Yesterday for the last day of ITP’s 4-in-4, Mike Cohen, David Phillips, Spike McCue, Liza Singer and I sweded The Incident. “Sweded The Incident,” of course, when written out makes about as much sense as “Yahoo Serious Festival”, but let me explain what that means.
“Sweding” is a style of lo-fi recreation of movies that was invented by Michel Gondry for his film, Be Kind Rewind. Check out Gondry’s original explanatory video, how to swede:
The basic idea of sweding is that you make your own version of an existing movie using whatever you have around. There are a ton of them on YouTube. It’s clearly a popular high school video class assignment. The thing that’s great about sweded movies is that since we all know the original movie being sweded, it’s easy to tell what’s supposed to be happening even when the camera work is dim and unclear, the actors are babbling near-incoherently, the props and costumes are made of garbage, etc. Your brain pretty much fills in the gaps from memory. It’s the same thing that makes Star Wars Uncut work.
One thing that both Mike and I love is The Incident, a retro 8-bit style iPhone game from Neven Mrgan and Matt Comi at Big Bucket Software. In The Incident you play Frank, an ordinary seeming guy in a suit who begins to have a very bad day when every object in the world mysteriously starts falling out of the sky:
We’d never seen anyone swede an iphone game and we thought this might be a perfect candidate. So, we recruited a group of fellow ITPers and we were off. Here’s the result (more about the making below):
We had a couple of basic planning meetings and had gathered cardboard around the floor for a few days. Then yesterday we met at ITP around 11 and started clearing out the furniture from a classroom. We made a quick supply run to K-Mart and then started cutting out cardboard. We focused on memorable elements from the game the balloons, the taxi cab, the flux capacitor, the monolith, etc. Once we’d built some of those we basically moved on to trying to build any object we could think of.
The whole process was frantic and fun. Then, around 4pm, we started shooting. Mike had volunteered to play Frank, the main character of the game and so he changed into his suit. He has a beard, so we thought (after I failed to convince him to shave for the project) that it would be a nice reference to Beard Mode in the game, which I won’t explain here for fear of spoilers.
We’d figured out before hand that we wanted to frame the video by having it appear to take place within an iphone. We spent the first while of the shoot trying to work out the details of the opening credit and the transition into the phone. Once we finally got that working the rest of the shoot went fast and was chaotic fun.
One of the hardest parts was actually playing the game long enough to achieve the Death by Monolith to match the footage we’d shot. We almost gave up a couple of times before I got it by luck, when I was barely looking at the phone.
We finished shooting around 6 or 7 and then Mike and I spent another few hours working on it, him recording the music and sound effects, me doing the editing. We finished around midnight and uploaded it. It was a classic ITP day: 14 hours of crazy group work doing silly things that take you out of your element all to bring a totally goofy fun vision to life with each person pushing the group to take the idea even further.
Neven and Matt helped spread the word today and we’ve gotten lots of nice comments and even some coverage on Game Set Watch.