Sunday, 1 November 2009

Atopic Film Festival

Well, the Atopic Film Festival turned into more of an adventure for me than I was expecting...

My wife and I took the opportunity to spend a day in Paris the day before going to the festival - we had amazingly good weather and did the ususal touristy things. I also visited La Grande Arche for the first time which is definately a sight worth seeing - if you think Paris is all olde worlde architecture then you're in for a shock! La Defense is like a vision of the future.

La Grande Arche is actually a building with some amazing views to be seen from the top, and an excellent computer museum which took me back to my teenage years; they had ZX81, Commodore PET, my first Amstrad computers, Apple II etc. I also had to point out to my wife that no, that isn't a seat, it's a Cray supercomputer...
On Friday we visited the festival which was being held at the City of Science and Industry - it was a great venue which combined various family attractions, 3D cinemas, planetarium, and a decomissioned submarine called Argonaute. I'm a sucker for old technology so a visit to the sub was mandatory!

The festival started showing the movies at 12 o'clock, so off we trotted to find the cinema. It was a little hard to find because it was separate from the rest of the Atopic exhibition (where they were showing old console games, demo 3d art, and an interesting augmented reality display). The movies were being shown in sections; Creative Machinima, Alternative Machinima, Narrative Machinima, French Machinima, etc. and the running order was changed every day. My movie was being shown as part of the Narrative section.

Most of the movies that were shown were unfamiliar to me, and I got a real sense that in France they like their machinima to be art, rather than frivolous. It was interesting to watch.

We decided to take a break for the French Machinima section as we don't really speak French and I wanted to get lunch and back in time to see my movie (oh how vain!) As we left the cinema I introduced myself to some of the organisers. I had a tentative arrangement to do a recorded interview with Xavier Lardy (French machinima expert) later in the day, but there was some uncertainty as to whether he would be there as he lives 3 hours away from Paris, however Frederick Thompson was available and was happy to do an interview a bit later.

When we got back from lunch, we had just settled into our seats when there was a tap on my shoulder. It was Frederick. "It is time for the interview" he said.

"No, no." I replied, "My movie will be showing soon. We can do the interview later"

"No. The camera crew is here now. They need to interview you right now".
So, while I had been gallavanting around Paris the day before, Christophe Alonso from a French/German cultural TV channel, Arte, had been trying to get in touch with me to arrange a TV interview for a programme called Tracks.

And, as if I needed any further encouragement Frederick said that there had been a mistake in the running order of the movies which meant that my movie wasn't due to be shown for another hour or so. Perfect!

So, I go out and meet Christophe, and his crew (a woman with a camera, a man with a boom mike). They wanted some shots of me wandering around Atopic, looking at the various exibits, then it was outside to do the interview. A few shots of me walking below the shiny globe of the Geode (I think they were taking arty shots of my reflection in the chrome). The whole time I'm thinking "I'm going to be on TV, I'm going to be on TV! My, what a big camera she has!"

Then we did the interview, and I'm afraid it's all a bit of a blur. I guess I shouldn't say too much about what we discussed anyway as that'll just spoil their content, but I did give Moviestorm a mention, and also Phil Rice/Overman, Sisch, and Hugh Hancock.

And, according to Christophe I really know my art! So there!

We got back into the cinema just in time for the Narrative section. I was happy.

Later, I had arranged to meet with Frederick, and when I did Xavier had made it too, so I was able to do two audio interviews to gain a real insight into machinima in France. I'll be posting those interviews here very soon.


  1. Great you had the chance to attend Atopic festival and you and your wife enjoyed Paris. It's an amazing city. Must be great to see one's own film on the big screen with a large audience watching. I look forward to listen to
    the interviews you've made.

  2. Sounds like you had a great good, exciting time - wish I could have been there, too! :)
    I hope they'll let you know when your interview will be on TV?

  3. Sounds like a wonderful experience, IceAxe! Thanks so much for telling us about it!