Indie Game: The Movie HBO series not a comedy

James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot talk to GameSpot about the film's reception at Sundance and the recent rights deal with programming giant HBO.


Last December, the Sundance Institute revealed its decision to include independent film Indie Game: The Movie, about the struggles of independent game development, in its official selection at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. This marked a significant win for Canadian filmmakers James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot.

So who's going to make Indie Game: The Movie: The Game?
So who's going to make Indie Game: The Movie: The Game?

The film--which was screened at Sundance last week--follows the creative process of Super Meat Boy creators Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, FEZ creator Phil Fish, and Braid creator Jonathan Blow. Swirsky and Pajot spent a year following the indie developers across North America shooting the documentary, which was funded by two campaigns on crowd-sourced funding platform Kickstarter.

Following its premiere at Sundance, Indie Game: The Movie was optioned by HBO and subsequently awarded the Best Editing award in Sundance's World Cinema Documentary Competition.

GameSpot asked Swirsky and Pajot about the reception to the film, the deal with HBO--which was at first incorrectly thought to be a comedy series--and plans for the film's future distribution across the US and the world.

GameSpot: Are you happy with how well Indie Game: The Movie was received at Sundance?

James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot: The response to the film was AWESOME. Like, beyond our wildest dreams. We never thought when we started making this film that we'd be premiering at Sundance, that we'd get some really great reviews, that audiences would be laughing and crying, that accomplished directors like Brad Bird would be tweeting about the film, and that we'd get an award. It's crazy.

A really rewarding element of showing at Sundance was the reactions of self-identified nongamers. At screenings, there were usually two or three people that came up to us and said, "I don't play games. I don't like games. But, I think I get them now", which was incredible to hear.

GS: Can you tell us in more detail how the HBO deal came about and what we can expect to see out of that?

JS, LP: HBO and Oscar award-winning producer Scott Rudin have optioned the premise of Indie Game: The Movie to become a fictional TV series. There are a lot of things that need to line up for it to happen, but it's so exciting because Scott Rudin has made lots of films that we love, like The Social Network, Moneyball, There Will Be Blood, and lots of Wes Anderson films.

His team approached us shortly before Sundance. They really liked the film, both the approach and the tone. The film will act as a jumping-off point for the fictional series, and we'll see what happens with it. We're just so excited to work with them. We will be producers on the show, if it comes to reality.

GS: What about future plans for the distribution of the film?

JS, LP: There has been a lot of interest in the film, which is completely amazing and a little overwhelming. We're just sorting through all the opportunities right now. We hope to find the best way to release the film and reach lots of people. We'll see how that shakes down in the coming weeks.

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