How would you like to make any movie that comes to mind, to tell any story whatsoever, to do this anytime, make a movie of any length, with any detail, and be able to do that for extremely little money?
On our part, when we want to write an essay, we start a word processor on a computer and start typing. With that in mind, the project we work on---in between everything else we do---has two parts: A) developing a "word processor" system of filmmaking---or at least the documentation for what steps to follow, with options---based on a video game engine and assorted other software packages, where we then B) crank out all the movies we can think of. We have some original project ideas, and we have an even larger set of story adaptations that we think would made really good movies. Increasing skill and refinement from all that filmmaking will then return back to A), and then back across to B), each reinforcing and adding to the other. Additionally, an integral part of A) will create C), having and maintaining such a level of documentation that anyone else can assimilate and make use of these methods which themselves will have ongoing active demonstration and development as we continue with A) and B).
The ongoing focus is and will remain to fixate on video game software based computer animated narrative movies, and perhaps documentary movies, all made absolutely inexpensively, quickly, absolutely really well, and totally prolifically. When someone comes in and complains of the limitations of the particular form, Too bad. You're a storyteller dammit, exceed the form.
And at the moment, for the demo part of the short explanation version, drop to the bottom of this page for a collection of video files currently being used for showing off what people have done in gaming visual execution---and what these files show is not even theoretical development, these video clips show what people are doing currently that demonstrates video execution capability . . . and currently all that we're seeing done with this software and these possibilities is little more than See me play with special effects and See me playing a game, where what can also be done is to make any movie that comes to mind, to tell any story whatsoever, to do this anytime, a movie of any length, with any detail, and be able to do that for extremely little money.
Now: in all of this proposal to make movies in a better and inexpensive way, is a profit guaranteed? Oh Hell no---because audience response can never be guaranteed, and barely predicted. Is such uncertainty a reason to not bother? Again, Oh Hell No, because this method gives the ability to focus on getting stories told in very inexpensive movies, rather than always having to make random pointless movie production deals.
How would you like to make any movie that comes to mind, anytime, of any length, with any detail?
For years, that's been rather difficult. What if you don't have or want to spend millions of dollars just on one movie alone? What if you don't want to spend an entire life on just one movie?
Yes there have been super 8 cameras, then the assorted video cameras, and lately full motion digital recording is turning up everywhere.
But what if you want more than just stupid skateboard tricks on YouTube?
What if you want the ultimate bully pulpit, the way to present any idea, with any subtlety, setting and resetting however you want or need, and doing all that with relative ease, doing far more than the average Hollywood production, for a fraction of the effort and also a fraction of the cost?
How would you like to have and use a truly large scale and completely focused personal loudspeaker?
What if you want to take any idea and play with it, show kids playing in your neighborhood, mix vaudeville with the Vietnam War, recreate San Francisco's Japantown as it was in the 1960s and 1970s, explore British economics, have an elephant slip on a banana peel, stage the ultimate murder mystery dinner, get a movie viewer to have . . .
. . . Touched him. Saw her. Towers of death and silence. Angels of fire and ice. Saw Alexander. . . covered with honey and beeswax in his tomb. Felt the flowers growing over me. Oh, a man must have vision. How else could an English judge, and peer of the realm . . . take moonlit trips to Marrakesh and Ponders End? See six vestal virgins smoking cigars? Moses in bedroom slippers? Naked bosoms floating past Formosa? ---Peter Barnes, The Ruling Class
The issue is communication and making that happen, and we of the Collective MacAvity are working on this, incrementally, and do rather look forward to doing all of the above ourselves. We might even do a staging of Peter Barnes' The Ruling Class, which was quoted above. But then again Peter O'Toole did rather do the definitive version didn't he.
When considering using filmmaking as a method of communication, arguably a biggest communication megaphone in American society in the early 21st century consists of Hollywood and the Hollywood based show business in general. At the same time though, the Hollywood and Hollywood based show business system also has an equally major problem of complexity, slow reaction time, and too many cooks able to piss in the soup.
