I took some time out yesterday morning to watch Indie Game, The Movie. To be honest, I started watching it while eating breakfast, and I had intended to get up and do the dishes while I continued watching it, but it completely sucked me in, and I spent the majority of my morning on the couch. This is an outstanding film, but first, a little background.
I seem to be talking about Kickstarter quite a bit lately. Well, here we go again. The film’s producers, James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot, reached their goal of $15,000 in only 48 hours. After two months, they had raised $23,341 from 297 backers. That was in July of 2010. During the following two years, they shot over 300 hours of footage, and in January, 2012, they won Best Editing within the Sundance World Cinema Documentary Competition. I only learned of the film a few months ago myself when they started taking pre-orders. Indie Game released on June 12th.
Here’s the description of the film from the Sundance Film Festival:
With the twenty-first century comes a new breed of struggling independent artist: the indie game designer. Refusing to toil for major developers, these innovators independently conceive, design, and program their distinctly personal games in the hope that they, too, may find success.
After two years of painstaking work, designer Edmund McMillen and programmer Tommy Refenes await the release of their first major game for Xbox, Super Meat Boy—the adventures of a skinless boy in search of his girlfriend, who is made of bandages. At PAX, a major video-game expo, developer Phil Fish unveils his highly anticipated, four-years-in-the-making FEZ. Jonathan Blow considers beginning a new game after creating Braid, one of the highest-rated games of all time.
First-time filmmaking duo Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky capture the emotional journey of these meticulously obsessive artists who devote their lives to their interactive art. Four developers, three games, and one ultimate goal— to express oneself through a video game.
The film gives a fly-on-the-wall view into the realities of independent game development while telling very personal stories about the people involved. It had me routing for their success, dreading their possible failure, and fantasizing about throwing my career away to gamble on my own FEZ-equivalent (as if I have any knowledge about how to program a game).
If you are interested in game design, independent development, or just love documentaries, I highly recommend it. It’s available from their website, as well as on Steam and the iTunes store.