|Music by||Wayne Boon|
405 is a three-minute film released in June 2000 and produced by Bruce Branit and Jeremy Hunt. It was the first short film to become widely distributed on the Internet and briefly became a media sensation. 405 is an example of one of the first, if not the first, viral film properties. In the year it was released, film critic Roger Ebert referred to 405 as "the most famous short film in the history of the Internet."
On an otherwise ordinary day in Los Angeles, air traffic controllers in contact with American Airlines Flight 117 have the flight appear on a radar screen. The air traffic controllers instruct the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 airliner to make an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport.
The flight crew responds by saying that it is unable to maintain altitude, and begin an emergency descent. Meanwhile, during a traffic report, a man is driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee down a mysteriously empty stretch of I-405 as a two-mile stretch was shut down to be used as the airliner's emergency landing strip. Soon, AA Flight 117 appears on its final landing approach while the driver of the Jeep attempts to outrun the incoming DC-10.
During touchdown, the airliner's nose gear collides with the back of the Jeep with the nose gear collapsing, and the fuselage slamming onto the Jeep's roof. The two vehicles are locked together, pushing the Jeep to a much higher speed. The driver tries to slow the careening aircraft but in the process of slowing down, the DC-10 and the man's car narrowly miss an elderly woman driving slowly in her Lincoln Continental. While sliding to a stop, the massive aircraft with the trapped Jeep pass over the hapless woman's car.
The incident ends with police cars arriving; at that point, the elderly woman drives slowly past, extending her middle finger at the Jeep's driver.
405 involved both live action and computer-generated imagery that took three and a half months to make. Branit and Hunt taught themselves the use of visual effects software before working as professionals. Both had been working as visual effects artists for a few years before making 405. While Hunt had a degree in filmmaking, the use of digital effects software was not commonly taught in school at that time. The camera used to make 405 was a Canon Optura, a type of digital video camera. The effects were done on a Pentium II and Pentium III computer. The software used was LightWave 3D, Digital Fusion, and Adobe Premiere.
The live action footage, consisting of the actors in still vehicles, was shot in one weekend with an hour of pick-ups later. The post production and visual effects were completed later on by the two filmmakers in their spare time. All of the shots outside of the Jeep are entirely computer generated three-dimensional models. The actors were shot in vehicles similar to the ones in the film but the exterior shots of the vehicles, the jet, the highway and background scenery in the film are composed of composited images from still photographs and video applied to three-dimensional models created in computer modeling software. About 50% of the shots in the interior of the Jeep are digital effects.
405 featured an American Airlines DC-10, the airline which was the launch customer for the DC-10. American operated 60 of the type, although by 2000, the airliner was being phased out of service.
405 is significant as an early example of the revolution in digital film-making and the use of broadband internet as a channel to distribute media. The producers shot the film using a digital camcorder and created the special effects using personal computers, all on a budget of $300. The results rivaled that of many major film and television production studios at the time. Furthermore, $140 of the budget was to pay two tickets for walking on the highway shoulder while filming. It was issued to them by California Highway Patrol Officer Dana Anderson (who is listed in the "Special Thanks" section of the credits).
At the same time, with little promotional effort, 405 soon reached millions of online viewers through widespread internet access. 405 initially launched on its own site, where it received over 10,000 downloads in its first week online. By July, the film was featured on the site iFilm, and combined with exposure from their own site, viewers totaled two million views. As a result, Branit and Hunt signed a deal as directors with CAA as well as A Band Apart. They appeared on The Today Show, Access Hollywood, Roger Ebert, Extra and many more news shows and publications.
405 won the Video Premiere Award DVD for Best Internet Video Premiere at the DVD Exclusive Awards 2001.
- Graham, Jefferson. "Filmmakers switch to fast lane with '405' short." USA Today, October 13, 2000.
- Ebert, Roger. "Is '405' a home movie?" Roger Ebert's Journal (RogerEbert.com). Retrieved: July 8, 2016.
- Savlov, Marc. "Wild Ride" The Austin Chronicle, March 2, 2001. Retrieved: July 8, 2016.
- Steffen 1998, p. 40.
- "American Airlines (USA)." taxiways. Retrieved: January 18, 2017.
- Graser, Marc. "IFilm Web exposure leads 2 to CAA deal." Variety, June 26, 2000. Retrieved: July 8, 2016.
- "Awards: '405'." IMDb. Retrieved: January 18, 2017.