The Last Creative Storytellers
by Jay Scott

We see a lot of stories in movies today that are as interesting as your typical Blues Clues mystery these days. There seems to be this trend where the formula is “as little story as possible” and way too much action. It's like studios feel that a film can be a two hour action sequence with little to no plot development or story. It's weird. Ever watch a trailer and know exactly what the movie was going to be like, start to finish? It's sad really.

uwebollsucks.jpgBack in the good ol days, we had stories. Character development, interesting plots, conflicts that drove the tale forward. Now, we just have a lot of gimmicks. Like movies based on a series of effects. Just toss in some chit chat and voila, people will pay to see it.

Of course, the studios have found out the hard way that’s not entirely true. People will demand more. Loads of big budget films over the last few years have not made the big bucks, unlike small independents that are all story. Those have been doing very very well.

Cycles. It all runs in cycles. Sadly, studio execs are mostly dim bulbs when it comes to this. There are exceptions, like with anything. It's just rare. I think the last creative storytellers have all ventured into the video game industry. What, you say? Yeah, well follow me on this for a second. I was in on this before it became mainstream. I had been involved with projects that never made it, but they were good, and we didn’t sell them short. I wont say which, but know, I know of what I speak.

In the world of video games, they have much more creative freedom to tell stories. And they don’t make chick flick video games. Thank God for that. Honestly, they weave complicated tales and cover everything we don’t get to see in films anymore. Unless they try and make a film out of a game, which hardly ever works. The thing about a video game is all subject. Not just action, but, subject. They put a lot of effort into the set up, the story. The give us detailed storylines and complicated, but manageable plots. It's funny, because whenever I see a really great game, I think, wow, done right, this would make a great film or series, too bad they will only fuck it up.

Example. Games like “Thief-The Dark Project” which has a very intriguing and fascinating storyline, would make great films, but the studios, always playing down to the lowest common denominator, always muck it up. Games Like the fps, F.E.A.R, which is spooky and interesting, yet filled with action, is another. Popular titles, and they have good storylines, but the problem is, a studio will stray from what made the game work and do whatever they want, thus losing the appeal of the original story. I’m sure everyone knows the list of horrible video game films, crapfests like Wing Commander, Mortal Kombat and, say it aint so, Tomb Raider. Yeah, I totally hated those because they made them too cartoony and could have done so much better.

I think, left alone, and given proper budgets and access, Video game companies should take a shot at making films without the studios. They just need to do what they do in games and not try and “make a movie” but instead, use what they know to tell a story. They are pretty good at that. The film will come out of there not being star struck and beholden to the studios. No, in fact, they should spend a few mill and try something new.

Just sayin.

Jay thinks Leisure Suit Larry would have made a great movie



They do it to books too. Have you seen Flowers in the Attic? What a piece of tripe. Hollywood always thinks they know better than an author or writer. They suck like that. Unless someone is JK Rowling and can pull the deal of the century, then Hollywood is gonna screw it all up somehow.

I just want more musicals.


GREAT article, Jay.

I would love to see the video game writers be given a chance to turn their own games into movies.

And you're so right about the games telling better stories than movies, though I'm torn on that because sometimes I get frustrated with games when their is, in my opinion, too much emphasis spent on the storytelling and art and not enough on the actual gameplay.


Rockstar did a pretty good job with The Warriors. They made an entire backstory to the movie that led right into a pretty faithful telling of the original. Plus a lot of gratuitous violence, of course.


I wonder if the guys making video games could really make a good film. Possibly, but very possibly not.

The real key is to get an actual filmmaker who knows and appreciates a game with a good story to make a good film out of it.

I think the reality with adaptations is, more often than not, the person who made the original art is not who should be making the adaptation. For instance, I think there are few authors out there who can successfully translate a great book they wrote into a great movie script. They're just two very different artforms.

The problem is that shitty filmmakers are hired to try to turn these great works of art into movies, but they make a shitty movie because that's what they do no matter what kind of source material you get.

So again, it comes down to finding the right filmmakers. Peter Jackson with LOTR is a prime example. Or how about the movie version of Contact? I thought that was pretty good, and it used the book while still realizing what kind of changes needed to be made to make it a successful movie.

It seems like they had the right idea with the movie version of Halo, having hired Peter Jackson and other good people to help produce it, but that seems to have fallen through, unfortunately.

I think ultimately, though, it comes down to a need to lock Uwe Boll up in a dungeon somewhere and never again let him out. Or at least have a long, violent talk with whoever the hell it is who keeps funding his godawful movies.


I think a game company could do a good job, but true, getting a REAL filmmaker behind it is essential. I used to own the rights for a game property called "Mechwarrior", and in that case the rights holders were insane. They just had no idea. I seemed like a home run project, but the things that can go wrong are numerous. The key is getting people outside the hacks in the studio system on a project and making it as faithful as possible, without falling into the pitfalls of studio films.

Its a slippery slope, but I think now that the game industry has come as far as it has, its time they tried. They should be hiring people out of film school and creating entire film divisions with the end game already in mind. Bring the filmmaker up in the culture of your product, does that make sense?


Creating film divisions and sort of grooming filmmakers out of school, I think, is a great idea. I don't know if it would work great or not, but I'd be really intrigued to see the results of it. I think it would definitely have the potential to bear some pretty fascinating fruit.

Considering the huge gaming culture, as well, I think a project done that retains some of the unique atmosphere and storytelling of videogames--basically, what you wrote about in the article--could make a huge killing financially, as well.

So yeah, I'd love to see the results of something like that. The question is, would any game company with the resources to pull off such a project actually want to take on the financial risk?


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