Friday, November 6, 2009

Stories From the Machine Presents: The Little Wooden Boy and The Jewish Genie

Oftentimes it's difficult to get the word out about great Machinima, thus there are hundreds of little gems hiding throughout our global community, tucked away on personal websites or on some YouTube account buried beneath the videos of 14 year old boys lighting their farts on fire. It is always a true joy when I run across a film that, to me, exemplifies a strong use of virtual tools to tell a coherent story.

Codewarrior Carling's short film entitled "The Little Wooden Boy and The Jewish Genie" genuinely made me smile. In fact, I laughed out loud. It's a true challenge for any filmmaker to invoke emotion using animation because they can appear unwittingly stiff or altogether static, but the performances in Carling's film are nothing short of stellar and they bring the characters a vibrant life that makes them leap from the screen.

Beautifully filmed in iClone 3D, this film is the perfect example of strong storytelling in a small scope. It didn't have to be embellished with effects, have a huge budget or dozens of exterior/interior shots to keep your attention. A good story with good actors keeps you invested from the first scene, and the team behind this film definitely achieved something quite spectacular using very little space.

It's a charming fable about an Orc who has purchased a magical bottle that, much to his dismay, contains a chatty, cantankerous little Genie with a blazing stubborn streak. Carling gave his actors direction, but allowed them to adapt their characters to his storyline by allowing them to ad lib their dialog, a method that truly brought out one of the most memorable performances in Machinima to date - that of Second Life Residents Thundergas Menges and Pooky Amsterdam as the Jewish Genie who is bound to leave viewers in stitches with her remarkable wit and punchy one-liners.

The originality of "The Little Wooden By and The Jewish Genie" was also an aspect of this film not to be overlooked. More and more machinima is venturing toward an Art House aesthetic with shorts that feature no stories, but instead a collective of moving tableaus, so it was refreshing to see something that returned to traditional storytelling using an explicitly nontraditional medium!

I hope you enjoy this short film as much as I did.

Phaylen Fairchild

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