STÖMOL was released on 23 July 2020 in a private inworld premiere, with the Linden public showing taking place the next day – one year ago exactly.
How to celebrate this? I don’t think we’re at the Director’s Commentary edition just yet; to tide you over until the moment that becomes something that doesn’t cause eyes to roll (I reckon the five year anniversary for that), I’m releasing today publicly a few scenes that never made it into the final movie (yes, these have been previously available, but only if you did Complicated Things With Secret Hidden Stuff).
First off, here is the original visualisation of the Quill’s secret hideout, deleted in the end because it felt too grandiose.
Second, here’s the first attempt at the scene in which we meet Waarheid for the first time. This is more of an abandoned clip than a deleted one: we never got to finish filming it because the sim we were using closed abruptly.
Third, here’s the original version of the street food scene, which was discarded due to the opening of another sim which offered better visual continuity. This scene featured a surprise guest appearance by Ruth, the original SL avatar.
What has happened in the year that has passed? Well, there was STÖMOL’s entry into the Denver Digerati SUPERNOVA film festival in September, in which it took second place in the main competition. This was an unexpected joy, and the thing I’m most proud of about that is the demonstration it provided of Second Life as a platform for animation.
And then, last month, there was the STÖMOL Exhibition at SL18B, which I really enjoyed putting together and then seeing people exploring. Before the exhibition closed, I did a little film of it, which you can see below.
If you’re interested in grabbing some of that limited edition merchandise you saw in that video, you can find the trading cards here and the cutouts here.
What’s next? Well, if you saw my casting call back in May, you’ll known I’m working on something new. Expect an official announcement some time in September…
In just over a month it will be a year since the release of my sci-fi machinima, STÖMOL. Since a big part of my motivation for creating the movie was to promote and celebrate Second Life, building an exhibition for SL18B – the celebration of SL’s 18th birthday, which opened yesterday – seemed like an excellent idea to me.
STÖMOL: The Exhibition can be visited here. It’s right in front of the SL18B welcome area. You’ll find information about the locations used in the movie, an exhibition of the trading card art created for the merchandise, and a complete set from the film to explore. Or you can just kick back and watch the movie itself in the mini cinema. Have a hunt around with your cam whilst you’re there: super-sleuths will find a hidden link to some deleted clips from STÖMOL, and there’s even a concealed clue about the machinima I’m working on right now.
There’s a free piece of merch to pick up at the exhibition too: a whole-cast life-size cut-out. On display also are some of the individual cut-outs created last year (and, by the way, there are still a few left of these at my store). You can also have an up-close look at the Sonic Rover flying car used by Stömol in the movie.
If you’re visiting using an EEP viewer, don’t forget to enable the shared environment. I’ve used the same dystopian lighting for the exhibition that I used in the film.
I was delighted to see the exhibition featured in yesterday’s special Lab Gab episode covering SL18B – thank you Strawberry!
I’ll be hanging out at the exhibition over the next few days when I’m in SL so, if you see me there, feel free to come and chat 🙂
UPDATE. If you missed the exhibition, check out below a video tour I made of it.
Friday night was the concluding night of the 2020 SUPERNOVA Digital Film Festival, and to see it out a live awards event was held on Zoom. SUPERNOVA is the first film festival I’ve ever entered and I was delighted to hear, back in August, that STÖMOL had been selected for the main competition programme. I never expected it to win an award, but last night it took second place in this contest. Wow.
Event host and festival founder Ivar Zeile said of STÖMOL:
“I was stunned when I watched STÖMOL for the first time. I’ve seen some Second Life animations – we’ve really supported artists that are working in that platform over the years – and I didn’t believe I was going to be taken by a feature length film made in Second Life, but Huckleberry absolutely delivered the goods.
I have a big background in film throughout the course of my history and it felt like I’m really watching somebody who knows a lot about film and is shooting the entire piece through a virtual universe with tools that I think are just mind-blowing. I would really suggest listening to the interview with him because it reveals a lot of layers.”
The two hour event, which you should be able to watch in full here (there is also a video summary here), showcased the honourable mentions and award winners from the other programmes in the festival, including the Student Shorts programme (watching Natalie Nichols‘ reaction to her win for ‘Identity Crisis’ was pure joy) and the ‘World on Fire’ programme (won by Maja Gehrig‘s sublime ‘Average Happiness’), as well as a number of Performance Jam videos, the last of which – ‘Remnants \\X// Afrofuturism,’ a collaboration between Jeremy Grant, Matthew Langford and R Alan Brooks – certainly gave me plenty to think about as a creator of science fiction.
Throughout the event, Ivar provided review comments from judges for each of the entries presented. SUPERNOVA competition juror Kendra Fleischman said this about STÖMOL:
“It is a beautifully crafted piece where each scene is like a digital painting, with scenes reminiscent of Blade Runner and The Matrix. It is very detailed in labour intensive work with a great story. A huge team of people worked on this piece, and it shows in the incredible amount of detail in the environments, lighting and character design. The music soundtrack is edgy and fits the mood of the film. The story is engaging with an unexpected ending.”
