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On Your Radar: Indie Game:The Movie
by Karen Pecota

Documentary filmmakers Lisanne Pajot and James Swinsky follow four indie video game developers and their specialized interactive art form in Indie Game: The Movie. Intelligent, savvy and passionate, these video game designers devote their lives to perfecting their product. As top artists in creative design, they share a common goal--to be successful with their unique designs, obtain a paten and avoid being overrun by big corporations.

The key players for Indie Game: The Movie, Tommy Refenes and Edmund McMillen worked together for two years using their expertise as a computer programmer and designer on a game for Xbox called Super Meat Boy. In the making of this documentary they were waiting for the release of Super Meat Boy, their first major game. A commendable reward for their hard work! Phil Fish has been perfecting his game called Fez for four years that he unveils at a major video game expo called PAX. Jonathan Blow is on the verge of a new creation after the development of his game Braid, known to be one of the highest-rated games of all time. In reality these men are known as the underdogs. They sacrifice money, health, relationships and sanity to make a game that would be successful.

Collectively these four innovators use the art of video game design to express themselves. The unique art form calls for them to work independently for hours on end in very small quarters (a bedroom, apartment or office) to conceive, design, and program a workable product that is marketable. Their own passion to play the games is a driving force to succeed. Yikes! Is it worth it? This is what Indie Game: The Movie explores.

The hours, days, and years of intense calculating and recalculating for precision and fun is beyond comprehension for a novice. The process is usually done alone while in hibernation mode in their small creative space. But, there is one stage in the development process when they lean into millions of cyberspace communication and practice partners who are available to assist their endeavors. This is a pretty cool phase! At this point, collaboration is a key to their success and knowing how to balance the right amount of partnership with vulnerability in order to protect their investment, and not give out every detail of their unique product. It’s tricky but necessary for helpful critique.

The process to market their product is a whole different ballgame but just as important as their design. Who do they trust? The designers find out that this is not an easy question to answer. They must rely on a variety of connections and research for their answer. Ultimately it will come in due time but only when their product is perfected.

Innovation is not only for the designers who are featured in this documentary but also for the filmmakers. Did you know that in order to get this film project made, the directors engaged in implementing a Kickstarter fundraising campaign that became an overwhelmingly successful with an online buzz and support base. It was truly the online community that made this film happen in solidarity to support four colleagues and their painstaking hours of hard work to stay true to their craft as an independent artist.

The film is dedicated to three women of influence: Mary Guerts, Cecile Pajot and Patti Simmons.