We've been beavering away on our animatics - moving storyboards with vocals attached, designed to tell us if our story works before we actually shoot it. They're a fairly major undertaking, but we think they're worth it in terms of prototyping the film - certainly, if we'd released a film based on the version of the script we originally wrote, no-one would have been very impressed!
So I showed our animatics to a couple of people (including anthonybailey of TOGLFaces and Quake done Quick fame) last night, and the results were very interesting. It seems that our changes and fixes have pretty much shored up the middle of the movie, to the extent that our Acts 2-5 need very little tweaking (Act 3, it seems, needs some Hot Explanation Action, but that was about it). However, our beginning and our end still need hacking, and quite badly.
Beginnings and ends are always a nightmare. In this case, too, our beginning is the point where we have to make a choice - are we going to try to appeal to the "mainstream", or just stick within a fantasy niche?
You see, there's a problem with beginnings, in that you have to give your audience time to relax and understand the world you've put them in, normally by immediately tying them into things that they'll intuitively understand and appreciate (for example, the start of Alien, where our crew get out of these strange pods, and immediately start talking commonplaces similar to truckers - something the audience can immediately identify with).
Now, we thought we'd done that already. However, we're underestimating how familiar we are with the fantasy genre - dark, medieval streets, guys in armour and so on are familiar to fantasy fans, but much more confusing for people who aren't into the genre. We had one person who watches fantasy-type TV, and one who doesn't, and the difference in reaction was quite marked.
And that extends throughout the whole film. For example, we use the word "Mage" fairly freely - however, a non-games, non-fantasy person won't know what that is!
So I guess our problem now is whether we decide to go back and re-work to make the film more accessible to non-fantasy people, or whether we stick to our genre guns, and that way get away with a lot less explanation and scene-setting.
We're opening the animatics up to comment from our wider review group in about an hour, so I'll be very interested to see what the results are.
It's a very exciting time for us - we'll be starting filming on the film proper in a couple of weeks, after literally years of pre-production. So expect lots of frothingly excited posts then.
In the meantime, I'll see some of you at the Machinima Film Festival, where I'll be showing the BloodSpell trailer, as well as appearing on a bunch of panels and talks (I'm really looking forward to the panel on the Machinima's Identity Crisis with Friederich Kirschner and Frank Dellario) . It should be a lot of fun!