A Machinima film and the turning point

In the fall of 2005, I was studying for my high school finals, and also working on a side-gig as an assistant director on a school’s musical production.  Being involved in putting together every aspect of the theatrical production, I had this nagging feeling to make and direct something of my own – an itch to also tell a story. Thus came the idea of experimenting with a short film.
It was just about then that I had started to get the hang of playing around with the in-game film engine of the popular simulation game called the Sims2. It was the newly budding phase of ‘Machinima’– Machine made cinema. The Sims2 was among the first few games that allowed you to film your game as you played it, with many other simulation games such as ‘The Movies’ and ‘Second Life’ hitting the shelves around the same time!
Out of nowhere came the idea to make a music video from the moving images filmed in the game. This would be a mammoth task to undertake, I had to visually design every element in every frame i.e. choose the layout of the set, the colour schemes, the looks of the characters, the costumes – everything! It would almost be like a virtual play!
Experiments and starting all over again:
Unbreak My Heart, Machinima Film by Shakti Pherwani

Promotion Still for ‘Unbreak My Heart’

A few sleepless nights spent on a computer that could barely handle the graphic specs of the game, the making of the film turned out to be a lot more intense than I’d expected. Sometimes the Sims didn’t walk upto the edge of the frames, sometimes I’d forgotten to change the costume!
Multiple bloopers and story-line changes along the way– I came to eventually re-film everything from scratch. I had to figure out the kind of style I wanted to direct this short music video film in and stick to the visual storyboard.
I began to edit the clips as I went along and a new narrative began to emerge – the story had new layers of abandonment, deceit and a certain level of cowardice. The overlaying theme of setting this film in an outdoor wedding, however, never changed.
From little scenes, a short film emerges.
The result was a plot perfectly fitted to Toni Braxton’s ‘Unbreak my heart’ – call it a fan-film, a student-film or whatever you will – but the film went on to get selected by the Machinima Film Fest 2005 – and had its world premiere at the Museum of Moving Images in New York.
The film also saw some nominations at animation festivals in Berlin, Portugal and while it didn’t win, it was an honour to be nominated in the short film category at an international scale with my very first experiment with trying to tell a story.
Being that I was almost about to go down the path of studying electronic engineering, I found myself redirecting the wheel to a more creative sphere – which is where the urge to teach myself video editing and design basics took root. It was then that I had to also make a website to promote ‘Unbreak My Heart’ – leading me to teach myself the basics of making a working website! One thing led to another and I found myself yearning for the technical know how of all learning aspects of bringing alive a visual experience!
And thus the journey continues..

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