Among other things: Evidence of the pressure studios are imposing on big-name producers is everywhere. Jerry Bruckheimer just underwent what he described to THR as the most difficult negotiation of his career with Disney to launch The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer of Imagine have seen their rich deal at Universal cut back and the studio pull the plug on their ambitious fantasy Western The Dark Tower, based on a series of books by Stephen King. A-list producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy just departed from Sony after two years without a green light. Even the industry's ultimate 800-pound gorilla, Steven Spielberg, has had struggles raising money.
How much time, effort, and money would be required to make a feature movie for each play by William Shakespeare? 38 plays, 38 casts, all the costuming, all the sets, all the support crew, the lighting, the makeup, the cameras, the rehearsals. Now, imagine doing all that with almost as much ease as writing about it. Imagine using a computer to build a 3D image and model of the inside of a box. There's your set. Imagine using a computer to build a 3D head, body, arms and legs, and give them motion and speech. There's your actor, in full costume, with dialogue. Imagine using the computer to record what that actor does and says on that set. There's your movie.
Next, repeat that 37 more times. There's the 38 movies of the complete plays of Shakespeare.
As an example of relative immense ease in making movies, let's have a look at two extremes; the building of an entire computer video game, and the making of a conventional live action movie.
The building of a video game requires mapping out and assembling all the features and actions of all the possible occurrences that may turn up in that video game. Such a production does indeed involve a lot of animators, writers, artists, programmers, actors, all the company infrastructure to support all that, and so forth for many pages. On an other hand, when the sole interest in the video game engine becomes making a movie, the focus absolutely narrows and the complexity and required time absolutely drops. Only the basic virtual set to film a scene becomes needed, with the basic operational features to create and record that scene, and then one or one's team moves on.
When making a conventional movie, the issues include the creation and care and maintenance of costumes, lighting rentals, camera rentals, insurance, negotiating with assorted civic authorities, the logistics of all that crew and cast, and enough other features to get an entire college degree on the subject. When creating a movie using video game software, one needs the gaming software, a game quality computer to build with, software for outside additions, sound engineering, editing and distribution production which can occur on the same computer, a script, the money to pay and house the filmmaker, and finally time just sitting and working. Of time required, to cite just one issue of conventional filmmaking, one loses none of the time that the conventional variety uses up waiting for rain to either start or stop.
The answer we propose to this communications issue is to use current and developing video game technology, the internet, and low cost DVD and other production channels to allow a small team, or several teams, with a really big message, to make a lot of varied movies rather quickly and for a long time.
The ongoing focus for this answer is and will remain to fixate on video game software based computer animated narrative movies, and perhaps documentary movies, all made absolutely inexpensively, quickly, absolutely really well, and totally prolifically.
Our intent is make movies, or particularly, tell stories while making pretty pictures, or not so pretty pictures, and will do such using this method.
This proposed solution actively develops and maintains a filmmaking and distribution system which begins and remains fast, flexible, and relatively cheap, one that has ongoing innovation built in as a feature, one designed to hand to absolutely anyone to use, one that then gets used to crank out movie after movie after movie.
At that point, the question of communicating a message gets reduced to developing the material to pump through this production engine.
Of course, one response to such use of video game software for making movies is "But this looks like a bunch of video game characters!!" The easy two part answer to this objection gives the overall answer: "Think puppet theatre." The two parts that make up this answer consist of writing and of visual quality. Of writing, as always the most important issue, when you have no story, you have no movie. Tell the story well, and no one cares how the movie got made. Of visual quality, absolutely anything using the game engine can get made and seen, where we've already noted that anything not built into the standard software can get created externally and imported. When someone comes in and complains of the limitations of the particular form, Too bad. You're a storyteller dammit, exceed the form.
