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Sunday, January 8, 2023

HELLO TO HOLLYWOOD: WAARHEID, SL's SECOND FULL-LENGTH MOVIE OPENS TO CRITICAL ACCLAIM – JOSH (THOMAS1 BELLIC), REPORTING.



SecondLife is a Virtual World, created entirely by its residents.  Some residents express their creativity by building lands and homes; others by creating clothing designs and fashions that rival anything found on the runways of Milan.  Still, others express their creativity through interpersonal relationships or images, or music.  

Every once in a long while, someone comes along who combines all those forms of creativity into a full-length motion picture that rivals many of the animated feature films to come out of Hollywood.

My guest today is SL-renowned author and filmmaker, Huckleberry Hax.  I caught up with Mr. Hax at his home, where he graciously agreed to share with our SL Enquirer audience a behind-the-scenes look into the making of his second full-length feature film, WAARHEID. 



Josh (Thomas1 Bellic) JB: What made you decide to make a movie in SL

Huckleberry Hax (HH):  WAARHEID is actually my second feature-length movie. I released my first - STÖMOL - in July 2020 and it went on to come second place in the SUPERNOVA digital animation film festival. There was a bit of a twist ending to that movie and quite a few people asked me for a sequel. I wasn't planning on creating one initially, but I quickly changed my mind. The broader answer to your question, though, is that I love creating stories. I've written a number of novels set in Second Life, so a movie that used it as a platform for animation seemed like a great idea to me. Also, I'd been playing around with virtual photography for a number of years and wanted to see if I could apply what I'd learned through that to a movie format.

JB: Without giving too much away, what is WAARHEID about?

HH:   WAARHEID's a science fiction movie set in a time when the climate has collapsed, and knowledge and information is tightly controlled by the ruling conglomerate government. One of the mechanisms for this control is through 'official history' - a fiction created by the Cong to obscure from people the reality of what has happened to the planet. In the previous movie, a guy called Epi Stömol snatched a couple of young coders who were able to access old media files rendered obsolete by the Cong's 'digital hygiene' policy. He also betrayed Erika Janssen AKA Waarheid - the 'Truth Hunter.' Now she wants her revenge.



JB:Interesting premise for a movie.  I can’t wait to read the novel. ☺  So tell us, how long did this project take?

HH:We started filming in August 2020 and the final touches were made to the film about a week before release in December 2022 - so, 28 months all in.

JB: Who were some of your chief collaborators in this project?

HH: I was assisted throughout by Caitlin Tobias, my assistant director. She also plays the main character of Waarheid. The movie co-stars AvaJean Westland, who played Totuus - a hacker for an underground history movement. My other actors included Strawberry Singh, Ylva, Boudicca Amat, Lydia Lindemann, and Mich Michabo. The movie also features original music from my long-term RL buddy, G J Hicks. My friend, Dizi, designed three of the avatars in the movie (Epi Stömol, Belletristik, and the 'Rachel' avatar she uses for her own brief role). Then there's a huge list of other people, including short parts, movie extras, and the sim/installation owners who made their spaces available to me to film in. And let's not forget all the content creators whose content was used in some way - that list would be endless!

JB: I guess that list would be pretty lengthy at that.  Making a Full-length Movie is quite an undertaking.   Have you, or any of your crew, had experience in the Film industry before this project?

HH: AvaJean is an actor in RL who's had many TV roles, but other than that no. The main thing I bring to this is my history of storytelling and, um, watching movies!



JB: Do you have another movie in mind?  A Sequel, perhaps?

HH:    There are no plans for a sequel to WAARHEID at the moment, no. I do have a new machinima project in mind that I hope to start work on later this year, though it will be a mini-series rather than a movie. I want to try out something different!

JB: What an amazingly complex project, requiring graphic artists, voice actors, multiple characters, scriptwriters, Recording artists, the whole bit.  How were you able to assemble such a diverse crew of specialists to help produce this Movie?

HH: Mostly these are friends of mine in my SL and RL. It's really just a question of getting to know people's strengths and talents, how they might be used (for example, what roles they might be suited to) and what comfort zones they might be nudged just a little outside of where needed. For the role of Totuus, we needed someone new so I put out a casting call on my blog back in May 2021 and we were delighted to audition AvaJean and then offer the role to her.

JB: Did you receive any support or assistance from Linden Labs on this project?

HH: Yes. Lindens were really happy with the movie when I showed them a preview copy back in October last year. They offered to host an inworld premiere at the Film Threat cinema, which was attended by over 100 people on 15 December - it was an amazing evening! They also did a lot of promotion of the film, including via their social media and an episode of LabGab where Cait, AvaJean, and I were interviewed by Strawberry.



JB: Interesting the parallels between Inversum, and SecondLife, especially when the protagonist was explaining why people would want to spend time there.  I like how you addressed what motivates people to visit Inversum…and as a parallel, SecondLife.

HH: And to some extent some of the things being said more broadly about the 'metaverse' in the present mainstream discourse. Though I was less trying to make any sort of specific statement about virtual worlds per se than I was using the Inversum as a metaphor for the narratives and mistruths we're sold by both government and big corporations (hence the 'government' of this world being a 'conglomerate' - it's a commercial organization taking on a governing role). An important tactic that one of the Cong characters in the movie uses to try to persuade Waarheid that his version of history is the more useful one is to claim that it will benefit the poor and the downtrodden - it's a common narrative element that gets wheeled out just before every election (and yet, somehow, after all these claims and promises, we still have people living in poverty...).

JB: You make an excellent point there.  So…What’s Next?  You mentioned a mini-series earlier. What future projects can we see coming from your team of creative minds?  

HH: My next project will be a five or six-part mini-series set in a hotel during the first UK lockdown - a murder mystery, in fact! SciFi will always be my first love (and SL is an amazing place to create SciFi machinima) but I want to try something different now that comes with its own set of new challenges.

Oh, and I also have a new novel coming out early this year - it's called 'Love is a Corrupted Data Stream' and this one *is* a SciFi story. It's set in a virtual world called Pink Dawn, where people upload their brain scans after they die in real life. I've been working on this novel on and off now for a little over two years, so I'm eager to get it finished and out there!



JB: Is there anything else you would like to share with our SL Enquirer readers?

HH: Certainly.   For more information on this, and other projects we are working on, be sure and check out the following links:

People can watch the movie from this web page: https://huckleberryhax.wordpress.com/2022/12/18/waarheid-full-feature-2022/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/huckleberryhax

Website: https://huckleberryhax.wordpress.com/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/HuckHax

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/huckhax

So there ya have it folks. Huckleberry and company have really created something amazing here.  Do yourself a favor and check it out for yourself.  The movie is completely free to view. And stay tuned to the next amazing product to be coming soon to an SL Theater near you.

And tell ‘em Josh sent ya.

Be there.  Aloha!

JB


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