In the world of Warhammer 40K, war is everything. War is all that remains. The entire universe is fighting for domination and control in the 41st millennia. There are many creatures and races involved but one of the most notable is the Space Marine. The Space Marines are the far, distant future of mankind, genetically modified humans suited up in massive body armor and fighting for the Emperor of Mankind (The Emperor protects!). They know no fear and step into battle with blessings from the chaplains adorning their armor. They are the last line of defense for humanity and the first line of attack for the Emperor.
Warhammer 40K Cinema Background
In 2010, an official Warhammer 40K movie was released starring the voice talents of John Hurt, Terence Stamp, and Sean Pertwee. Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40K Movie was an animated film that followed a contingent of Ultramarines, a Space Marine subset chapter, on a mission. The opportunity to see into the lives and actions of the Space Marines as Games Workshop, the company behind the Warhammer 40K tabletop game, truly intended was as glorious as victory for the Emperor. However, for all the thrill and hype of a feature length film, it was lacking. As an animated movie, it came across to some people as an extended video game cutaway. People called out for a live action film, knowing it could be done by someone, somewhere.
That someone is cinematic designer, writer and Warhammer 40K fan Richard Boylan and his team behind the fan film Guardsman. The 4-minute short film was a partially crowd-funded passion project from the Electronic Arts cinematic designer. In speaking with Polygon, Boylan enthusiastically expressed his desire to work on a full-length feature film. After seeing the dark and gritty short that was shot in a single day (with months of post-production), we put our faith in Boylan and want to see what he can do with more than a $9,000 budget and calling in favors!
About the Guardsman Short
The fan film starts with Imperial Guardsman Raines (Erik Steffens) waking up from an injury, blood coating the side of his head. There’s been an incident of some kind during battle and the guardsman is on his back in a single shaft of light in a dark cavern-like room surrounded by rubble, shrapnel protruding from his leg. It appears he has fallen through the ceiling and he is not alone in the space. Rustling and clicking can be heard, snapping the soldier to attention. He gathers his weapon and fires into the darkness revealing a Hormagaunt, an insidious creature released upon a planet by the Tyranids to destroy the planet and absorb the biomass for the Hive, leaving the world bare.
When his lasgun quits working, the guardsman struggles to his feet, pulls a knife, and begins praying to the Emperor for what he assumes is his last stand. A new sound echoes through the room and, from the darkness behind him, his prayer is answered. An Angels of Vengeance chapter Space Marine (Terry Skrinjar) marches in and takes on the Hormagaunts with both his bolt gun and power fist, knocking the guardsman down in the process. When the current wave is dead, he turns to the guardsman and instructs him to take up his weapon. Imperial Guardsman Raines struggles back to his feet and the pair face the darkness as the next wave of the Tyranid attack begins.
And that’s it. That four-minute long movie is dark and gritty and it gives us a glimpse into the reality of war in the 41st millennia. It also provides a real-life size comparison between the various troops in the Space Marine army; seeing the miniatures side by side is one thing, but seeing an average human guardsman standing next to a fully armored marine? It’s breathtaking. Boylan definitely has a gift and his movie pitch on Twitter has us wondering who we need to talk to in order to get this guy a full blown budget and official licensing!
Watch the full fan film below and let us know what you think. Are you as impressed as we are? Are you wanting more? Or does it miss the mark? Somewhat related: Do you play Warhammer 40K and want to share your army with us?
Guardsman was written by Boman Modine (visual effects: The Dark Knight Rises) based on a story by Boman Modine and Richard Boylan. It was directed by Richard Boylan and produced by Boman Modine. It stars Erik Steffens as the Imperial Guardsman Raines and Terry Skrinjar as the Angels of Vengeance Space Marine. Voices are provided by Pete Beaumont and Graham McNeill (Warhammer novelist). The Facebook page for the film can be found HERE. Richard Boylan can be found on Twitter. Terry Skrinjar, the cosplayer behind the armor, can be found at BeCosplay on Facebook.
What is Warhammer 40K?
Warhammer 40K is a tabletop miniatures game produced by Games Workshop, a sister-game to Warhammer. The game is set in the 41st millenia, aka the year 40,000, hence 40K. Reference material for all of the possible races and creatures is released along with rule book and various miniature models, including warfare armaments and vehicles, for players to build and paint. Players take turns crossing a table top setting for either total annihilation or some preset game objective. The game has expanded to computer console variants, card games, and spawned decades of novels. For more information, visit Games Workshop’s website or a Games Workshop location near you.