What’s In the Box?

“What in the Box?” is the extremely ambitious “test film” created by a Dutch students Tim Smit and Thibaut Niels that’s been heating up YouTube—and now international media—quite a bit in the last few months.

The story is an apocalyptic POV sci-fi thriller that mixes bits of JJ Abrams and Half-Life together to create a thoroughly entertaining 9-minute ride. Tim Smit’s not a filmmaking student, though. He studies physics. VFX is a “hobby.” Despite that, it’s likely that “What’s In the Box?” will take him on a new path he hadn’t quite planed on.

The film’s title is likely a literal take on JJ Abrams’ “Mystery Box” TED talk. The music has been lifted from Lost, and the POV style is strongly reminiscent of Cloverfield (another Abrams project), but instead of seeing these things as negatives, I see them as brilliant remixes of cultural phonemena. (Yes, I’m thinking of Larry Lessig.)

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lost’s executive producer Damon Lindelof said:

“The fact that anyone with talent and a video camera — or maybe just the video camera — can tell a chapter of any story, whether it be their own or a continuation of someone else’s, is pretty cool to me. But what’s even cooler is when the fan-generated content becomes indistinguishable from the content generated by the creators themselves. The quality of “What’s in the Box?” is secondary only to its mystery.”

An interview with “What In the Box? creators

(You can toggle English subtitles using the options button in the lower-right corner.)

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About the author

Justin Cone

/ justincone.com
Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



WOW! that’s an amazing piece of work, hands down. Congrats, maybe he can helm a Half-Life esque movie :)


best of luck to this guy. I love the “oh my god” from the hollywood exec.

Greg Herman

Justin, killer post! love the extra stuff! Great to see and very inspirational.



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