If you’re interested in what’s going on in the fields of participation, interaction or roleplaying, I recommend spending this evening at Club PRKL in Helsinki or online following the webcast. It’s the publishing of the new Solmukohta journal States of Play followed by Nordic Larp Talks.
The doors open at 6pm, the excellent book States of Play is published at 7, and Nordic Larp Talks hosted by Johanna Koljonen starts at 8!
States of Play is edited by Juhana Pettersson and has dozens of really interesting articles on the design, theory, documentation and results of the cutting edge Nordic tradition of live roleplaying. My article Folk Fantasy deals with Täällä Kirjokannen alla and what I think might be the dawn of a new era in the fantasy genre. The book is also published as a free PDF.
Now, here’s some info on Nordic Larp Talks:
We are proud to welcome you to Nordic Larp Talks Helsinki 2012 – an evening of entertaining, thought-provoking and mind-boggling lectures about projects and ideas from the Nordic tradition of live action roleplaying games.
The talks are presented by writer, radio & television host as well as winner of the innovator category of this year’s The Swedish Grand Journalism Prize award, Johanna Koljonen.
Mike Pohjola – How to become a god
Johanna Macdonald – From stage to larp
JP Kaljonen – The interplay between player and man in the street
Jesper Bruun – Experimental Larp Design
Lizzie Stark – Playing in Graveyards: Terror collides with larp in New York City
My presentation, How To Become A God, deals with the history of drama from Dionysian rituals to reality television, and beyond, and how all of this relates to roleplaying. While doing that, I’ll also answer a puzzling point in Aristotle’s Poetics that’s been bugging theatre scholars for three thousand years.
See you there!
Conspiracy For Good that was played last summer in the streets of London, and before that all around the world online and with mobile phones, is nominated for some of the top prizes in interactive media.
The media festival South By Southwest (SXSW) gives out awards every year for interactive works, and Conspiracy For Good has been nominated in the mobile category. Cool! SXSW takes place in Austin, TX, March 11.-20., and the award gala will be March 15th.
The last time The Company P won an International Interactive Emmy was a few years ago with Sanningen om Marika at MIPTV in Emmy. That award was for Best Interactive Tv Service. Now we’re nominated for the same award again. The name is no the Interactive Digital Emmy, though, and the category Digital Fiction. The lightning-winged Emmy goddess might end up in our hands on April 4th in Cannes.
PS. If you missed Conspiracy For Good, here’s a great video that explains the whole giant of an experience in a few minutes.
The short film The Forest of Babel by Elina and me (produced by Pohjola-filmi) won at Prix Europa in the category Languages Through Lenses! The award gala was held at Haus des Rundfunks, and televised live in Germany. Present were just about all the European public broadcasting CEOs, Directors of Drama and the coolest creatives. Not bad 🙂
Watch the movie here!
I’m spending this week in Berlin attending the Prix Europa tv conference. This is a meeting of European broadcasters and creators, where they watch or listen to each others tv series, radio shows, documentaries, emerging media productions (websites, mostly), and review them. Then they vote on them, and the ones highest regarded get awarded the Golden Bull.
Elina and I are attending because our short film The Forest of Babel was selected in the Languages Through Lenses category. The fifteen teams from all around Europe arrived on Saturday, and spent the whole of Sunday watching, commenting and voting on each others’ films. Sunday evening we found out that our film was one of the three short-listed ones, and would compete for the student award Golden Calf at the award gala this Saturday. Very exciting!
The film is a 90-second piece, that’s written by me, produced by Elina and directed by us together. It has a Sami girl, a Basque boy, and a Kurdish boy trying to save a reindeed from under a fallen tree in Lapland. It’s a co-production between Pohjola-filmi and Aalto University.
So we’re spending the whole week here at Prix Europa. Every morning begins with a breakfast speech by one luminary or another, and then the day is full of screenings from all over Europe. Sometimes there are special events like Guy Meredith’s lecture on non-linear screenwriting on Tuesday, or a producers’ panel on co-production this evening.
