- 96 min.
- Directed by: Lisanne Pajot & James Swirsky
- Music by: Jim Guthrie
- BlinkWorks, Flutter Media Production
“A touching and emotional tale that inspires!”
Just as in every industry, there are the big wigs and the basement junkies. One has money, backing, and employee numbers. While the other has personality, passion, and dreams. Indie Game: The Movie highlights three separate independent video game developers; Phil Fish (Fez), Edmund McMillan & Tommy Refenes (Super Meat Boy), and Jonathan Blow (Braid).
The tale is passionate, the stories are personal, their lives change forever right before your eyes.
The movie surrounds these four developers as they give their blood, sweat, tears, and lives to the creation of utmost emotional standards. I was shocked at not only how insane these people are and how fucking devoted they become. As a writer I admire the truest of artistic expression, and this film showed me the side of indie devs that I had never seen. You assume that these people put a lot into the art they make, but you don’t quite feel it until it’s placed right in front of you to see.
Edmund McMillan and Tommy Refenes both suffer through the development of Super Meat Boy in different ways. McMillan fights solitude as his biggest enemy, sitting in a room with a wife he loves and a relationship he can’t afford to have time for. Being a misunderstood child, McMillan shares a lot of insight on his sight as an artist and a game developer. Refenes, on the other hand, suffered through great depression and loneliness during the development cycle for SMB. Being from a different coast than McMillan, he displays numerous frustrations with desolation and development. Refenes also handled all contact with Microsoft on their release to the 360, turning his small connection with living people into a battle for proper representation with a multi-billion dollar organization.
Phil Fish fights long and hard over the 6 year development span for his brain child FEZ. Creating games since childhood, Fish has an eye for artistry and an extreme disorder for the fight to achieve perfection. Swimming in self doubt, Fish’s biggest issue in completing FEZ was his struggle to ignore the little issue. I believe he says that he completely scratched the whole game 3 times in it’s development cycle. Adding to the torture of self disintegration, Fish’s old partner hadn’t signed over complete rights making Fish only a slight beneficiary of his own hard work and dedication.
“In a world where the majority of video game titles are made by hundreds of people with hundred of million dollars, there is an community of video game designers doing it in a different way.
Indie Game: The Movie is about the underdogs of the video game world: the independent game developers. These developers make games with small teams on modest budgets. They sacrifice money, health, and sanity to make these works – games that, to them, are a deep form of personal expression.”
- Lisanne Pajot & James Swirsky, Directors
Jonathan Blow is the man everyone wants to be. The man who created Braid, became the developer for the highest rated game ever to hit the Xbox. Following extreme success, Blow becomes extremely depressed during his spiral from fame. Extremely harsh personal criticism takes a man from top of the indie world to the bottom of a pile of self loathing very quickly.
Over the course of the ninety-six minutes you are taken on a frustrating and overall utterly depressing trip through the years leading up to the release of Super Meat Boy, a postmortem of Braid, and the near failure of Fez.
If you ever wanted to see a documentary that will sway your opinion on us “Geeks”, and make you cry just based on shear emotion, Indie Game: The Movie is the film for you. Being a doc, the film boasts REAL people and REAL expression. The mood teeters on the edges of depression, insanity, suicide, and inspiration.
I can remember a moment where I needed to get up out of my seat and walk about the apartment for a little while just to get the depression out of my mind. I made a coffee, ate some cookies and all I could think about was “Fuck, this is sad.” and then it got extremely happy!
I was absolutely in love with this film from start to finish. There aren’t many documentary films out there that play this kind of style. I enjoy that during all of the developers interviews/opinions there wasn’t a “host” sitting there asking questions. It really helps make the viewer feel a part of the journey. There was a few moments where a couple of questions were belted out during Phil’s stint at PAX East, but I let it slide.
The coverage was beautiful, and it was spaced out between the three stories near perfectly. The music by Jim Guthrie is outstanding and I’ve already purchased the soundtrack.
While the subject matter is of extreme importance to me, this documentary would be enjoyable by any of those who love inspirational tales, great films, and real emotion. IGTM is a touching and emotional tale that inspires!
I believe that with movies such as this, the indie game scene will become more readily available in the press, which makes me happy. To get a glimpse into something that so few people will ever know is important and I feel that the directors really captured the essence of what the life of a real indie developer is. Indie Game: The Movie surprised everyone at the Sundance Film Festival and SXSW Festival, granting the team numerous awards and a spotlight to show off their amazing documentary. It’s been a while since I was this proud of something that comes out of our geek culture, but this is an outstanding achievement by two very skilled and adventurous film makers. This film is truly humbling.
- Shot sequences
- The developers are extremely interesting
- Inspiring, Insightful, and Indestructible
- Could have gotten happier sooner
- Would have like to have seen Fish after the Fez release
- No mention of McMillan/Refenes and Blow’s next games
- Could have been longer
- Small theatrical release