VidFest UK at the London MCM Expo

This year’s London MCM Expo saw the debut of a new section of the Expo experience – VidFest UK. Bringing together all sorts of online video talent, VidFest UK is an area that celebrates all sorts of popular and upcoming Internet video content.

As well as several stands on the Expo floor that were flooded by lines of Expo attendants waiting patiently for their chance to meet the talented content creators, VidFest UK also took to one of the stages for several panels hosted by each of the online filmmakers. MCM Buzz was there on Sunday to check out what some of them had to show fans this weekend.

Eddsworld

Beginning festivities on stage on Sunday were some of the folks behind Eddsworld: Tom “TomSka” Ridgewell, Matt “wallycube” Hargreaves and Jamie “RageNinteen” Spicer-Lewis. The three of them are continuing the legacy of brilliant animation that was brought to the Internet by Edd Gould with updates on future projects.

Tom opened the panel with a quick and entertaining run-down of what they had in store for the audience with the main pull being the showcasing of the Eddsworld video Space Face (Part One) as well as debuting the first three minutes of Space Face (Part Two). This went down very well with the audience, the videos being hilarious throughout and a joy for any eagle-eyed viewers who spotted any hidden Easter Eggs.

Space Face (Part Two) continues the narrative and hilarity of the first part – a tale of three friends abducted to help fuel a spaceship that runs on vanity – and definitely shows that the second part doesn’t let up on the humour, speeding ahead at warp speed with the jokes both visual and spoken. Tom said that Space Face (Part Two) is coming sometime in November so there won’t be too much of a wait before you can check out the hilarity yourselves.

They then took questions from the audience, such as who was the most difficult person to work with while making a video. Tom went on to explain that animators as a whole can be quite testing, making a funny observation to how video games released, like Skyrim, completely blacked out all animation production for a week!

Another question was on what inspired Tom to make Internet videos in the first place. He told a story of how he discovered the Internet when he was around 10 and watched a video of a guy riding a skateboard down a hill before crashing into a wall that made him laugh and how he just wanted more of that in his life. He also cited Rob DenBlaker and his webcomic Cyanide and Happiness as a very big influence on getting into online comedy video.

Before their presentation was over, Tom, Matt and Jamie all gleefully took to the stage to perform live-action versions of upcoming sketches for Tom’s latest asdfmovie instalment. It comes as no surprise that this went down brilliantly with the crowd.

Simon’s Cat

As Eddsworld left the stage and returned to their booth, the audience was greeted by a couple of people behind the animated series Simon’s Cat including animator Laura Nailor. Simon himself was not in attendance for he had recently got married and was currently on his honeymoon. With his leave of absence, they took to the stage in order to showcase a couple of the first Simon’s Cat videos, as well as the exclusive premiere of the latest video before it had even been shown on the Internet.

The animations showed the adventures and mishaps of Simon and his cat as he tried to go about his day to day while Simon’s Cat strived for attention. Short and sweet and full of laughs, the audience were entertained. The video they premiered was called Catch and was about a very entertaining game of fetch between Simon’s Cat and a dog. The audience loved it, much to the joy of those on stage.

Catch was said to be online soon so make sure to look out for it. Simon’s Cat videos are short, sweet and brilliant. Catch certainly continues on in all those respects.

Questions from the audience followed, such as where the concept of Simon’s Cat came from. It turns out that creator Simon Tofield originally started Simon’s Cat as a learning exercise. Simon wanted to learn how to use the program Flash for animation, and so he started drawing Simon’s Cat in its black and white minimalist art-style in order to learn how to animate. As Simon’s Cat rose in popularity online, Simon decided that he would continue to draw the animations in that style and has continued to do so ever since.

Another question looked into the future of Simon’s Cat, such as whether there were any longer-form projects on the horizon. They are certainly exploring the possibility of longer videos, potentially even a 30-minute version (compared to the usual 1 – 2 minute animations), even with a feature being a potential experiment, but they were swift to maintain that it would be a long time before a feature could be realised.

The Bloody Mary Show

The tone changed from the simple but effective animation Simon’s Cat to the dark comedy web-series The Bloody Mary Show. Several people involved with the series came to the stage: writer and producer Darren Chadwick-Hussein, director Victoria Howell, and actors Craig Daniel Adams and Elizabeth Webster (the latter in-character as Viscera).

