See Neill Blomkamp’s Six-Minute Rough Draft of District 9

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By now you may have heard that District 9 is one of the best-reviewed films of the year, and we’re excited to see if director Neill Blomkamp and producer Peter Jackson’s dystopian sci-fi deadpan-comedy-cum-action-thriller breaks out to a wider audience. Either way, Sony’s covered: The film impressively cost a minuscule-by-Hollywood-sci-fi-epic-standards $30 million, which probably wouldn’t even cover Michael Bay’s Ho Hos budget on Transformers 2.

How exactly did Blomkamp pull off such an elaborate film on a relative shoestring? Perhaps because he’d already had some practice: District 9 is based on Alive in Joburg, a six-minute short the director, himself a former 3-D animator, made in 2005, detailing a future world in which aliens in Johannesburg are segregated in a way that recalls South Africa’s notorious apartheid regime. It’s an awesome little film, and proof that this director is destined for great things. It was shorts like this one that reportedly inspired Jackson to pick Blomkamp, who was born in South Africa but later moved to Canada, to helm the since-aborted-but-still-awesome-looking Halo.

Related: District Supervisor: Neill Blomkamp [NYM]