Monday’s breakfast speech was by British documentarist Paul Watson. He was an entertaining speaker and longed for the olden times when tv was apparently not as smitten with celebrities and the lowest common denominator. I don’t know, maybe he’s right. The reason I’m mentioning him is he had a great quote, perhaps the best I’ve heard here so far. ”Film is the opera of arts.” Let that sink in. What’s opera then? I must ask him again if I meet him again here in Berlin, the Frankfurt of Germany!
Today the Emerging Media section begun, and I’ll try and attend most of it. The amount of tweeting with the #PE10 tag immediately went through the roof since the conference is suddenly full of social media specialists. It’s very interesting to compare different European online/interactive/new media/multimedia/extended universe/mobile productions with the participatory stuff The company P is doing.
Zachary Quinto, the new Mr Spock is not a member: http://www.imnotamember.com/#373
Nor is r&b singer Joss Stone: http://www.imnotamember.com/#1017
Nor is Julian Lennon: http://imnotamember.com/#845
Nor is Greg Grunberg: http://imnotamember.com/#345
Don’t be a member! Record you denial on the site!
I updated my English resumé, and decided to post it here on this blog, as well. Check it out!
I saw the new Star Trek film last night, and was not too impressed. It was certainly a fun and entertaining scifi action movie, but I expected more.
(This rant contains spoilers, but it’s not exactly a murder mystery, so read on.)
My first criteria for the movie was that if I took someone unfamiliar with Trek to see it, would they ”get” Trek. Would they understand why I spent my youth with a Data poster on my wall, practising the Vulcan salute and some Klingon phrases. Or, had I seen this as a ten-year-old, would it have made as much of an impact on me, as the early TNG episodes?
I don’t think this movie has that appeal at all. It caters to us fans well enough, not breaking continuity, delivering enough old catchphrases, reintroducing the retro costumes and so on. It gives your mainstream audience lots of space explosions and planetside fist fights. But it doesn’t have ”it.”
It doesn’t have that special something that made us love Star Trek despite the crappy effects, occasional sloppy writing or lackluster directing. Besides all the technobabble Trek also had human questions, philosophical dilemmas and a bright, utopian view of the future. It gave us hope. This gives us… explosions and fist fights.
I’m not against explosions and fist fights, not at all. I think they’re cool. Especially when they happen while orbiting strange alien planets. But I wanted more.
I realize cinema is not the medium of choice for philosophy and ethical questions, it’s more about visual storytelling. But one thing movies do well is showing close-ups of characters you’ve grown to care about making hard choices with emotional music in the background, and making me laugh and cry. With these characters I already love, I was almost certain I’d get that. But no. I’ve cried to Pirates of the Carribbean and even to the Sex and the City movie. But here? Nothing. Couple of good jokes, and some popcorn action, but my eyes remained dry. Everything that happened just seemed irrelevant.
Many reviews praised this film because it gave us personal storylines we care about: The youth dilemmas of Captain Kirk and Mr Spock. You’ve read it everywhere, so it’s no spoiler at this point: Kirk is a rebel under-achiever who takes up the challenge to measure up to his martyred space hero father. Spock is torn between his emotional human heritage and his logical Vulcan side.
Or so I can imagine the synopsis saying.
Kirk’s story is pretty well told, with acting, directing and writing combining to a pretty good, if uninspired yarn. This is how Jim Kirk becomes Captain Kirk, taking his smug, self-righteous, driven attitude to become a great leader. American screenwriters seem to have some sort of constant Oidipus complex where every white twenty-something male hero has to measure up to his dad, but it works here just fine.
The story of Spock on the other hand, seems to pretend to be something it’s not. I honestly can’t understand how this combination of confused writing and sloppy directing made it on screen. The premise is that Spock hides all his emotions and claims to base all his decisions on logic – just like in the tv series. But that doesn’t get through at all. All the decisions he makes are based on pure, non-hidden emotion. Turn down Vulcan Science Academy because they made fun of your mom? Get annoyed and spiteful at Jim Kirk beating your test? Make out with your girlfriend in the elevator? Constantly lose your temper talking about the smalles things? Leave your command post to go play Indy on Vulcan? Weep over the loss of your mom? What the hell is that? If they wanted to portray Spock as hiding his emotions, shouldn’t they give him some scenes where you’d expect him to show emotion (and there were plenty), and then NOT show those emotions? Until the climax where he finally let’s them pour through, and the audience is in tears, watching the face of stone grimace in pain.
