Monday, February 7, 2011

Journey to the Machinima Forest.

Facebook has unfolded a world of collaboration heretofore undreamed of even by my enormous brain and limitless imagination. But enough of my humility...

Sometime in 2010, a man who goes by the monicker "Celestial Elf" and I became Facebook friends. I quickly became impressed with his "machinma" films, short features utilizing available free software and music to create sweeping visuals and quirky tales. It seemed a perfect format for a guy like me and so after a few months of back and forth brainstorming, Elf and I hit upon a project that sounded like something we both wanted to do.


Titled "The Gift," this first script purported to tell the "real story" about how the so-called missing links came to our world and their role in an ancient alien agenda, my alliteration notwithstanding. It premiered to the top spot on YouTube the day it was posted and has received overwhelmingly positive reviews.

I would have been fine with moving on to a new project but since "The Gift" ended with a cliffhanger, Elf insisted we complete the saga. So, I did what any halfway decent scriptwriter would do...I wrote a ridiculously bloated epic that basically repeated the first installment with more blood and explosions. Hey, I'm an American, what do you expect?

Elf liked the script but nicely told me there was no way in hell the machinima format would allow him to make such a film. Besides, we'd discussed doing a follow-up as a sort of urban myth parody and that was infinitely more attainable within the constrains of what he had available. So, I wrote the story of two inept hunters in Northern Michigan and their attempts to catch the legendary Bigfoot. One of the hunters is snatched and taken back to Bigfoot's cave, where the creature basically recaps the story of part one with a somber tone, alluding to the fact that he won't be around much longer.

Elf liked that draft but was afraid my portrayal of the hunters would offend rednecks. Okay, he didn't say it that way but it's my blog, dammit. Then he told me he wanted to do an allegorical Vietnam story in the vein of "The Deerhunter." Briefly wodnering if he'd gone insane, I read through his comments and rapidly reached the conclusion he was some sort of mad genuis. I rewrote it, still not enirely convinced, until it hit me that the first installment was really about a group of creatures that go to war for what they think is a noble reason and were stabbed in the back as a result.

Suddenly Elf's Vietnam allegory made sense. Feeling freer to create my own thing, I decided Bigfoot should have a rambling monologue not unlike Marlon Brando's in "Apocalypse Now." I forgot I would have to record my voice delivering it.

I have a crappy, old computer and sometimes it acts like a person that doesn't want to cooperate. Uploading the site to record my voice wasn't too difficult but sending it was, as I waited over an hour for the attachment to complete. Growling with frustration, I left the house in the middle of a snowstorm that accumulated nearly six inches in two hours, drove to the library and discovered the file was too big to email. Elf suggested I upload it to a different site. All was well and he called my voice acting "brilliant," yet another moment that caused me to doubt his sanity. But who cared? I was done and headed home!

Then Elf emailed me and said the final lines were not on the file I sent him. The library was now closed and my car decided to gush fluids all over the snow. It took me another hour of off and on trying to send the rest. He loved it as well and thanked me for my steadfast dedication to my art. I think I was just really pissed and refused to let a crappy weekend dominate me.

Elf got the finished product completed and posted faster than I thought possible and I couldn't be happier with the end result.

View it here.


celestial elf said...

Really enjoy working with you Chris, and am definitely looking forward to the full version Sci-Fi epic of these adventures on my bookshelf a soon as you have the time to write them :D

c nadeau said...

AAAAGGGGHHHH! You did it again. Now the ideas are in my brain once more!