So my break in between college semesters, when compared to most of my friends’, has been a long one—a little over five weeks. Nonetheless though, life has gone on and my second semester of college is starting in two days, which has caused my brain to fall back into a kind of countdown mode. The looming semester has given me a sense of urgency to waste no more of my vacation time, and as a result I’ve been actively trying to engage in interesting and constructive activities for my last days, which tonight led me to watch this particular documentary, Indie Game: The Movie.
On the whole I really enjoyed this film, and I’m happy about all of the publicity and awards that it has received because I think it was a good topic to explore and uncover. If I’m noting smaller details of the film, I found the cinematography to be surprisingly good. Often times, for myself at least, I wouldn’t pay much attention to the scenery or backgrounds in a documentary film, and this film admittingly didn’t have a lot of that, but the small bits that it did have of San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Boston were very pleasing to the eye, and it even managed to make a lot of the game designers’ work space seem very flattering and charming. But then again, maybe I’m just biased because I appreciate all of those posters and hardware.
Another small aspect that I liked was the decision to focus on the three games and their relation to time stages of development—the past, present, and future. Apparently the raw footage was over 300 hours so the film team had to cut down a lot of the footage to make what ended up to be about an hour and a half. The three teams who they did focus on all represented a different stage of development; one man is reflecting on the success of his game, another team of two is documented in the middle of production and during the release, and by the end the film there is still one man who is aspiring to his own release date goal; a kind of bittersweet ending for his story. The presentation and weaving together of these three stories was very simple, and I thought it was a good choice on varying perspectives by the filmmakers.
The last small detail that I admired was the fact that this project was possible because of the power of the internet. Even during the credits it was very apparent that the actual people who worked on the film was relatively small, but the special thanks went on and on and probably took up most of the credits, and I can only suspect that all of those people in the special thanks were people who donated to the project’s KickStarter page. The fact that such a great piece of insight and art can be funded by the generosity and power of people on the internet is very inspiring, especially so for a fledgeling and amateur film group like ourselves. I was also pleased to know that one out of the two people who directed the film is a female, which it seems to me is an underrepresented group in both the film making and gaming worlds. But again, maybe I only notice this because we are a group of girls in the film making and gaming worlds. Either way, kudos to you and your partner for a job well done.
Now, aside from the small and kind of “exterior” details that I admired about the film, definitely what I thought to be the most interesting and my favorite part was mentioned both at the beginning and the end of the film—the passions and motives that all the designers had for their art form. I thought it was really great and refreshing to hear people talk about their creations and how much of themselves that they put into those products, and how the more personal things seem to be, the more thoroughly they are enjoyed and identified with by audiences. I thought that the emotions they talked about in separating an independent game with a big company game was an inspirational notion, but I also appreciated how they talked about the negative aspects of putting so much of yourself into a project—how if people insult a game they also insult the effort that the creator took to make it, how even positive reviews are not always what one needs to feel that sense of accomplishment, and especially how imbuing art with so much emotion for the sake of communication can also lead to miscommunication and loneliness if audiences never seem to understand or “get” it, as much as the creator hoped for. Those bits, for me at least, were the most interesting and best parts of the film, but just simply watching the struggles and stresses, yet eventual successes of indie game designers was also a fun thing to learn more about.
I’m not going to rate this documentary because I don’t have a scale, and I don’t rate movies or anything really. I rank things, but I’ve never found ratings to ever be very useful. I will, however, recommend this film. And I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in art or video games. I watched it on Netflix Instant, but it is also available on their website here, http://buy.indiegamethemovie.com/