'Virtually Heroes' − Video Game Characters Search For Meaning At Sundance
We've come to expect high-concept portrayals of the human condition from the Sundance Film Festival, but next year, virtual humans will get some art-house love, too. I'm talking about G.J. Echternkamp’s feature-film debut, Virtually Heroes, which will get a Park City at Midnight premiere at the festival in January. This is the Sundance synopsis for the film:
Two self-aware characters in a Call of Duty-style video game struggle with their screwy, frustrating existence. To find answers, one abandons his partner and mission, seeking to unravel the cheat codes of life.
Soldiers searching for meaning as they try to escape an endless cycle of pointless violence? If screenwriter Matt Yamashita set the story in Eastern Europe and Echternkamp shot it in black and white, you'd probably already be hearing Oscar buzz. But Virtually Heroes is set in a video game, which is why it will be a lot more fun. I'm going to see as soon as physically possible for the following four reasons:
1. Produced by Roger Corman
Roger Corman has propagated the careers of a a remarkable array of filmmakers via his prolific B-movie production. I'm talking such little-known directors as James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese and low-level actors Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper and Robert De Niro. So when he decides that Virtually Heroes director Echternkamp and screenwriter Matt Yamashida are worth a chance, you should too.
2. Expert Video Gamers
You know a film is low-budget when it doesn't have a trailer. But like any upcoming video-game release, the producers have been flooding the Internet with screenshots, many via the movie's Facebook page. And these shots show they know what they're talking about. You also know the director knows video games when he laments that he couldn't afford as many rocket launchers as he wanted.
Also, Virtually Heroes doesn't just incorporate the standard gaming status display on the screen, which you can see in the above shot. That display features a baseball bat with the infinity symbol, which is a classic shooter-game conceit. Every other weapon has limited ammunition, but the melee weapon — in this case, the bat — can be used forever. Oh yeah, and anyone who includes teabagging in a live-action movie knows what they're doing.