What we got was a story of some really emotional guy with petty grievances towards his rivals, who has lots of bad luck, and then finally befriends his rival. I guess I can live with that story, too, but why pretend it’s something else?
Actually, that pretty much sums up my feelings for this whole film. It’s a nice space adventure, but why pretend it’s Star Trek?
I sat next to Ecyrd in the theatre, and pretty much agree with his review, too.
I may have forgotten several key details about last night, including a strange improvised midnight quest with one master Daniel Krauklis. Also, I met a man with long fingernails and long blonde hair, whom the Norwegians had dubbed ”The young Mike Pohjola.” Nice fellow, so not exactly like me.
I had signed up for lots of programme Saturday morning, but slept through most of it, only waking up in time to attend the end discussion of Jiituomas Harviainen’s lecture where they talked about the differences and similarities between ritual and larp. A shame I missed it, but fortunately there will be articles coming up on the topic.
I woke Martin up, dragged him to lunch, and we started rigging up for our presentation. I’m not often hungover, but for some unknown reason that curse afflicted me this day. Head aching, nausea, confusion, all that good stuff.
The Knutepunkt practical arrangements were well taken care of, but I often noticed problems with the tech department. Sound cables missing, extension cords nowhere to be found, video projectors not set up in time, and so on. The guys working the tech were doing the best they could, but I think they simply didn’t have enough gear. Later in the evening I ended up borrowing my laptop to Erlend and Katri Lassila so they could show their films, that were apparently unplayable on the equipment at hand.
After everything was set up, we did our hour-and-a-half presentation, starting with Sanningen om Marika, and moving on from there. We created a sort of narrative around the fact that after last year’s Solmukohta we were just getting ready to fly to Cannes for the International Emmy Gala.
When we told the little tale of us sitting there in the gala, applying nail polish and flipping the passive media off, and winning the damn statue… people started applauding. That was a real nice, warm moment. We, both of us, had spent so many years being the annoying guys in black, making outrageous claims and being accused for destroying the hobby by taking it in all the wrong directions, this was a great sense of community. No bitterness, no envy, just joy. (And rightly so, since we strongly feel this is the Nordic larpdom combining with traditional tv.)
Then we talked in length about Dollplay, and very, very, very briefly about two projects in the pipeline: The Artists and TEVA. To summarize: ”We can’t really say anything about these.” ”But maybe we can say which country it will begin in?” ”Well, it may begin in some individual country, or perhaps not.”
The last programme for me, apart from Erlend’s film, was a jeepform game in the style of talk show. The idea was to do a sort of ”This Is Your Life” kind of show with the audience improvising/roleplaying key points in the person’s life. It’s nice to make these kinds of experiments, but I didn’t really think it worked. It was just over-long impro theatre with no unifying plot, and no point.
After the programme there was plenty of hanging out, and visiting strange parties. The Czechs held a party in their cabin, serving foul tasting alcohol which I countered by bringing them some salmiakki. People sang songs from their native countries, which was surprisingly nationalistic for Knutepunkt, so I introduced myself as coming from the klingon homeworld. I was asked to sing klingon opera, but opted out playing a scene from the tragedy of Khamlet. (Jaakko approved, saying it’s much better in the original Klingon.)
Jukka and Hakkis ran two drinking workshops this year, instead of just the one. One was a secret drinking workshop, so I can’t really talk about that. The other one was a fifteen-minute port wine workshop (porttivartti) where we were joined by a really drunk and young Faroese first-timer, whom I dubbed Junior. He didn’t know who anybody was, which we found hilarious. Had we been less arrogant and drunk, we might’ve told him, but such was not the way of the Knutepunkt Saturday night.
We got some media time for Dollplay in Finland and Sweden. That is nice, but a bit obvious. For us Nordics it feels much more exciting to be noticed by TV Guide! Yeah 🙂
Did you see that? Right there next to a Galactica phone app and a Lost actor joke video! If this keeps on, we may one day be almost as big as the Youtube videos about guys watching a Youtube video about women throwing up!