermon to his congregants, all of whom stand on the brink of death. At the end of the piece, we see the logo for “Darksiders II” and the tagline: “Death Lives.”
“Brett Hocker wrote and produced this dramatic piece for ‘Darksiders II,’ and truly was the creative visionary behind this unique trailer,” said Hammer Creative’s executive creative director Scott Hayman. “Our goal with this campaign was to build up the mystique of the ‘Death’ game character. Gamers aren’t sure if ‘Death’ is a hero or a villain – whether he’s good or evil. We don’t really know what his intentions are, so we wanted to convey a bit of intrigue about this unique character. For the ‘Last Sermon’ trailer, we wanted to add a human element to the story of ‘Darksiders,’ which takes place mostly in Heaven or Hell – there’s very little game activity on Earth. The scene of a Minister in a decimated church delivering his literal ‘last sermon’ was our way of presenting what would likely happen here on Earth, before the actual apocalypse were to take place.”
“The live-action trailer was conceived as a companion piece of fiction inspired by the ‘Darksiders’ story, bringing real life ‘humans’ into the game’s world,” Hocker said. “We shot the piece for a week inside a 200-year old church near Prague, with no heat, during winter. The ‘cold smoke’ you see coming out of James Cosmo’s mouth during his speech was real! James was the perfect actor for this part, since he has such a larger than life presence and a wonderful, commanding voice. We felt if anyone would stand up to ‘Death’ during mankind’s final hour in real life, it would be him.”
“What attracted me to the ‘Last Sermon’ script was its deliberate focus on the collateral damage in the ‘Darksiders’ universe,” Abonamous said. “Outside the church, Hell, in a very literal sense, is breaking loose, but in our film, we decided to focus on the reactions of a huddled congregation who barely even understand what’s happening to them, let alone the bigger picture that the game’s plot paints. This storytelling method takes a huge event and transforms it into a low-level personal experience, making us, as viewers, feel like helpless bystanders. The location in Prague we found was great, both visually and in terms of the emotions it elicited. We shot in the very deep winter, and my goal was to make sure that James Cosmo and the extras felt a deep desolation. James was the perfect choice for the role of Priest, both for his physicality and for the deeply human element that shimmers from behind his eyes.”
“Right from my first conversations with the Hammer Creative team, I knew that we shared the same feelings about this material and together we branched out from the core of the concept to add more subtle facets to it. Brett, Scott, and I were always following the same emotional guideline – this type of understanding is sometimes hard to come by with creative collaborators, and I’m thankful for every moment of it.”
“What Hammer Creative did so effectively in producing ‘The Last Sermon’ was to deliver something directly targeted to the Darksiders audience,” vice president of marketing, THQ, Jim Huntley said. “After viewing this trailer, fans will be acutely aware of the massive scope of the apocalypse that humankind is experiencing in the world of the game.”
Hammer Creative produced additional behind-the-scenes content promoting “Darksiders II,” and supplied all postproduction for the campaign, including editorial, motion graphics, original music, sound design and audio post, at its Hollywood facilities. Additionally, Hammer retained Sydney, Australia-based Plastic Wax Animation to produce the CGI featured within the four “Darksiders II” trailers.