On our part, we finally noticed that video game image and movement quality have increased to such a level that most current games effectively became movies themselves. We don't play video games, from general lack of interest, but some people we have worked with do. When we asked them for suggestions, we got very emphatically pointed at a game series called Unreal Tournament and the software that is used to create that game and many others, software called the Unreal Engine. Since that time, we have run across other video game engines of which there are indeed one or two at the moment.
We currently work on this solution on our own and will develop it in enough time because we will consist of one of those teams, or at least the core of one, and we will crank out a variety of movies.
To decrease that development time, getting support and assistance as needed will let us do more sooner as we continue this research and start bringing out completed projects.
Now: in all of this proposal to make movies in a better and inexpensive way, is a profit guaranteed? Oh Hell no---because audience response can never be guaranteed, and barely predicted. Is such uncertainty a reason to not bother? Again, Oh Hell No, because this method gives the ability to focus on getting stories told in movies, not having to make random pointless movie production deals.
First off, there are two very simple questions for anyone whosoever to answer.
One; Can you drive a car safely and reliably through standard traffic conditions without crashing it?
Two; Can you reliably handle your own finances over time without going bankrupt?
If the answers are Yes and Yes, then Yes you can learn to make a movie with video game software---because you don't have to make the software, the software already exists, where there can be some slight tweaking here and there, but that slight tweaking can be like coordinating a complicated budget or dealing with rush hour traffic during a massive thunderstorm, every once in awhile.
There are three axioms that make this concept plausible. These have no set order or importance, all three are equally linked and ranked.
A) When someone's made a nice bowl of soup, don't piss in the soup. When someone's written a really good novel or a short story and it's a major success, when adapting to movie Leave The Story Alone. Don't add scenes. Don't add random characters. Don't screw with the ending because some other story needs to be mixed in, because it doesn't. Just make the movie, and everyone will cheer at the sheer originality.
B) Henry Ford did not invent the automobile. He did invent the Ford Motor Company, and did a really good job making a lot of cars. Roger Corman did not invent the movie. He did take the basic movie making techniques and proceed to crank out movie after movie, non stop and very quickly, and basically make a comfortable profit on every movie, or at least evidently nearly every movie.
C1) Movie making does not require a camera.
C2) Computer animated movies do not have to be from Pixar and Dreamworks.
C3) Video game software does not need to make a video game.
On our part, when we want to write an essay, we start a word processor on a computer and start typing. With that in mind, the project we work on---in between everything else we do---has two parts: A) assembling and then maintaining the documentation for a "word processor" method of filmmaking based on a video game engine and assorted other software packages, where we then B) crank out all the movies we can think of. We have some original project ideas, and we have an even larger set of story adaptations that we think would made really good movies. Increasing skill and refinement from all that filmmaking will then return back to A), and then back across to B), each reinforcing and adding to the other. Additionally, an integral part of A) will create C), having and maintaining such a level of documentation that anyone else can assimilate and make use of these methods which themselves will have ongoing active demonstration and development as we continue with A) and B).
Of this process, our commentary so far exists at http://watcherpoint.com Yes, when you look at all the aliases on the site, our all time favorite film producer remains Irving Thalberg, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irving_Thalberg "While he was alive, he refused to allow his own name to appear in his films."---As Thalberg noted, the issue always remains to get the many movies made, not get stuck in just trying to make a single movie.
Keeping A) and B) in mind, and to outline the scale of possible projects, one of several of our project ideas does call for a film for each play by Shakespeare. In turn, A) and C) will stay as major as B), so we really do need to have projects to test by mixing them in with everything else that comes to mind. Remember the conventional film vs virtual film advantages noted above, especially for filming 38 plays in sequence while also making other movies---Our plan is to more or less interlace Shakespeare, followed by a mystery, followed by a comedy, followed by a drama, followed by a war movie, followed by Shakespeare, followed by, and so on---certainly variations will occur in the selection, but an ongoing and varying program will remain a primary intent. When we run out of Shakespeare, we'll swap something else in.
