The Martyrs | Case Study

Art with integrity and value

Is it possible to make art while also trying to make a sale? It is indeed.

We know, because we did exactly that with this epic title sequence for a proof of concept TV series pitch called “The Martyrs”, which traces the bold, heroic persons throughout history who sacrificed their lives in the name of their beliefs.

Our artistic beliefs, thankfully, were not sacrificed as we set out to produce and direct this highly marketable asset for series creator Trey Reynolds and partner company BoldFlame Entertainment. It was one of those refreshing opportunities where we could freely exercise our collective imagination in service of a subject matter that gets our creative blood pumping.

sizzle shmizzle

There’s only one way to sell a doc or reality series, right? Wrong.

We thought outside the box for this, forgoing the traditional “sizzle” reel approach. Instead, we developed a poetic, compelling title sequence that integrated the show’s key narratives and protagonists.

Far more compressed and conceptual than a sizzle, the resulting sequence is a cinematic display of storytelling with the emotional weight and intrigue of a movie trailer, rather than just a montage of cool shots.

The series is still in development, but phones have been ringing.

A true passion project

At Evolve, we’re so used to insane budgets that force us to work within a specific creative framework and with massive crews of hired guns. This project was the complete opposite. It was scrappy. It was 100% homegrown, made by our team members only. A beer and pizza budget and just shared passion to make something memorable.

If we didn’t dream up and capture an image in our Nashville studio, we pulled it from the Evolve Vault – a private footage library composed of more than a decade of footage we’ve amassed from our shoots all over the world.

And, again, it required an all-hands-on-deck attitude to make it happen. Everyone took a week off from their usual roles, and this project evolved into a true grassroots endeavor; interns and PA’s became stylists and makeup artists; local Tennesseans stood in as our talent; that pile of dead bodies midway through the sequence was a bunch of our friends, and friends of friends, who have nothing to do with film production. 

It was a team effort, and in turn one of our most fun, most satisfying adventures.

passion in post

To make stone tablets bleed, and to bring iconic martyrs back from the dead in the most lyrical and visually arresting way possible, we leaned on our classic calling card – integrating live action footage with visual effects.


All the titles, animation, custom 3d, color correction, and finishing happened under our roof. post is where our team’s collective, creative efforts really brought out the “sizzle” of this spec project.

It also had a lot to do with our music sensibility. The timeless grit and rebellious spirit of the Johnny Cash track we chose amplifies the power of these great martyrs and the overall gravity and heartbeat of the final edit.


When the dust settled and everyone went back to their normal day jobs around the office, we were closer as a team and had a project each and every one of us could be proud of, because we all left our mark on it in some way. 

It was a great reminder that, from the top down, we're a team of multitalented doers and makers, and The Martyrs brought out our very best.