Although the festival is now over, you can still watch entries at Supernova.video, a streaming service (which costs just $1.99 per month, with a free 7 day trial) which includes also entries from previous years. I subscribed myself this week, and can attest to the rich and stimulating variety of work that can be found there.
And, of course, you can still see STÖMOL for free on its YouTube page here.
SUPERNOVA 2020 has been a fantastic few weeks. My entry into the festival was a bit last-minute, but I’m so glad I overcame the usual New Thing Anxiety and completed it on time. I’d like to thank Ivar for the personal relationship he created in his communication with me (which can’t have been easy, given the number of artists entering the festival), which made the whole experience so much easier. Through SUPERNOVA, I kind of feel like I’ve entered into a new, vibrant and forward-facing community – and that’s a good feeling to have, especially in 2020.
Yesterday afternoon I spent a very pleasant hour talking to Ivar Zeile, Founder and Creative Director of the SUPERNOVA Digital Film Festival, about STÖMOL and filming in Second Life. STÖMOL has been selected for the festival, and is one of two feature-length films showing. 2020 is the first time SUPERNOVA has included a feature-length category.
Erik Mondrian, one of the winners of the New World Notes competition for a free ticket to the inworld private premiere of STÖMOL, enjoyed my film so much he told me I should consider submitting it to a film festival. If you’ve seen my Lab Gab interview with Strawberry Linden, you’ll hopefully know by now just how much of a novice I am to all of this film-making stuff, and therefore won’t be entirely surprised to learn that my response to this was, “How do I do that?”
Established in 2016, the festival showcases “animation and motion-art created by individual artists or teams using computer software as the focal development of their work […] Genres are not limited but tend toward narrative, abstract, experimental, playful, mind-bending, gaming/machinema, music video, educational, documentary, etc.” The festival takes place around the city of Denver, displaying selected films to its residents via public LCD screens. This year, due to Covid-19, there will be fewer screens for this and a greater focus placed on accessing the festival online. The theme for this year’s festival is ‘World on fire.’
BUT Erik discovered SUPERNOVA with just two days to go before the submission deadline, so a hasty application had to be put together. And I was delighted to learn yesterday that STÖMOL has been selected for the festival, which will run from 17 to 19 September.
If you’re a Denver resident, then, there’s a chance that you could get to watch STÖMOL on the outdoors screen at the corner of 14th and Champa during the festival. If not, you can watch STÖMOL and the other festival entries online (head over to the festival site for details). The schedule has not yet been published but I will add the details in a new blog post just as soon as I have them.
Header image taken from the 2020 SUPERNOVA promotional video, which can be watched in full here.
There’s one last thing for me to do on my STÖMOL tick list: publish a web page with the movie embedded. So here it is. Underneath the video below are a few additional musings which you have my permission to ignore completely.
It’s been a thrilling end to a long journey. When I started on this project I knew next to nothing about filming machinima and it all culminated, last night, in a Linden-hosted inworld screening attended by nearly a hundred people including five Lindens (yes, I counted them). I mean, wow. Sitting there and seeing the reactions to the film from all these people I’d never met was absolutely the cherry on the cake of this experience.
There’s been a buzz about this movie which I would never have imagined possible at the start. I’ve put a lot of work into promoting it, but then again I put work into promoting everything I do. This project caught the eyes of a small number of influencers that my previous work didn’t. I got lucky.
The attention has been hugely enjoyable, but my role in this movie’s life is now pretty much finished. It’s time for me to decide and then focus on my next project.
So I’ll sign off on this topic with some acknowledgements.
First, the visual look of STÖMOL was due in no small part to the content creators of SL and the assemblage artists who created the incredible installations that served as the sets of the movie. In a very real sense, then, this movie was created by the residents of SL.
Second, I’m indebted to my cast. When someone like me, who has zero reputation or track record for movie-making, asks if you would like to have a role in something like STÖMOL then you would be entirely forgiven for politely declining. Why should anyone give up hours of their time for something there is no evidence to suggest will actually be completed or any good if it actually is? Why should anyone stand around for whole evenings being told to repeatedly walk the same little strip of ground or type garbage endlessly into main chat just to make your avatar’s lips move? And yet, none of my cast members hesitated for a second to say yes, and not one of them complained about being told to do the same thing over and over. I would also like to thank the many extras who were mostly folk doing their own thing in various sims and had their peace disturbed by me bursting into their IM window to ask if they would mind me filming them or including them in a shot featuring other characters. Nobody said no.
A special thanks to Caitlin Tobias, who was part of that luck of mine I mentioned earlier in getting noticed. And nobody endured more the endless boredom of standing around doing nothing whilst I tried to figure out how to film something than she did.
Another special thanks to G J Hicks, my lifelong RL friend. His music brought a whole level of immersion to the movie that I simply could not have achieved without him. He might release a soundtrack album. If he does, I’ll let you know here.
A big thank you to Strawberry Linden, who responded so positively to Cait contacting her about the movie. One of the unexpected delights of this process has been getting to know her a little better and experiencing first-hand the genuine passion she has for SL and the creativity of its residents. Thank you also to Brett and Patch for suggesting and then organising the inworld screening.