For distribution at this point in time, the internet has become ubiquitous as its own delivery platform. One can advertise through YouTube and Google. DVD production requires relatively little cost. Given enough interest, not only can one do a conventional theatrical filmmaking release through a standard theatre chain, more and more such releases have shifted to digital, which again greatly cuts the up front cost---And in North America alone, there are already over 16,000 digital projection theatres.
Once again, this system makes filmmaking so relatively easy that having a really good entertainment lawyer on retainer becomes one of the features.
As far as which of several varieties of game creation software that can be used in these ways, we of the Collective MacAvity are focusing on the Unreal Engine at https://www.unrealengine.com/what-is-unreal-engine-4, because it has a good track record, allows all sorts of individual item control, and the overall software is a single item that can be downloaded and installed locally at will.
For visual examples of what has been achieved with other gaming engines, see the following;
Next, to see what we describe as 100,000 bricks dancing like sprays of water, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3a6QxTt1isY and watch. After that, go play with any of the video clips to the right, where basically this is what the video game engineering results look like. Again, Never Mind How this is done, rather, look at the visual quality.
For a very, very fast overview of possible cost---mainly from dropping terms into Google---, consider the following, but also consider that this paper---and this general outline cost---is not the cost of merely one movie. This is the combined cost of as many movies that you, or you and a team, can make in as short a time as you wish to make those movies.
A middle to high end gaming quality computer: $4,000
Private small audio recording studio: $3,000---This being again, a very, very fast overview, but actually probably high priced estimate.
Gaming Software: $0 to ~$1,500, and even just a share of profits from a successful project.
3D modelling software: $0 to $4,000
Film production and editing software: ~$50 to ~$2,000
Altogether, very roughly, for $7,000 to $14,000 one can have and operate an entire film production system, and use that system to make many movies rather than just one movie. Now the nasty bit of reality, such as it is: You and anyone you work with still have to eat and have somewhere to live and where is that computer going to be located. The reality of this system is that the biggest ongoing cost is going to be paying you and other individuals and paying the entertainment lawyer. The next biggest required item becomes the movie script to make a movie, and having that script, and we of the Collective foresee no problem coming up with several hundred scripts . . . .
On our part, to keep the bills paid, we work full time doing other stuff. Personal research and projects thus have to get scheduled in among everything else, and we also keep having to stop and sleep now and then. Some of the items needed get expensive, and the paid work does get swamped, so on one hand what is needed can get paid for in time, but also that research winds up getting done intermittently.
James Cameron's Avatar cost somewhere in the range of $300 million for one single extensively computer animated movie. For the system outlined in this paper, even just a few hundred thousand could start an entire production system and fund it for rather a long time. Our ideal situation would get so much cash up front, and an entertainment lawyer on retainer, that we could disappear into a corner with notes and computer and crank out movies and not have to notice how bleak the economy and how to keep the bills paid. Considering a guaranteed audience for some projects---Shakespeare, to name just one---regardless of how bleak the economy, a series of well made but very inexpensive movies should manage a profit, so even an up front pile of cash could make money for an investor.
Robert Rodriguez made El Mariachi with $7,000, as he tells in his book Rebel Without A Crew. On an other hand, Rodriguez followed up with Desperado for a budget of about $7 million and Once Upon A Time In Mexico for about $29 million. By contrast, this proposal goes even further by staying with the video game engine as the ongoing tool and thus keeping the costs, and efforts needed, at a much greater minimum.
In turn, and completely independent of anyone's filmmaking, a video game engine company's R&D will continue to develop and upgrade to match greater and greater demand for greater and greater features and detail in video games---and this proposal expects to very easily piggyback upon those improvements to also create greater and greater subtlety for basically the same cost and return.
And with investment and support, the A) creation of that production system will get done a lot sooner than otherwise, and B) a lot of movies can get cranked out, and C) several teams of filmmakers can go out and about to beat the drum, tell the stories, play with all the ideas . . . . . .
We thank you for your time, and we look forward to hearing your reactions . . . .