Reece Smith & Julian Vogel

  • 2019
  • Design
  • Film & Television - BA (Hons)

Reece Smith & Julian Vogel, Film & TV - BA (Hons): Surviving in a post-apocalyptic world

Making a feature-length film examining if it would be worth surviving a nuclear apocalypse would be a big ask of any producer-director partnership, but Reece Smith and Julian Vogel have produced just that for their 2019 degree show submission.

Reece and Julian have worked as a partnership since their second year at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). Looking for a way to push themselves further as filmmakers and put into practice their ECA learning, they’ve worked on a number of extra-curricular live projects, of which Inter-Continental Bunker Mission (I.C.B.M for short) is the latest. The film is an industry-based live project, of which they are cutting a short excerpt for their degree show piece.

Reece is the duo’s producer, with Julian taking the role of director. “Working together is great because we can call each other out and support one another,” said Julian.

“Julian once said he’s the glass half-full guy, and I’m the glass half-empty guy. I suppose that’s a full glass - we complement each other in that respect.” said Reece.

Their film grew out of the pair’s childhood interest in the post-apocalypse world and has been a couple of years in development.

Their research has been international in its reach. Over the course of filming, they travelled to meet survivalists in the US mid-West, took part in Europe’s largest apocalypse-themed live action role playing game in Poland, met with representatives of the Japanese government to find out about the country’s preparations for a potential nuclear conflict with North Korea, and spoken to survivors of Hiroshima.

Julian Vogel _ Reece Smith_Film _ Television - BA (Hons)_2019_Inter-Continental Bunker Mission (ICBM)_1.JPG
Inter-Continental Bunker Mission (ICBM)
Julian Vogel _ Reece Smith_Film _ Television - BA (Hons)_2019_Inter-Continental Bunker Mission (ICBM)_3.JPG
Inter-Continental Bunker Mission (ICBM)

Swedish national Julian grew up in Stockholm. The film has its origins in May 2018, when the Swedish government issued a pamphlet entitled “If Crisis or War Comes” which lays out what their citizens should do in the event of a national or global emergency. Advice in the leaflet includes how to get clean water and find a bomb shelter, as well as stocking up on food like cheese spread, tortillas, coffee and oat milk.

Reece and Julian decided to meet Christina Andersson, the Swedish government official who was in charge of producing the pamphlet.

In the spirit of researching through experiencing, they team built an improvised nuclear fallout shelter in the basement of a building in Stockholm. Julian and his best friend lived for five days in this bunker, cut off from the world and without water or electricity. Reece and the crew were upstairs filming what took place.

Reflecting on the experience, Julian said: “Prepping for major calamities such as a nuclear apocalypse could be about allowing people to feel an element of control, but ultimately it’s futile. We came to the conclusion that even if you might survive, a world ravaged by nuclear war is probably not worth surviving for. After watching our film, we want people to ask themselves why we tolerate this threat in our society. We want to provoke our audience to engage with the issues the film raises and to ask questions.”

Reece and Julian agree that being part of ECA, with its mix of disciplines, has been a creative and inspiring environment.

Reece said: “There’s freedom to make what you want if you have a strong desire. It’s scary but liberating. No one will hold your hand but support is there when you need it. Or you can work on your own if you want to.”

The immediate future for Reece and Julian involves staying in Edinburgh and working on building more opportunities for Scottish-Scandinavian collaboration. Reece and Julian are looking to distribute their part-English-, part-Swedish-language film in Scandinavia initially, perhaps through a short festival run. They are also in talks with a Swedish broadcaster.

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