And Thank you to Wagner James Au for noticing the very first post I made about STÖMOL and expressing an interest in it. His belief in the project contributed in no small way to me finding the determination to finish it.
Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has watched STÖMOL. As I write, it’s less than 48 hours since the release and already we’re well on our way to 1,000 views. That’s amazing. Thank you.
You’re still reading? Wow. A little something for you, then. Hidden on the internet are a few secret extras. But can you find them?
Ok folks, we’re almost there. Enough with all the promotion. It’s time to actually release STÖMOL.
Here’s how you’ll be able to watch the movie from Thursday onwards. Please note, these details are a tiny bit different from those I gave in last Friday’s Lab Gab. The main difference is that, for the first 24 hours, the movie will be available via New World Notes rather than my YouTube channel (doing it this way just gives me one less thing to think about on Thursday).
Thursday 23 July
You will be able to watch STÖMOL exclusively on New World Notes from 3:10pm SLT onwards.
Click the link and hit refresh at 3:10pm.
At the same time as this, we will be holding the private premiere event inworld.
Congratulations to New World Notes competition winners AvaJean Westland and Erik Mondrian, who both won a free ticket to this event.
Friday 24 July
As announced on Lab Gab last week, and in collaboration with Linden Lab, a large scale screening of STÖMOL will be held inworld at 3pm SLT at Town Hall Island.
This will be a huge, four region venue with a capacity of about 200 people, so all are welcome. You will need to be in the latest version of the official viewer to watch the movie. The event will be attended by the cast of STÖMOL and also a number of Lindens. There will be a short Q&A session also.
I’m really excited about this event – a total first for me in my 13 years of SL – and hope to see you there.
Just prior to this event, STÖMOL will be released for public viewing on YouTube.
Saturday 25 July
I will release a blog post here with the movie embedded.
The movie will also be left on permanent play in The Nancy Redgrave Building.
In case you haven’t yet seen it, below is yesterday’s episode of Lab Gab, which was entirely focused on STÖMOL. We spent a whole hour talking to host Strawberry Linden about the movie, and I have to say the time simply flew by. It was great fun – and an enormous privilege.
At the end of the episode, a big announcement was made: Linden Labs will be hosting an extra inworld event for the movie on Friday 24 July at 3pm (24 hours after the film’s release). This will be a live streaming of the film in a four sim venue, attended by the STÖMOL cast and a number of Lindens. All are welcome at this event, and I will be publishing the location once it’s been finalised. We are hugely excited about this and so grateful to Linden Lab for such a great opportunity.
We’re now less than a week away from the film going live. Stay tuned this week for further details.
Cait and I met up with Strawberry and Brett Linden on Monday to discuss the show. We are delighted with their enthusiastic response to the movie and can’t wait to talk about it further with Strawberry later today.
If you think this is bonkers then you’re probably right. But I’m feeling celebratory. After all, creating STÖMOL took up nearly 18 months of my life (ok, I did squeeze in the day job during that time and quite a bit of other stuff besides). And, when it comes to SL purchasable stuff, there is always the option to shake your head in disbelief and, you know, not purchase it.
And, with the movie finally finished and uploaded to YouTube all ready for its premiere on 23 July, I have to find something to do with my time besides doing the subtitles and getting my place all spruced up and ready for the premiere and deciding on the invitation list and the HUGE job of sending all the invites out and keeping track of the RSVPs (ok, so Cait’s doing that) and contacting various people about the movie to promote it (ok, Cait’s doing that too).
A word about the premiere event. It will be held inworld on 23 July at 3pm SLT. I’m afraid it’s an invitation only event since the capacity of the sim is just 44 people – and there’s a lot of people who helped out with the movie who we want to thank through an invitation. But what we’re aiming to do is to show the movie inworld at the same time that it premieres on YouTube, so you should still be able to watch along. I say this is what we’re aiming to do, but keep in mind that this is the first time I’ve ever premiered anything on YouTube, so it’s all new territory for me. At some point over the next couple of weeks, however, I’ll be hitting the start button on the countdown timer on YouTube and publishing the movie URL so that everyone knows where to go for when the timer hits zero. So stay tuned.
So merchandise. Yes. Over the next week, I’ll be releasing various bits of merch into my marketplace store. These items will all be no copy but transfer enabled, and they will be limited in quantity. Yes, I’m trying to create virtual collectors’ items here.
Today I’m announcing the STÖMOL lifesize cutout range, available right now. There are 100 of each of the seven main movie characters (Epi Stömol, Waarheid, Verity Certain, The Quill, The Eye, Istinito and Adevarul) and you can pick each one up for just L$29. Once they’re gone they’re gone – though, for the sake of transparency, I should add that I’ll be gifting an additional number (up to 50 of each character, also no copy and transfer enabled) to various people.
What will they be worth in six months’ time? Probably L$29 – but you never know! At least you’ll have something that very few other people will have. That’s something. Right?