Sorry about the radio silence there. Summary of reasons: fatigue and then a terrible cold. Feeling much better now. Anyway, on with the details.
I basically spent a month editing a cut of the movie for PAX East. This PAX Mix, which I mentioned before, was intended to be an introduction to what the final DVD will entail. I’d forgotten what a perfectionist I am about footage and editing, about all the little bits that put a movie together. It’s why the movie has been delayed, and it’s all on me. My hope, however, was that the audience seeing it would be happy with what they saw, and appreciate the work it took to put it there.
All told, the final render went on the CF card on Thursday, and I drove up to Boston, stuff in tow, preparing for a weekend at PAX East. I’d been to a few PAX Primes, so I knew a lot of the score, including to ask for a Bandland booth since it would get heavy traffic. (That’s what the “Bandland Presents” banner is, upstairs.
Also, this was the beginning of a culmination of four years of work, so proper dress was a requirement:
I attended an IF dinner on Thursday night, and that’s when it really became apparent for me, as well as a lot of other folks in the community, that this had, by dint of using my film as the stone in the stone soup, become the largest assembly of interactive fiction folks in history. Creators, players, and legends were going to assemble on PAX East, and make it something very, very special. There are better write-ups of the other IF stuff that happened at PAX, so I’m going to just list those at the end and leave the better writers to better write. For my own bit, I attended (and recorded) the other “official” IF panel at PAX East and made a number of stops by the IF Suite, a beautiful environment for learning and socializing put on by Andrew “Zarf” Plotkin. So rest assured, that part of things was a huge success.
But for me it was about my movie, and to that end, it was all about 9:30pm at the Naga Theater on Friday night.
A boatload of people were there from a lot of different parts of my life and IF history – besides about 20-25 interviewees from the film, we had Infocom alumni, bits of my family, my college film teacher (!) and an awful lot of fans. The room (which was smaller than I’d hoped it would be) neared 500 people in attendance:
Many, in fact, had to sit on the floor, something I am both embarrassed had to take place, and truly complimented that people stood up (sat down) for it. I’d reserved a space for the Infocom alumni I knew were showing up, as well as friends and family, and the place eventually was jam packed.
I kept the introduction short, just to let people know this was a 1 hour cut of the film, and while it was meant to be rather a good introduction and general overview (read: someone with a glancing care in the subject would be satisfied), the movie would be much longer, interactive, and have a lot more depth. While doing this, I looked like this anachronistic fellow:
There are reviews aplenty already, and I expect more. The cut had a few rough edges, mostly owed to the final cut not getting a test audience like I had had a few weeks earlier, but the whole thing was a lot more smooth thanks to the efforts of Rob Isaac, who worked as a spotter/checker for the cuts as they were complete, which helped me enormously in making sure stuff was appropriately contextual and clean.
I was surprised to find that people have been most touched/emotional/intrigued by the sequence related to blind players – I think the creators of modern games might not have known how this special audience sees the works, or maybe people just generally don’t know how the blind get about with stuff. I’d been contacted by blind players almost since the first day of shooting, so I was just steeped in it and was endeavoring to give an overview of the subject.
Similarly, other sequences got applause or laughs and I took personal notes on what worked and what didn’t, and will smooth out both this mix and the DVD work.
And after the very pleasant ovation at the end of the film, the panel assembled:
Left to right, this is Dave Lebling, Don Woods, Brian Moriarty, Andrew Plotkin, Nick Montfort, Steve Meretzky, and myself. A delightful powerhouse of panelists to discuss Interactive Fiction!
I have had very bad luck with conferences recording panels, and since I’d sprung for a couple plane tickets to bring this august group together, I had a couple HD cameras running, and have been sent the footage from a third camera. So as soon as I can, I’ll have a nice recording of this panel up on vimeo, for free. There was talk of putting this on the GET LAMP DVD… but believe it or not, there’s no room; I just don’t have the space for another hour of video anywhere on the discs. (If I spontaneously get it back from some final renders, then maybe, but that’s not all that likely). Either way, this fun event should be out there generally, so out it’ll go.
Subjects included remembering history, talking about stuff not mentioned in the PAX Mix cut, and taking questions from the audience. There were some great moments in there, including the audience finding out the hard way that Nick Montfort blows out some world-class groaner puns, and that Steve Meretzky really is that hilarious. There was also a wonderful moment when Brian Moriarty thanked Don Woods (who he’d never met) for his career. Don has gotten a lot of recognition over the years for his work with Adventure, but seriously – can he ever have too much?
After that, it turned out a few people had been told there’d be another showing of GET LAMP and they’d walked out of the line to come back, even though people had gotten mostly accepted in. So I ran it a second time, for a group of about 8 people and some Enforcers (PAX Volunteers). They were both grateful, and in some cases pretty buzzed. So we now know it plays well with people who’ve been drinking!
The rest of the weekend, I mostly spent at the table in Bandland, sometimes with guest stars like Robb Sherwin. Here’s a nice photo of us:
As you can see on the table, I was handing out postcards of GET LAMP, selling things like the BBS Documentary and Jason Shiga’s Meanwhile, and showing off both the lamp and the first printing of the case for the GET LAMP packaging.
It was, in other words, a fantastic premiere, and a wonderful time. Now, I just have to do a bit of travel I’d paid for last November, and get back into deep editing. Yes, things are delayed, but it’s really looking like it’s everything I’d hoped it would be. Thanks for waiting, thanks to everyone for showing up, and thanks to PAX East for their part in making it all happen.
WEBLOG ENTRIES ABOUT GET LAMP AND THE PREMIERE: