Anthem: Conviction director Neill Blomkamp says games and films will merge

By Steffan Powell
Newsbeat gaming reporter

  • Published
Anthem game footageImage source, EA

"The future of entertainment is going to be along the lines of virtual or augmented reality," filmmaker Neill Blomkamp tells Newsbeat.

"Audiences will be be immersed in a world where they can see and move around in three dimensions."

The director of District 9 and Chappie says he wants to work with people in the gaming industry to learn how it tells stories.

He's created a live action trailer for new adventure game Anthem.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Neill Blomkamp directed science fiction movies District 9, Elysium and Chappie

The trailer, set within the world of Anthem, is called Conviction and sets the scene for the open universe role-playing game.

Set decades before the timeline of the upcoming game, it tells the story of a woman discovered in the jungle who becomes a Freelancer - a fighter in the Anthem universe.

Neill Blomkamp says that if his trailer is well received then he'd like to tell more stories based on the game - through the medium of film.

"I'm interested in the way the games industry talks to its fans, and I'm interested to see how that could crossover into film one day," the Oscar-nominated director says.

Breaking the game-to-movie curse

Image source, EA
Image caption,
Anthem is an action adventure role-plying game made by Bioware, the creators of Mass Effect and Dragon Age

In 2007, the South African director made a short film based on the Halo franchise called Halo: Landfall and was linked with a Halo feature film in the mid-2000s.

"Video games into film adaptations have a kind of negative connotation," Neill says.

"They've not really worked well so far, and so I was interested in trying that again with this particular game - one that feels very rich and full of stories."

In recent years films like Warcraft, Assassins Creed and Tomb Raider have done pretty well at the box office but have not gone down very well with critics.

"There's an elitism in Hollywood when it comes to games," he adds.

"To me it's a highly creative new frontier, it's so undeniably the future I don't see how anyone can argue that it isn't."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Neill Blomkamp (second right, next to the robot) made the film Chappie

What is Anthem?

Anthem is a new action role-playing game from Bioware, the studio behind the critically acclaimed Mass Effect series.

Published by Electronic Arts the game is being heavily marketed and developers have talked about it being the first game in a franchise could last a decade or more.

It's a shared world experience that seems players control pilots wearing exo-suits and battling against beasts and monsters for survival.

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Looking to the future

"I think films will have a place in the future but games - well the term game will disappear - they'll just become interactive virtual worlds you're stepping into.

"For me it's a highly creative space to be exploring," Neill says.

"Audiences will be be immersed in a world where they can see and move around in three dimensions."

Image source, EA
Image caption,
Neill Blomkamp hopes his real time trailer is just the beginning of a bigger movie crossover project with Anthem

The television industry has started exploring being more interactive recently.

Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror experimented with Bandersnatch, a choose your own adventure episode on Netflix last year.

But, looking to the future, Neill thinks that doesn't go far enough.

"VR and AR are slightly different to a tree of choices that is offered to the audience in a two dimensional narrative setting like Bandersnatch."

Neill isn't ruling out working on a game one day: "I do think the amount of expertise that goes into making a game is not something a film director can take on.

"But if I was to come in on a filmic directorial level to be across the tone and design elements, work with actors and flavour the bigger effort then that would be really interesting to me."

Image source, EA
Image caption,
Anthem sees players battling for the future of humanity against threats posed by monsters and mercenaries

For now though he's focused on his live action trailer, made in the traditional way of movie making.

He wants to see if there's an appetite for more content like it to sit alongside the game.

"I think what Bioware's made with Anthem is really cool, and for them to let us experiment and bring into real life was really fun.

"If the audience responds to it well, it can certainly leads to more things and we can expand it's scope."

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