Private Project

The Lion and the Firebird

An early human flees her tribe, pursued by a violent warband, the Lion Men. When she is inadvertently saved by one of the last Neanderthals, the two struggle to communicate and find trust. But when the Lion Men return, they become the key to one another's survival – and the future of humanity.

Created entirely with Virtual Production technology, The Lion and the Firebird is the first independent film of its kind. See Behind the Scenes how it was made at

  • Daniel Byers
    Bloodyback (2015), Ice Man (2019), Penumbra (2021), Aguilucho: Dance of the Harpy Eagle (2021)
  • Daniel Byers
  • Fernando Gonzalez
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Fantasy, Action
  • Runtime:
    22 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 1, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    51,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Columbia University
Director Biography - Daniel Byers

Daniel Byers is an award-winning director with a passion for genre films and new storytelling technologies. His short, The Lion and the Firebird (2022), pioneered the use of a Virtual Production workflow - a first for low-budget independent film. His first feature film, Eradication (2022), was acquired at the Cannes market and released as a Tubi original in June 2022. Daniel has also worked extensively in nature documentary, and won the Wild Animal Award at the British Documentary Film Festival in 2021. Daniel is a recent graduate of Columbia University's MFA film program, and runs the documentary studio Skyship Films and the genre film studio Dark Tower Films. He is also a writer, climber, photographer, and D&D game master.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

The Lion and the Firebird is an epic action adventure film set in 40,000 BC, during the final conflict between early humans and Neanderthals. It's a story about survival, trust, and overcoming the differences between people to find our shared humanity. Based on new and exciting archaeological evidence for language, adornment, and burial practice among our ancestors, the script was awarded a Sloan Science Grant in anthropology. To bring this ancient world to life, I worked with a talented team of artists and engineers on a real time Virtual Production stage, a first for low budget independent film. Our team also included a paleo-archaeologist, a linguist, a mask-maker, and a stone-age tool expert. Our 3D-environment artist, who formerly worked on Disney's 'The Mandalorian', built the 3D environments in the Unreal Engine, combined with production design and DMX lighting effects to bring it all to life for our actors and crew. The result is something unique, an immense labor of love by many multidisciplinary artists, and one that I hope you enjoy!