An obsessed gamer and his friend build the perfect virtual city but can’t escape their less-than-perfect relationships.
Writer: Suri Parmar
Directors: Suri Parmar, Nevin Douglas
Producers: Suri Parmar, Duncan Parcells
My films often (fussily) combine analog filmmaking with new media, and Rialia was no exception.
Upon discovering the video game Minecraft (and neither eating nor sleeping for days), I conceived its live-action machinima story about a lonely gamer who seeks refuge in virtual worlds, and connected with designer Duncan Parcells who had made headlines for creating a titanic Minecraft city from millions of building blocks. He not only gave me permission to use Titan City as a virtual film set but provided a refurbished version.
Co-director (and seasoned machinima creator) Nevin Douglas came on board and we devised a production pipeline that would contrast grainy, lethargic live action with immersive video game footage to convey the scope of Titan City (renamed Rialia for the film) and the isolation of Nav, the protagonist.
After my production team and I shot the Super 16mm ‘real-life’ scenes with gaming personality Shaun Hatton, Nevin and I tackled the machinima sequences – a sticky process involving three video game consoles and two television screens. Rialia was then put on hold while I attended graduate school, after which the screenplay needed revising.
Editor Stephen Leck worked miracles to craft a new narrative from b-roll footage. Composing a Minecraft-esque score that highlighted the visuals without overwhelming the story was another conundrum, but musician and sound designer Joshua Hemming rose to the challenge. Inspired by Wendy Carlos, he synthesized pieces by Verdi and Vivaldi into a haunting and suitably gothic aural tapestry.
So what did I glean from making Rialia? My Apocalypse Now? Primarily, that cinema is a hive-mind process. I keep referring to Rialia as ‘my’ film when it’s the product of many brilliant and talented cast and crew members. Food for thought, considering our tendency to regard films as auteur-driven and not a funneling of unique voices. – Suri Parmar
About Suri Parmar
Suri Parmar is a writer, filmmaker and university professor educated at the Canadian Film Centre and Stonecoast MFA program in creative writing.
While she doesn’t confine her storytelling to one particular style, she leans towards liminality: the intervening spaces between moods, moments, mediums and genres.
About Nevin Douglas
Nevin Douglas is a Toronto-based musician, recording artist, video editor and producer.
Through the creation of his animated web series Playtime, he became a specialist in the world of machinima: the creation of original animated content filmed with video games.
He has produced four seasons of Playtime, released seven studio albums, and filmed and edited music videos for himself and singer/songwriter Lisa Marie Kruchak. He has also played hundreds of concerts in and around the Toronto area as the guitarist of rock bands Debaser, The Withouts and Habitat.
Currently, he is working on a new solo album and raising his young daughter.