Local filmmakers’ documentary reveals the reality of creating fantasy


Video games are challenging.

They’re difficult to make because they are hard to finance, demanding of personal time and money, and once released, there is virtually no guarantee that anyone else will feel the same way about the game that the creator does.

This uncertainty is what faces designers Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, who are creating Super Meat Boy. Three years of development and broken business relationships are plaguing Phil Fish (pictured), the designer of the game Fez. Offering his own insight from a place of acclaim and misconception of the gaming world is Jonathan Blow, designer of Braid.

Indie Game: The Movie, a documentary from local filmmakers Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky, shows the viewer what life is like behind the pixels and mayhem on screen.

Indie Game does an excellent job with set-up. Each designer is shown intimately, with joys and anxieties all displayed. Designing is “the most effective way to express myself,” says Tommy. Without having the money or control of an industry company, creative freedom is possible.

Phil, the perfectionist designing Fez, has worked on his game since 2008. While fans can be vicious with their clamouring for the game, stamping impatiently, Phil is immersed in making the best possible product. He wants to make “a nice place to spend time in.”

Besides immersing the audience in the lives of these people, Pajot and Swirsky give new life to the documentary format. The establishing and location shots are beautifully delivered. Effort has been put to draw the camera slowly across landscape and interview alike, leaving a dynamic and rich viewing experience.

Each designer has put their heart into their work, as well as the directors of this doc.

With such commitment to an experience, to an interactive environment, one can’t help but admire the subjects’ dedication to their art.

This is doc is certainly a nice place to spend time in.

Published in Volume 66, Number 28 of The Uniter (June 27, 2012)

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