Ego Central to Machinima Filmmaker Ken Thain

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It Movied!

I was just going to pop on here to say a quick word but found the following I wrote a few weeks back. So I'll let it out even though I didn't follow the thought through. It's a voice though. And interesting enough, this self reflection became the quiet before a creative storm.

Ahh man, whats that post below say? November 2007? Sad, sad. I've been struggling a bit with my place in 'things'. 2007 was pretty much a blur with the development of Mass Effect (mini interview round-up GameDev, MTV and VFXWorld) and shortly after I was done I moved over to Dragon Age to see this project through to the store shelves. Dragon Age is being built from the ground up with BioWare's own in house engine so its been exciting overseeing the development of the machinima tools we need to create cool interactive cinematics for this game.

Also, along with these huge game projects I've been fortunate to travel to 2 other game studios, Pandemic LA and EA LA, to consult on some upcoming titles. With being a cinematic designer with BioWare, a company that is focused on story based games and are pushing digital acting as a major component of storytelling, I've been able to provide valuable feedback into how other studio's are tackling this technology. The latest trip to EA LA was for one of Spielberg's upcoming projects and I can't lie, it was pretty damn cool. And being that close and under the hood of a Spielberg project was a pretty fantastic feeling.

I often have to personally reflect and appreciate the journey I've had from humble machinima hobbiest to consulting on such a major game title (not to mention overseeing a portion of some kick ass AAA titles). How the fuck did I stumble into this good fortune I often ask myself. The answer is simple. Passion, determination and honest hard work. A long while back in my personal studies of Joseph Campbell the one statement that stuck out for me and has been a somewhat mantra is 'Follow your bliss". It seems straight forward enough, almost too straight forward. Life can't be that easy. The key word here being 'bliss' and knowing what that is. That is a big part of the journey, but once your eye is on the ball it seems things just fall into place. I can only speak for me of course, but this is my experience.

Things are in a place right now, as chaotic and concerning some social and global situations are, that its possible to focus full time, and get paid for, producing art (and yes that statement translates to games = art, welcome to the new millennium). It's easy to take this for granted but its like when something good happens and your a little weary of loosing it. The world can change in a second and suddenly just feeding your family can be the most important thing in the world. So I often ask myself, what impact does what I do have on the world, on people? I wish I could make games for games sake, or make films for films sake, but eventually, you have to start looking at what your doing, how you are contributing to community, society, humanity, is something more than empty experiences or meaningless fodder. That's why Alex Chan's film created such huge waves, he took a medium, an art form, and created a message. Spoke to the world. And possibly, in some chaotic, untraceable way, made a difference.

I don't believe Alex Chan set out to do what he did. He was driven to speak to a condition, he was passionate in doing so and with a lot of hard work he created something he released into the social consciousness. Peter Rasmussen was a screenwriter and machinima filmmaker who recently passed away. I had never met Peter but I knew of him. His machinima productions stood out. They were professional, deep and reflective. And I think in some chaotic, untraceable way, Peter made a difference in the world too. Just simply by creating and contributing to the community.

I don't think one has to be conscious in orchestrating changes into our social consciousness, but sometimes just saying something... anything.. you are a voice. And I think by following your bliss, that voice becomes louder and more meaningful to others.

And based on the entries I'm reviewing for the 2008 Online Machinima Film Festival (OMFF) Machinima is becoming a very loud megaphone. :)

So it happens shortly after writing the above I received some clarity of mind and have something pretty fantastic brewing in my spare time. It will be many months before I'll be able to share, but sharing is a main part of the plan, thanks mdot. Watch This Space.

Also, I've been missing out on some great machinima community events run by Machiniplex and Overman. I PROMISE I'll make it to one very, very soon.