Their panel opened with a trailer for the show. Originally giving a rather dark tone, the show soon switched into more of an entertaining comedy that involved the Bloody Mary myth with a Mary that wasn’t actually that bad. A supernatural dark comedy, The Bloody Mary Show certainly looked like an interesting project.

On-stage chemistry was ever-present with the cast and crew for The Bloody Mary Show with lots of jokes and laid-back comments between panel members. It certainly looked like they were a very close filmmaking family, with Webster‘s character Viscera constantly switching up the tone and entertaining the audience.

The premise for the show as explained to the audience: It’s a British web-series that involves urban legends such as the Bloody Mary being personified and who all hang out with each other in a bar called Hemmingways – the bar where everybody knows your name and says it three times.

The Bloody Mary Show certainly looked engaging with its twist on urban legends, plus the interactions between those on stage showed that they all definitely love the project and had a good time filming it.

Questions soon followed, such as what other web-series do they enjoy watching. Several titles were named such as The Guild (a running example that was brought up in the panel) and The Syndicate (also directed by The Bloody Mary Show director Victoria Howell).

One of the final questions asked was if they thought that a web-series could ever be picked up for television, to which the response was that it’s possible and it has happened. Howell even noted that her web-series The Syndicate actually had a run on television in San Francisco. Chadwick-Hussein expanded on things by speaking about how he would love to franchise out The Bloody Mary Show, describing how you can’t copyright Bloody Mary but you can copyright the situation.

The Underwater Realm

The final panel to take to the stage at VidFest UK was some of the cast and crew of the ambitious project The Underwater Realm. Before introductions, there was finally an explanation towards the mysterious shells scattered about the hall with QR codes on. The Underwater Realm team had spread them around as part of a competition.

There were in fact two competitions that they ran throughout the London MCM Expo: one was to use the QR code to find directions in order to try and win a replica of a knife from their production – the only other copy being at Weta Workshop in New Zealand – while the other was to tweet quotes from the panel in order to try and win a pair of Atlantean blades that were made for their production.

After these announcements the panel opted to introduce the project through an 8-minute video, the contents of which were astounding. The Underwater Realm was introduced as one of the most ambitious independent film projects imaginable. Funded in part by Kickstarter (where they amassed $101, 610), the cast and crew set out to create five films that spanned the course of history where an Atlantis existed and when its people came in contact with those above water.

The video was mind-blowing. It showcased just how much time and effort was put into realising such an ambitious dream. From the underwater filming to the special effects to the sets that were built, The Underwater Realm looked fantastic.

As the video ended, the audience was introduced to the panel: director David M Reynolds, producer Alan Mandel, actresses Amanda Piery and Harriet Moran as well as production designer Shahriar Abdullah.

They all gushed about how amazing and brilliant the project was and it definitely showed in the content that was showcased. All throughout the panel they showed just how much love, care and attention was put into the project, including research that generated the logical geographical position for Atlantis, as well as the generation of Tolkien-esque maps for the world they had created.

Many influences were named in the panel, all of them pitch perfect for the tone they were going for: Middle-Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts, Pandora and Westeros. In the footage shown and the other materials presented, all of these influences could be seen in The Underwater Realm’s DNA. It was very interesting and satisfying to see dedicated fans and creatives generating their own expansive worlds with the ambition to realise them in five short films.

The Underwater Realm certainly blew everything out of the water, so to speak, with its dedication. Watching the video and hearing the panel talk about the different time periods they were using and why, of the world of Atlantis they built and their complicated filming process as well as the worlds above the water, The Underwater Realm was the perfect culmination of VidFest UK this year at the London MCM Expo.

In the video presentation for The Underwater Realm, director David M Reynolds cited this quote to artist Michelangelo: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” This speaks not just to The Underwater Realm but the rest of the online content generators seen at VidFest UK as well as all other creatives in the world.

Very poignant and very real, it was a pleasure to see some of the Internet’s biggest stars take to the stage and show us in person just how passionate and dedicated they are to their craft. Bring on the next VidFest. It’s definitely a go-to appointment in your Expo schedule.

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1 Comment

  1. Gareth Ross says:

    What happened to Rooster Teeth?

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