IGTM is what I consider to be one of the finest examples of Documentary, done right. With the amount of awards and attention it's gotten, you'd be hard pushed to say I was wrong. Not only does it successfully manage to successfully document a series of events [which any decent documentary should be able to do as a minimum requirement] but it also successfully manages to capture the emotions and thoughts of the individuals focused on.
Officially speaking, I'm no Movie Critic. Maybe what I've just said sounds like a no-brainer, you're probably thinking: "Well of course it shows what happened and what the people were thinking, that's what Documentaries are all about, aren't they?" Well you'd be half right, most documentaries seem to only document things on a very superficial level, based on what the camera sees and that which takes place visually. Behind this however, are the emotions and thoughts of the individuals going through the experience; the real experience and substance of these events.
It's incredibly easy for anyone, not just filmmakers, to start rolling their cameras and simply film what's right in front of them and present the scenes chronologically with not much editing, but I consider that bad film documentary practice. To correctly composite and work around the limitations that are present when having to plan cinematography for a live event [i.e the events as they unfold before the camera are as raw and unrehearsed as things get for a filmmaker], and then being able to correctly edit and compose those artefacts in the editing room is where a good Documentary proves itself.
What does all this pretentious nonsense mean? I'm basically saying any idiot can record what's happening in front of them, but the real magic and skill comes in editing those clips in a way that makes sense, and augments | clarifies the thoughts of the people involved through clever camera work and style of editing. This is where IGTM excels, throughout the whole film, the emotions, thoughts, desires, and concerns of everyone involved is clearly reflected throughout consistently as a result of excellent editing. A clear message is shown in the film of what it means to be an Indie Developer, and most issues that you expect to be brought up in some shape or form have indeed made it into the final cut. From the backstabbing business partner you thought you could trust, to the neglected partner who suffers the lack of emotional comfort due to long hours of you working away on the game, to the secluded and reserved intellectual who toils away by himself until the project is to his liking; it's all here.
The pace at which the film picks up is subtle and seamless. A good start, where we focus about the positive nature of what perks indie development has, and building an expectation of wonder and excitement at the possibilities and freedom behind the process. We then slowly build up to the point where the cons begin to show themselves throughout the process organically, and show what is happening to each individual. Nothing is sugar coated, and there are no ambiguous moments where something is left unexplored.
The transition between each developer does not feel abrupt. The sequences run in parallel very loosely | generally, we begin with the origins of all 3 games the film focuses on, before running through the development process with each project. Then we move onto the promotional stages of the game, before finally reaching the release. Each step is carefully recorded with the designers | developers clearly answering very well presented and prepared questions from the IGTM production team. For any question that pops into the viewers head, it's a question asked at some point or another in this film in some similar fashion. The film even thinks to ask questions to which we are surprised to consider, giving us an even more fascinating look into the entire process.
For those aspiring to become indie developers, or those wishing to become a 'bedroom coder', IGTM is a clear and defined path to follow in terms of philosophy. It does not glorify or embellish the work that goes into producing these games, it simply shows indie development for what it really is. Very little footage is shown of the games actually being made, it deliberately ignores the technical side of the subject, and simply focuses on the philosophies and outcomes of each person's hard work, allowing the viewer to decide which of the developers they most agree with, and if their own thoughts coincide with one of them. Hopefully, this all amounts to providing motivation to budding developers, which results in them taking their first few steps forward in potentially becoming the next big indie developer.
So what has the film achieved? For already current indie developers, it presents a contrasting experience that they can relate with, offering some sort of validation that yes, they've been through the same thing, and they share the same hopes and concerns that they do. This wouldn't have been as effective if the style of presentation within the film was more reserved or censored to omit the more raw and personal moments of the people involved.
For hopeful game developers, the film presents a good initial start by building up motivation with a generally optimistic few minutes of "it's great being indie", offering initial encouragement for those wanting to take their first few advances towards following the developers' footsteps. Then as the first half is over, the film then finally shows the other side of the coin, as the realistic problems and pressures of the world dawn on the developers, what it means to successfully deal with those problems, if there is indeed a correct way at all [or at least a few possible ways of doing so]. It shows them what lies ahead, but also the conclusion of why it's something worth fighting for.
For gamers, it adds a little bit of incentive to realise that there are different types of games out there, and that there are individuals who have polished their array of skills to producing high quality content in a different arena to that fought by the bigger developers and publishers. Indie Games have picked up in popularity over the years, and this film clearly shows gamers why they should continue to show support, or why they should consider giving that support if they haven't done so already. It offers a glimpse into another world outside of AAA development.
I recommend buying the film for anyone who has interest in Video Games in any shape or form. Whether you are working in the industry as a professional or are an indie developer yourself, or maybe you're just a gamer, or perhaps you've thought about getting into the industry in general; this film is for you. To those not interested in Video Games, this still presents a deep insight into the lesser seen scene of the industry, in the same way the progressive | indie scene developed years ago for the music industry. In any case, there's something in this wonderfully constructed documentary for everyone to take away. It's very human and relateable regardless of its featured content.
Length: Approx 2 hours [The length feels perfect when viewing].
There is also an extended version available.