Prof Gustav is probably the most iconic character created and portrayed by Leonidas. Brought to life in the featurette film Operacion Banana, the Formula and the short films Dawn of Spectral Darkness and Dawn of Spectral Darkness, Ghaar Leonidas had the chance to develop the character to the extend that practically it became an extension of his own personality, or perhaps Prof Gustav was somewhere inside already waiting for the right moment to come out.
Prof. Gustav is featured in the Short Films Magazine through three short films he's been part of.
History of the character
Prof Gustav comes after developing an older character, Raphael Rapapopulos, brought to life in the experimental short films Crazy News saga (2017-2018). Leonidas decided to create a different character, more sophisticated, more complex. That's why, after 5 experiments with Crazy News, in 2019 a new draft was written, a story that takes place in south of Spain. Operación Banana, the Formula was getting shape and Prof Gustav was born.
Operacion Banana, the Formula
Filming Operacion Banana was a complex and long process. The initial script was planned as single short film no longer than 15 minutes [it ended up 35 minutes divided in 3 short films posteriorly combined in a featurette film]... Leonidas portrayed 3 different characters: Anton, the drug dealer, Prof Gustav, the mad scientist and Inspector Bautista, the crook cop hence filming was done in two phases: first stock footages in Spain and later the green screen studio in Singapore. The stock footages were shot in summer of 2019 while on a trip back to Spain and the green screen studio one year later during the lockdown, April-July, in Singapore.
Filming in Spain
The filming in Spain used different locations: Mijas for the scenery although they were not included in the final cut.
Filming in Torremolinos
was perhaps the most complex one. The scenery was so gorgeous from every angle that we didn't want to miss any of it. Many were the shots taken before shooting the stock footages for the green screen... It was a very tough choice for the opening credits.
There were 4 characters we had to shoot in Spain: Madame Popescu portrayed by Elena Stanescu (mother in fiction and in real life), the Husband [Gerard husband in fiction and real life] with a non speaking role, Bunji Gotoda (the Bodyguard) portrayed by Benjamin Lopez and Gino (the Bar Owner) portrayed by Himself. It also had to be shot the only scene Prof Gustav would be shooting in Spain, the scene where he comes out from the basement (there was no way to pull that scene off in the green screen studio back in Singapore).
A very good friend of Leonidas. Gino doesn't have any acting background. We deeply appreciate his support by allowing us to use his gorgeous restaurant Banana Beach Club and help us with the dialogue making it all more fun.
Bunji Gotoda, portrayed by Benjamin Lopez, is Anton's bodyguard. Benjamin is the closest to a brother to Leonidas and, like Gino, has no acting background. That's why we were very happy when he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at Garoa Film Awards in Brazil.
Leonidas' characters of Anton and Prof Gustav are siblings in the film and Elena Stanescu, mother of Leonidas in real life, portrays as their mother in the film as well and as the Madame of a brothel. Although Elena has many years of artistic activity none of them is in acting. That didn't stop her to have a fantastic performance being nominated for Best Supporting Actress at Garoa Film Awards in Brazil.
The Three Characters of Leonidas
Anton is a drug dealer. He is the less characterized in the story. Serves as a bridge between the opposing characters of Prof Gustav and Bautista
Prof Gustav is a "mad" scientist. Some would describe his work as madness in his method or method in his madness. Clumsy and absent-minded his focus is just his work.
Inspector Bautista. The cliched example of the Spanish crooked cop that accepts bribery. A very frequent customer of Madame Popescu's. He ends up being the Guinea pig for Prof Gustav's experiment.
For certain shots fisheye lens was used.
Filming the three characters required careful planning. The first one filming was Bautista because of his full beard. Posteriorly Anton and then Gustav. For a precise sync of the characters Leonidas had to record an audio file with the whole script and listen to it while filming so that he could act and react to the other characters hence the earplug. Whole filming was in selfie mode with the front camera. The autofocusing of the rear camera made it impossible to use despite the notoriously higher resolution.
There is no doubt that in every film the funniest memories are the "behind-the-scenes" moments. We managed to have some despite the fact that we had only 2 hours to film at the restaurant.
Dawn of Spectral Darkness
This story, although is a continuation of Operacion Banana, the Formula, it is not a sequel. Here the story is focused on Prof Gustav trying to find a cure or vaccine for the Covid-19 when he receives the visit of a version of himself from a parallel universe. But this version of him looks completely different from Gustav.
The film was fully shot in the green screen studio. The pre and post production were more tedious to achieve due to the lack of proper stock footages. Leonidas had to use copyright free images, green screen effects, layers above layers of different videos.
A new challenge showed up in this project: the Make-up. Leonidas introduces in this new story one new character, Zoltan, the entity from the parallel universe. Zoltan needs to have that wild look, survivor of a zombie apocalypse. He himself would look quite affected by a certain change or mutation, with a pale look and drained aspect. His superpowers acquired in a post apocalyptic event made him pay a high toll.
Dawn of Spectral Darkness, Ghaar
Is the sequel of Dawn of Spectral Darkness and if we thought Zoltan was a scary character here we are introduced to an even scarier one, Ghaar, an immortal entity, guardian of the different parallel dimensions responsible for all natural disasters sent to Earth as a reminder to the Humans of their role to guard this world instead of destroying it.
Filming and Story
Same as previous films, DoSD,G was filmed in the green screen studio using a lot of graphic and special effects, including a dark original score and sound effects to enhance the dark vibes.
Dark wisdom would be perhaps the best description for this character. The story takes place in Zoltan's world long after their apocalypse. The sky is continuously clouded in dark and thick clouds, a universe under constant thunder storms. All structures are practically ruins.
Ghaar required an even more challenging make up with the skull totally shaved and fully white. The contact lenses were supposed to be full, blind white, unfortunately using both lenses the visibility was drastically reduced, impossible to operate the filming equipment, [a gentle reminder, there is no filming crew]. The next option was to use one full white lens and one white with a whole, like those used for Zoltan.
While Operacion Banana, the Formula has a comical score in Dawn of Spectral Darkness we appreciate a complete change in the mood towards darker themes.
in Dawn of Spectral Darkness, Ghaar
In this film Gustav has just a cameo at the beginning and after the credits. The story is focused on Ghaar and his rage and disappointment towards humanity.
The Feature Project
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Plot summary as per IMDb
After accepting an overseas job offer for a virus repellent research, professor Gustav, a quirky European scientist, faces the culture shock of the local environment in Singapore.
A Singaporean millionaire wants to create an antivirus, a virus repellent and for this purpose he hires a group of scientists. However, after two years of research, the scientists seem to get stuck at certain stage. The CEO of the company hires Prof Gustav to be their new team leader...
The story has comical situations mostly provided by Gustav's character but also romance and drama from the local characters and even a touch of supernatural situations.
Written in a very Singaporean style, Local-ized aims to be produced for Singaporean audience.