Yet another of my side projects that's interfering with actually making movies is that I've somehow found myself co-opted into organising the machinima segment of the Cambridge Film Festival. (That's Cambridge, England, for you transatlantic folks.)
The 28th Cambridge Film Festival runs from 18-28 September, and it's one of the three largest film events in the UK. The Guardian described Cambridge as “a match for the Edinburgh and London Film Festivals…” while The Times said that it “easily outclasses its metropolitan rivals”. So, no pressure there, then.
The deadline for finalising the sessions and movies is approaching fast. The great news is that the organisers are really keen on machinima, so there will be a lot of it. The bad news, from the point of view of my social life and free time, is that my role has grown from "Matt, can you suggest a few movies we could show" to "Matt, will you organise a whole bunch of screenings and speakers, get the clearances, certificate the movies, and plan a whole series of machinima-related events". I'm not working alone, though. The guy who's making it all happen is the redoubtable Saint John Walker of Film & Digital Media Exchange, and I've now roped in the ever-reliable Tiffany, who makes things happen at Short Fuze.
What I've enjoyed most - other than the fact that Festival meetings are held in the bar of the Arts Picturehouse - is spending time watching loads of machinima again, and picking the very best, regardless of whether they're made in WoW, SL, Antics, iClone, Moviestorm, Motionbuilder, Sims, HL2, GTA, or any combination of tools. All competitive rivalry between any of us in the business can be completely put aside. It's not about who makes the best software, it's about who's made the best movies. Over the next few days, we'll be contacting directors to ask for permission to show movies, then we'll have a call for further submissions after we announce the line-up, so we can catch any last-minute movies.
I'm also looking forward to working with local tech guru Bill Thompson, who's not just a great bloke, major film fanatic, and one of the Festival organisers, but is also a great supporter of machinima and wants to get personally involved with the machinima stream. He's come up with some interesting ideas for things we could do, and it'll be a challenge seeing if we can make them happen.
(Aside to Overman and Ricky. I did take on board what you guys said in Overcast #32 about showing machinima alongside other films, and not in a ghetto of its own, but I think that was a little too radical for the organisers. Maybe next year. This year, we're still "special".)