Waiting in lines is one of the cultural practices of the attendees to the SXSW festival. Tonight we did again a very long line around the Ritz Theater in oder to enter the screening of a movie and we couldn’t get in. Yesterday we had the same result. We keep missing the opportunity of watching Iron Sky, a new film made in a participatory way inspired by the free/open source software method of production. Usually you don’t expect that a midnight screening is going to be as crowded in a place like Austin. However, this is what happens during South By. Austin transforms into a crowded city, its downtown starts to be populated by multitudes that move through a simple urban layout (chess pattern) in search of concerts, talks, parties, movies, foods, and different varieties of entertainment. Lines are a sort of award for the organizers of the events, they reveal a little bit of the commitment of the audience, its passion, its engagement. We didn’t care about waiting in line because after having listened to some of the members of the Iron Sky crew (including director and producer) and having watching the trailer, we were eager to see the movie.
The film is an absurd and dark sci-fi comedy about Nazis from the dark side of the moon that try to conquer planet earth in 2018. According to the story, the Nazis moved to the moon after loosing World War II and developed a space infrastructure capable of producing a whole spaceship fleet. The imagery of the film is a parody of the American sci-fi action genre and one can find, at least in the trailer, starships that look like the ones that appear in Star Treck, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica. The special effects are astonishing and reveal the success of Iron Sky in crowdsourcing many of the production and post-production aspects of the film. The best way to illustrate this is with the Iron Sky trailer:
Timo Vuorensola, the Finish director of the movie, explained that the success of participatory film making relies in engaging a community of collaborators that is willing to not only do volunteer work but also donate money and demand the distribution of the movie in their different cities and towns. As other examples of the application of the free/open source software (FOSS) model of production, Iron Sky had an online platform (www.wreckamovie.com) for organizing and distributing several tasks that needed to be completed (visual effects, editing, set and art design, costumes and so on) by professionals and amateurs passionate about the Iron Sky story. In a certain way, we could even say that these volunteers and collaborators were fans of Iron Sky, people who believed in the story world and wanted the film to be completed. The platform provided a space for the collaborators to meet, connect, discuss, and coordinate the different tasks. And the best part of its success is that the platform has continued online providing a service for filmmakers interested in producing movies in new collaborative ways.
There is one more screening of Iron Sky during this hectic week of SXSW. Next wednesday we hope to be able to enter the theater and see what it looks like one of the most funny sci-fi films ever made.