Nuove Terra's Ring of Time by squirrellygirl is a machinima series that gives me a sense of pride. Not because I had anything to do with it, but because of what it represents.
When Dave and I started Moviestorm, many years ago, we had a saying: "In the 20th century, everyone had a book in them: in the 21st century, everyone's got a movie in them." We had this crazy idea that bands would use Moviestorm to make their own videos, and authors would use Moviestorm to bring their stories to life. Ring of Time is one such.
Shirley Martin wrote the book, and self-published it on Lulu. A 600-page epic, it's the sort of thing that may get picked up by a publisher or not, depending on the vagaries of the business.
In the beginning there were three worlds, until the creation of a fourth magical world. This is the world of Nuove Terra. A world in which all magic and mythical creatures exist. It is into this world that twin children Sam and Sarah Donovan are thrust. On a chilly September evening figures cloaked in blood red robes descend on their suburban home and change their lives forever. Gone are thier parents and with them any sense of comfort and family. In order to find out what happened the children must learn to fit into this strange new world and with that learn to use magic. Together with their new friends, Pat and Melinda, as well as a strange, eccentric wizard, a werewolf who works for the Magical Creature Protection Agency, and a dragon who teaches history the children begin to unravel the hidden past of their parents and the secrets behind the Ring of Time.
She then decided to turn the story into a series using Moviestorm and iClone.
Now, to be fair, there are a lot of rough edges in this. It's competent, but it doesn't have the polish of a professional production. Story-wise, it's easy to dismiss it as a Harry Potter clone, but by the end of the first episode, you can see that it is going in a different direction. It's clearly a labour of love, though. She's been working on this first episode for about six months, and it's been fascinating watching it come together.
However, the quality isn't the point. The important thing is that machinima has given Shirley a way to bring her story to another medium and a new audience. Filming that story as live action would be prohibitively expensive; filming it as machinima is comparatively quick and easy. Just as the word processor and the internet has allowed aspiring authors to bypass the traditional publishing business, machinima and the internet allows them to bypass the entire film and tv production and distribution business.
So that's why I get a happy glow when I watch Ring of Time. In our own small way, Dave and I have helped Shirley do something that probably wouldn't have been possible a decade ago. And, better still, she won't be the only one. I'm sure we'll see more squirrellygirls telling more stories based on their own novels. And I, for one, would far rather spend an evening with stories told by ordinary people who are passionate about their art, whatever their flaws, than with uninspired stories created by corporate mass entertainment machines.
Y'know, I might even buy the book. I don't care if it's not as good as Stephen King or J.K. Rowling or whoever. Hell, it's not a huge outlay, and that book would have more meaning to me than a DVD of another crappy TV series or identikit by-the-numbers novel. And that, it seems to me, is what this is all about. I wouldn't have heard of Ring of Time if it hadn't been for the machinima. And neither, I suspect, would you. But maybe, just maybe, you're intrigued enough now to click on some links, and maybe watch it for yourself. And maybe even take a look at the book. And just possibly, put a few dollars into an author's pocket. That'd be a win.