In 2012 images appeared online from Alex Zemke that showed what looked like it would be the be-all, end-all of Portal fan films. Coming across as something between Pixar and Star Wars Rebels, Companionship was pretty much as perfect as anyone could hope for regarding an expanded adventure of Chell and fans clamored for more.
But there wasn't anything more. Zemke moved on to other projects such as Puppeteer and The Last of Us: Left Behind for Sony Playastion. Companionship seemed dead in the water until just now.
Last week Zemke posted online a very rough, but still remarkable trailer for the project that finally showed Chelle in motion as she was launched to and fro among the turrets of Aperture Science. You can check it out below.
Though obviously still very rough, it does show off the same wonderful character model that captured fan imaginations three years ago, and infuses the mute, determined Chell with a great deal of warmth and humanity. He also reached out to us via Facebook to let us know how the project and come back from the dead and what we could expect.
"At the time we wanted to use this teaser as a vertical slice, where we'd put it through the entire production pipeline," said Zemke. "But the whole production got way too big, collapsed under its own weight. The ensuing year was eaten alive by way too much overtime and a general malaise over the 'failure' of the project. But it's been long enough now that I'm over all that, ready to tackle it again, but do it right this time."
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Zemke says that much of what originally went wrong was that there was a rush of people eager to be a part of the project, and that he had gotten so caught up in that he believed he could design all aspects of the film concurrently. Now he and a small, dedicated team are taking it in a more conventional route. They are currently in the process of finalizing the story before moving into pre-production, an aspect that is largely finished thanks to the original work on the character models.
Despite Chell's muteness there will also be some voice acting to record for movement sounds like grunts and other non-language noise Chell makes throughout her adventures. Neither GLaDOS or Wheatley are expected to feature as characters in the main film, but the possibility of having GLaDOS voice actress Ellen McLain record lines for a post-credit sequence has been brought up. Though he doubts that we'll see the release of Companionship in 2015, he plans on focusing hard on the project to keep it rolling along.
"I'll be looking to move forward hard and fast, so I might be surprised by our speed," he says.
Portal has spawned some absolute fantastic fan films aiming at showing Valve what might be possible on the big screen. In 2011 Dan Trachtenberg released a gritty live-action short called No Escape starring Danielle Rayne that received over 15 million views. There was also Colin and Connor McGuire's Survive as a more direct adaptation of the game, the comedic take on how a portal gun would work out in real life from Jason Craft and even a crossover with Doctor Who. It's a field a lot more crowded than when Zemke started out in 2012 and he'll have be really be thinking with portals to live up to expectations.