I mentioned on Sunday that I had been in the middle of a death march - and here's the reason why.
Five years ago, I decided to move my film-making to using motion capture technology.
At the time, I was playing a lot of World of Warcraft, and Blizzard had just made the unique, brave move to release an official license allowing users to make Machinima without sitting in a legal quagmire. And wanting to support that, I decided to set my test mocap movie in the WoW universe.
So I came up with the idea of a love story between a character who could be a WoW hero, and one of the raid bosses of the game. It's rather a "Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are dead"-ing of the game's plot - a separate epic love story neatly slotted into the cracks of the official game narrative.
At the time, I was chatting to Chris Jones, a friend of mine who had just managed to get his short film onto the Oscar shortlist. Chris suggested that I - and indeed Machinima creators at large - should be trying to cast famous actors in our movies - and given his success, I thought "why not give it a go?"
So, I started at the top, and gave Gail Stevens a call - the casting director behind Slumdog Millionaire, Narnia, Zero Dark Thirty, and dozens of other famous movies.
I was, naturally, expecting the firm but polite equivalent of the phrase "WTF? Lol." after I explained my crazy gollum-mocap-suit, based-on-a-game idea - and so was somewhat startled when she was instead very keen on the film. And suddenly, I had moved from "funky little test film" to "Do you see Joanna Lumley in this role?"
I did, in fact, see Joanna in the role - and so did she.
A few months later, we'd cast Brian Blessed as Arthas, the Lich King. Joanna Lumley and Jack Davenport were playing Lady Blaumeaux and Sir Zeliek, two characters from the WoW Naxxramas raid who play leading roles in the DKLS story. And Anna Chancellor plays Miria, the resurrected heroine of the piece.
Needless to say, this meant I had to rather raise my sights as far as intended quality went. And so, my little test film became what I hoped would be my breakout work - and over the next five (!) years, I worked to refine and improve it. We found amazing animators to complement our motion capture. We asked a BAFTA-nominated composer to compose the Kurosawa-influenced score. And we worked with historical martial arts experts to develop our action scenes.
And today, it's finally finished.
You can watch Death Knight Love Story for free online at http://www.deathknightlovestory.com/ . It's available both to stream and to torrent - since I'd rather take advantage of amazing new technology than try and get it banned.
Enjoy, and I'd love to hear what you think! If you fancy sharing the film, suggesting press we should get in touch with, or indeed writing a piece yourself, that would be awesome - and please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org in that case, as I'm very happy to assist with images, interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and so on.
Thanks to Charlie for letting me share this on his blog, btw!