‘Indie Game: The Movie’ is a fascinating look at the creative obsession with video games

indie game the movie

Indie Game: The Movie
Directed by: James Swirsky, Lisanne Pajot
Written by:  James Swirsky, Lisanne Pajot
Starring: Edmund McMillen, Tommy Refenes, Phil Fish, Jonathan Blow
USA, 2012

With the documentary rooted as independent as its subjects, Indie Game: The Movie started as a Kickstarter project and went all the way to Sundance in 2012, with aspirations gripping the palms of Swirsky and Pajot’s hands. The film primarily follows two indie game projects, Super Meat Boy and Fez, as their creators struggle through video game development, from their highest highs to their lowest lows. In between their stories, time with Jonathan Blow of Braid is spent to emphasize how life after success isn’t always what its cracked up to be. Blow talks about being confused for months after Braid came out, because many people simply took the game for face value without appreciating the plot nuances articulated in painstaking detail by its creator for years on end.

Indie Game: The Movie is an independent revolution. The documentary taps into the joys and tears that make the notion of independence both fearful and rewarding. What meshes everything together is the two developers of Super Meat Boy, Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes. The film opens with their launch day on Xbox Live, only to have the game be missing from the stores homepage. Phil Fish, designer of the long awaited Fez, likewise gives us a look into the inside realm of independent game development, with his manic outbreaks arising during his first public showing at PAX East.

In the case of Indie Game: The Movie, it shares a similar limelight with independent gaming, as the filmmakers take a big risk with time, money, and commitment on a film that could have lead to nothing. Thankfully, the stories in the film seem to end very well for our developers and directors. In the end, Indie Game: The Movie leaves the audience with an infectious spread of passion and pride. If you are creative, this film will surely become one of your favorite documentaries of all time.

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Chris Clemente is a senior web and graphic designer located in Upstate New York. While contributing his artistic talent to Sound on Sight, Chris also enjoys writing articles and reviews as often as he can. When unshackled from the chains under his desk, you can find Chris lurking around the NYC film festival circuits, like Tribeca and NYFF at Lincoln Center. His brain may be filled with code, but the love for film (especially independent film) bleeds deep within his heart. Chris hosts the "Movie Lovers Podcast" with his wife Katherine, where they discuss and debate film of all types. You can also find Chris on twitter (@_FilmsWeWatched), giving short "tweeviews" on films he recently watched. Some of Chris' favorite directors include Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock.