Sunday, 9 December 2012

Film Review: Indie Game: The Movie - (2012)

Director: Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky
Starring: Johnathan Blow, Phil Fish, Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes
Running time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: N/A
Release date: 12th June 2012 

"My whole career has been me, trying to find new ways to communicate with people, because I desperately want to communicate with people, but I don't want the messy interaction of having to make friends and talk to people, because I probably don't like them"

I'd love to say that I watch loads of highly sophisticated 
documentaries about really intellectual subjects. But I don't. I find that a lot of documentaries are based on boring subjects that don't really resonate with me. This is possibly the best documentary I have ever seen.

So that last statement is pretty bold. I'll admit that it probably isn't the best documentary in the world, but for me it has a much closer connection than any of the others. I love video games and when I'm not watching films you can be pretty certain I'm playing games, so as you might expect I really like the topic of this film. Indie Game: The Movie follows the stories of three different groups of independent game developers. The first is Johnathan Blow, the developer of Braid and at the point the documentary had already released his game. The second group is Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, the two creating the game Super Meat Boy. The film follows them during late stages of development and the game's release. The final indie developer is Phil Fish, who during shooting is developing the game Fez. 

For a documentary the cinematography is extremely exciting and dynamic. Its colourful and interesting to watch on purely a visual level, which is a great achievement for such a low budget documentary. Great detail has gone into finding nice locations and establishing shots in each of the developer's home towns. The lighting is used effectively for setting the mood, with more lighthearted interviews having a warm glow and the ones that are darker having a grey and bleak feel. This is a great use of techniques for presenting the content of the film to an audience.

The documentary is really compelling as a whole. The three stories are interlaced with each other, cutting between each one. It manages to build them into a dramatic climax for the ending. This is the result of expert editing and a clear sense of how to properly structure a documentary. On top of that, the personalities of each developer really is what drives the piece. It's comical and heartbreaking, but never makes fun of or condescends these people. It's truthful and honest about the people who makes video games. They are people. They struggle with money, work and other people.

I know that I enjoyed this as much as I did because of the subject matter. I'd highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in indie games or game development. The difficult part is deciding if an audience could enjoy this film without having knowledge of the subject.

I've come to the conclusion that overall its a really great film. I feel that anyone who can open up to the concept will enjoy it. its a moving, compelling and eye opening documentary that details the lives of struggling game developers trying to create something truly personal to themselves.

"Part of it is not trying to be professional. A lot of people come into indie games trying to be like a big company. What those company's do is create highly polished things that serve as large as an audience as possible. That creation of a highly glossy commercial product is the opposite of making something personal. Things that are personal have flaws, they have vulnerabilities  If you don't see a vulnerability in somebody, your probably not relating to them on a very personal level. So its the same with game design. You know making it was about, let me take my deepest flaws and vulnerabilities and put them in the game."

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