I think the best way to talk about the evolvement of women in machinima, is to tell you a little bit about how I started myself. And, about where I am today.
Machinima is shooting film in a realtime 3D virtual environment or game, using what I lovingly call PPP; Pro/Pre- and Post production.
Originally machinima started from game-reporting; battles were recorded and then shared amongst the users of these games, without any editing at all.
I believe the first machinima came from a game called Doom, and the first storytelling machinima was made in the demo function of Quake – but I am not a historian, far from that. I am a self made machinimatographer.
To this day, I created close to 200 productions, in every possible genre.
I started machinima in 2007, in Second Life, the virtual 3D World in which I create most of my work.
Second Life/SL, like most online platforms, provides many things for many people. You can make it your own - and just like with anything you encounter – you can grab the opportunities that cross your path.
Unlike videogames, SL does not provide you with a purpose .. just like life itself –and it is you that makes it work.
My background lays in artschool and television (I am a goldsmith, a painter, an editor, a camera-woman).
This, has certainly provided the basics for what I do today.
In the Netherlands we quote this famous national football legend (Johan Cruijff) who once said: “ ieder nadeel heb z’n voordeel “ – meaning: any and all disadvantage has its own advantage.
Not knowing the history and the rules of machinima production, it certainly did not hold me back. Learning things the hard way, step by step, made me to what I am today. And I had fun while i took those steps.
A visual production benefits from traditional rules for film and edit.
I will never forget the first sentence in filmschool, my teacher sat us down and after a profound silence announced: film is a close medium.
Machinima is a close medium.
Now, machinima is a new medium, and it needs a new language.
Like Piet Mondriaan, who did traditional paintings before he developed his famous abstract style, I think it is important to master basics, while experimenting too. And when you are learning, you are trying new things too, and so will develop your own style.
I have seen machinima advance in a mayor way, it has grown from gaming reports to art and storytelling. What strikes me is the fun that machinimatographers have when creating their work, and the important role that women have taken.
The fact that women directors are invisuable in the film industry (oh they are there, but not seen), is overcome in virtual reality.
In virtual worlds, opportunities are truely equal – it does not matter where you come from, what color, gender, looks or age, we choose an avatar that represents us and thus overcome many prejudices.
We are our mind, our actions, our art.
I have a strong hunch that this is why women do so well in machinima. Most of us focus on the emotion rather then on the carchases and gunfights.
Also, the gaming world for a long time has been a boys thing, even though girls are catching up fast.
I find that my 14 year old daughter will play Sims3 and Mario Games, opposed to boys her age who's favorite game is Call of Duty.
Machinima is a unique storytelling platform, and I certainly know some men that do very well – but amongst the true talents I find the larger part is female.
Estetics, beauty, emotional EQ, overview – the urge to tell a personal story involving these characteristics, it is a traditional female thing.
Of course, men can do this, and yes – women do create exciting action machinima too.
It is a dangerous path to take, deviding male and female as if they were categories.
Are there dominant themes in female machinima? I see women taking a stand in digital media.
My opinion is based on what i see around me. Not on science.
I run several well attended machinima groups, i founded and produce the Mamachinima International Festival, and produce the 48 Hour Film Project for machinima.
I teach (workshops machinima) at highschools, I speak at congresses. I meet many people that are involved passionately in machinima.
Some of the work that springs to my mind, by female leading machinimatographers:
Phaylen Fairchild: Harbinger
This mixed reality machinima has it all! Phaylen mixed not only reality, but found a perfect balance between storytelling and art, and deep personal emotions (fear) and fast action.
Rose Borchovski: Lost in counting, Susa Bubble
A striking visual machinima, deeply sensitive and mysterious, it sets of your imagination in a way that most conventional films can not… Rose writes art machinima. Check out the Big Bang....
Lainy Voom: Push
An experimental machinima, presenting how humans are tied to the mechanics of time. A moving, close to perfection, open for your imagination – a dream.
Toxic Menges: Little Red Riding Hood
The not-so-classic re telling of a fairy tale. Funny and a perfect example of a womans point of view.
She deals with the woolf herself… “well done, Red, I knew you had it in ya”…
What I consider to be my best machinima so far: A Woman's Trial
Based on a short story by Louisa May Alcott, called Happy Woman. A story of a strong woman, caught in her own little World, walking the chosen path right till the end.
There are many - many more…. to mention only a few is insane – and not doing justice to the talented machinimatographers I meet.
My journey is one of passion and vision, and I made it my motto: I want to bring machinima to the world, show what it is and can do. Passion is the source of our finest moments. Without passion, all would be grim and grey.
What women in machinima have in common, is this passion, it is a fire that burns, and not one great machinima has been created without that passion. A film has never been great because of its tecnical aspects, but because of the way it made you feel.
I would like to finish with a quote by Laura Ziskin, a female producer whom I admire deeply.
Laura Ziskin talks about movies, the same way as i see machinima - as the medium of the future…
“Men have built the cities, made and defined the culture, interpreted the world. At no time in recorded history have women been culture-makers.
“Movies are arguably the most influential, important medium in the world. Because women are now making movies, then women’s ideas, philosophy, point of view will seep into that culture. And that’s never happened in history. We can’t even see the impact of that yet.”