Interview With Zack Finfrock of Fallout: Nuka Break
A couple of days ago I had the pleasure of sitting down with one of the minds behind the fan film Fallout: Nuka Break, Zack Finfrock. Nuka Break is a love letter to the Fallout series, a definite labor of passion that only big Fallout fans could create. If you haven’t watched Nuka Break, check it out:
Now Finfrock and co are looking out to the horizon and hoping to one up their previous endeavor: they’d like to raise $20,000 to help fund an ongoing Nuka Break webseries.
To start off, could you tell our readers who you are and what you do? What other things have you worked on?
My name is Zack Finfrock, and I’m an actor, artist, and professional geek. I’ve been drawing cartoons and comic for as long as I can remember, and I’ve had my work feature in comic shorts for ‘Atomic Robo’. I’ve also been in the webcomic world, as the comicbook artist for ‘Crtl-Alt-Delete’s comic ‘Analog and D+Pad’, as well as the co-creator of ‘Warbot in Accounting’.
I moved to LA to pursue acting in the fall of 2008. Since then I’ve been in web shorts and series, as well as my share of extra work on “professional” sets. I became the host of Indy Mogul’s ‘Backyard FX’ in April of 2010 and have been doing that since.
What brought you to pursue making the original Nuka Break? The new, larger project?
Well, I’ve been a fan of the Fallout series for a little while, but it was really Fallout 3 that got me sucked into the series. Now there are some Fallout “purists” that say the 3rd one isn’t worthy of the Fallout name. I strongly disagree. Sure, it wasn’t a top-down click-to-move RPG, but the world itself was amazing. And I was a huge fan of Bethesda’s Oblivion and it’s open world gameplay, so to take that and put it in Fallout was one of the best thing I think anyone could have done! I put well over 150+ hours into Fallout 3. There were times where I would sit and play and not realize 6 to 8 hours went by. And that was the first time in a long time that has happened with a game.
So I just started to think “Hey, the original Fallout series took place here in California.” and I started to chat with my group of films about a possible fan film. Usually, when the word “Fan Film” would come up in conversation, all my friends would say something like “That’s cool, but lets make original content.” That makes sense and all, but I’ve always wanted to make a fan film of some sort to show appreciation of the things that inspire me. And for some reason, this was the first time my friends were into the idea of a fan film, mainly because it was Fallout!
We got such an amazing reaction from the original fan film. Almost nothing but positive comments on Youtube, and that’s hard. One of the biggest comments we got was “More please!” So, here we are.
How did the cast and crew come together?
Well, it really started with my co-writer Brian Clevinger. He and I went back and forth with a script and fleshed out a great little story. Then I went to my old roommates, Julian Higgins and Vincent Talenti, and talked to them. We started to plan for it, getting everything in line. Julian had always wanted to do a post-apocalypse type short, and Vincent is always up for doing a cool story.
Then I talked with my producer friend Melanie Wagor. She was really what got this project going from just an idea to a full production. She was into the idea of creating something that hundreds of people would see and be able to appreciate.
Then it was just a matter of getting my actor friends together. I wrote each role specifically for my friends. I moved out to LA to act and make things with my friends, and this was another example of just that.
What would you say has been the biggest challenge in creating Nuka Break?
There’s so much to the history of Fallout and it’s universe, that it was fun to develop characters that fit into it. I guess the hardest part was the fact that I wanted to stay away from any characters that were in the games already and create all new ones. I didn’t want someone watching Nuka Break and say to themselves “Oh, it’s [insert Fallout character]. I killed him in my game, so this story doesn’t work for me.”
The actual filmmaking part was surprisingly easy.
Did you intend for this project to get this big, could you imagine this happening when you were making the original Nuka Break?
I knew people who loved Fallout would watch it, but I had no expectations for it to be as well received as it is. I didn’t expect to hit over one million views, or to have people like the original producer of the first Fallout email me and tell me he liked the fan film. It’s all been so amazing.
Having many resident Fallout fans at Nightmare Mode, we were curious regarding the material you guys used for reference for the series. Have you played the original titles aside from Fallout 3 or New Vegas? Have you by any chance referred to the ‘Fallout Bible’ at all? The plot fits!
I’ve played the first two Fallout games before, but never to the amount that I played the newer ones. I guess I can just get into the new ones because of the format of the gameplay.
So, as I was able to pull from the games I played, it wasn’t enough. At E3 2010, I met and talked with Chris Avellone, the writer of the ‘Fallout Bible’ (and Creative Director at Obisdian). I gave him my basic outline of the fan film, and we emailed back and forth about it. He read the whole script and gave me notes on how to keep it in cannon to the Fallout Universe. I honestly couldn’t have done it without him.
Related: how important is it to keep the series true to the games for you guys? Or are you interested in carving out your own piece of the continuity?
Honestly, as I said before, I don’t want players to look at my story and say that their personal story was different, so I’d rather just use the world available to me and create my own stuff that fits into it.
Could you tell us what your favorite part or most memorable moment of the Fallout games is?
The one point that I can’t forget is the first time leaving Vault 101 in Fallout 3. The blinding light, sound fx and the music that played was, in my opinion, perfect. It got me ready for an amazing adventure.
The initial video is vague as to where the film takes place–there are both eyebots and the NCR flags, for example. Does it take place in someplace in particular?
Well, when I was writing the story, I figured it could be anywhere between The Boneyard and New Reno in the NCR. And according to Chris, the Eyebots would have and could have traveled that far west.
Will the new series have an overarching plot, or will it be episodic?
All one big overarching plot. I’d love to have it all as one big fan film that will be anywhere between 45 to 60 minutes long in the end.
What kind of tone do you see the new series taking? Focused on humor, similarly to the original?
Humor, for sure. As “serious” as the newer Fallout games were compared to the original, I’m a fan of comedies over all. I do love that Fallout does lend itself to humor and that allows us to have fun.
Are you guys in touch with Obsidian or Bethesda at all regarding the series? Or in touch with anyone involved with the series–say, Ron Perlman?
Well, I’m still involved with Chris Avellone for the story. He’s such a nice guy. And as for anyone like Ron Perlman, I would LOVE to have him narrate the series as well. I guess anything is possible.
Will you guys be introducing any characters from the games, by any chance?
The only way we can have that happen is if the character couldn’t be killed in the original Fallout games. I want to have our characters fit into this universe without messing with anyone’s playthrough in their games.
According to the Fallout Bible, there are a ridiculous number of vaults that are never discussed or shown, which offers a lot of room for creativity without breaking the current continuity. Do you think you guys will explore other Vault’s experiments in the series, aside from where the main character comes from?
I’ve thought about that, but the only way I would want to do that is if we could get (or make) a set that looks like a vault from the inside. As of right now, that’s not planned.
Do you see the series pursuing any tie-ins–like, say, a blog, or a webcomic?
Since I do draw, the chance of there being an online comic exploring some backstory or side characters is a huge possibility.
Anything you want to say to your fans?
Thanks for the support, and keep spreading the word! I look forward to giving you guys more Fallout soon!
If you are interested in supporting Zack’s project, make sure to head down to their Indiegogo page, here. “All the money donated will go towards production, locations, and pay for the cast and crew.”