"So...what’s up with the SNES controller? They know that’s not indie right?"
from the film get posted elsewhere on the Internet, invariably the
comment thread gravitates towards the fact that we prominently feature a
Super Nintendo Controller, hanging from power lines and twisting in the
wind (people also seem enamoured by the display of varying facial hair,
but that’s a different post :)
We thought we take a moment to tell the story of how a dangling SNES controller kinda accidentally became the defacto image for the film.
Early in 2010, in our hometown of Winnipeg, we were walking down a backalley shortcut to grab breakfast. In the alley, we came across a couple of hanging Nintendo controllers, thrown up on power lines in the manner of old sneakers. We immediately recognized it as a rather unique and striking image.
In our heads we imagined a scenario of
bored 11 year old creating a kind of accidental 8-bit (or in this case
16) graffiti/public art. It could easily been a set of 20 somethings on
their way to the beer vendor. But in our mind, it was something a
little more magical.
Around this time, we were strongly
considering, but hadn’t made a decision, doing Indie Game: The Movie.
But, we were close enough to almost doing it that James came back later
that day and filmed some B-roll of the hanging controllers just in case
it might be useful in some way.
Fast forward a couple months, and we're editing together our first ‘proof of concept video’ (Edmund’s
Aether video). We needed some nice visuals to open the piece with, and
we needed to be able to place a bit of a text-based preamble on. The
hanging SNES controller fit the bill perfectly.
At the time, it was actually doubly
appropriate. In an earlier iteration of the video, Edmund discusses how
he was a SNES fanboy growing up. So, the nostalgic imagery of
sneaker-like hanging discarded controller was unbelievable spot on. In
the end, that section of the video was cut, but we still enjoyed the
imagery and what it could mean in the context of a film about
More Than a Pretty Face?
that’s why we left it in. Of course, it’s a lovely, nicely iconic bit
of footage, but the image also has a some rather nice subtexts to it.
The type of stuff that film essays delight in crafting a paragraph or
two about. Without going into too much detail, we rather enjoy the
references to nostalgia and childhood inspiration - so it works on that
level. Also, if one were so inclined, one could read into the image a
pseudo-statement about discarded technology/discarded gatekeepers and
how less reliant independent developers are on the big players than they
So, the image has those types of fun angles going on with it. Which is one of the reasons we kept it for so long.
reason the hanging controller became the image most associated with our
film, and let this be a lesson to anyone considering an
open-development like project, is because that’s what we had when the
Internet found us.
The film has been really fortunate to
receive a good amount of press coverage over the course of its
development, and in each post, the hanging controller was
(understandably) popping up again and again. It wasn’t our ideal image
(we hadn’t figured that out yet), but it was the image we had at the
time. And before we knew it, the hanging controller was indeed the icon
for Indie Game: The Movie. A quick google image search kinda confirmed this for us.
of the project has been like this - a process of accidents, discovery
and going with various flows. You try something and it sticks, You meet
someone by chance, and they become the person you follow for a year.
You stare at 300 hours of footage, and work bits and pieces until the real story emerges.
The hanging controller is a microcosm of
our experience with this film. Taking interest in something beautiful
while heading somewhere else....
-James (& Lisanne)
p.s. Fun little aside: Often people
say we should have used a NES controller instead, as that is much more
indie-centric. Well, there indeed was a NES controller hanging. But
sadly, it’s wasn’t hanging nearly as artfully. What can we say, it just
didn’t ‘bring it’ to the shoot that day and wasn’t giving the camera
good face. See for yourself...
(Poor show indeed. No working the
angles. No smizing. If this were ANTM, the Jays would’ve sent her
packing after the first week....Reality TV is the shameful indulgence of
many doc folks...er...research, yeah, research)