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Some thoughts about Creative Freedom

This is my first post here on the machiniplex blog and as such it seemed appropriate to share this, it's earliest examples of animation, dating back to 3200BC.

A few months ago, as I was working on my current machinima project (an original sci-fi series), a question popped into my head, “Wouldn't it be great if the BBC or some other studio picked this up and broadcast it?” and as I continued, I thought it over and came to my answer. No.

Sure, it would be nice to have an easier time casting the characters, being able to hire a dedicated team of 3d modelers to create more custom content than I'm able to produce myself, having a budget so I'm able to actually pay the people who contribute their voices and other talents, the list goes on.

Those are all good things and I'd still like to be able to do them but there's an something important about producing the series the way I am. There's nobody telling me to change this or that for whatever reasons, no threat of cancellation, no scheduling decisions out of my control. I'm able to make the series, tell the stories and release them as I see fit. Of course there are limitations with this approach but nothing that prevents me from carrying on with the project.

A web series I've been following is The Guild. It's not machinima but it's a good example of a show created without studio involvement. Several attempts to pitch the series were made but it was ultimately rejected. My understanding is the people approached didn't quite get the gamer humour and thought it wouldn't draw a big enough audience on television.

That didn't stop the series creator, Felicia Day. She went ahead and produced it anyway, self funding the first few episodes and the others with fan donations. I think it's great to see initiative like that and it's rather inspiring. The show has quite a big fan base now, with episode views in the hundreds of thousands.

That leads to another great thing about to this independent web based method of telling stories and film making, that's being able to interact directly with the audience. Executive Producers for television shows probably don't have the time to take a good look at what the fans are saying online, let alone post on forums and reply to comments. In fact, only one person who has filled that role comes to mind, J. Michael Straczynski who created Babylon 5. From the early planning stages to the present day, he has maintained a presence on Usenet where he discussed how the show was developing and even though it's been over for many years, he posts about his current projects.

I'm sure just about everyone who has made and released machinima has had some kind of online feedback. It's all part of the fun to know that after the time and effort you put into creating something, people are finding it, watching it and getting something from it. In some cases, even inspiring them to start working on their own videos (machinima or otherwise).

While this pretty much covers everything I had to say, I'd be interested to hear what other people think of all this. Any good thoughts or stories? Please share.

1st Annual "MachinExpo" Set to Inspire and Inform in Montreal

The 1st Annual International Machinima Expo, now in the planning stages, is set to debut November 7-9, 2008, in Montreal, Quebec as part of Canada's largest game industry event, Festival Arcadia 2008. A combined effort from Machiniplex and the Machinima Roadshow, the "MachinExpo" is expecting to be the biggest exposition of machinima films, filmmakers, tools and techniques in the world with an expected audience of 20,000 in attendance at Festival Arcadia.

MachinExpo will consist of live "hands-on" machinima workshops, continuous international machinima film screenings, truly LIVE Machiniplex premieres, a keynote speaker, discussions and panels, machinima software presentations, and awards for selected submissions. We are also planning a few special surprises.

In addition to great content relevant to the machinima community, MachinExpo offers three days of non-stop gaming and contests at the Festival Arcadia, a multi-band dance party on Saturday night, the exciting international city of Montreal, a Machinima community exclusive event, and much, much more.

Events and panels are currently in the development stages. MachinExpo will announce its web site shortly. In the meantime you can contact the program directors below for more information.

Ricky Grove at grovericky[at]gmail
Ingrid Moon at hockeygoon[at]gmail