Retro gaming addiction is something that all of us at Arcade Attack can empathise with. But what if it goes too far? The Hedgehog is a wonderful short film that you can watch here (below). We caught up with the filmmakers Chris Lee and Paul Storrie to find what inspired them.
The Hedgehog was a very powerful short film, exactly how did the idea to create this film come about?
The idea grew gradually over a long period of time. It all started with the intriguing visual of a boy dressed in a blue lycra Sonic costume, and then a story bloomed from there.
Can you describe the process it takes to getting an initial idea to a finished film?
It’s a very long and challenging process turning an idea into a finished film. Firstly there’s getting your script in order, then gathering a cast and crew, searching for locations, building props, sets, costume. Then the shoot itself whereby you battle budget and time constraints (plus the weather). And after that, crafting the edit, sound and music. It’s all very time consuming and tough work, but we love it and it’s hugely rewarding seeing it all come together at the end.
How long did it take to make The Hedgehog from start to finish?
It’s hard to say an exact amount of time spent on the project as we progressed it gradually when we could. Overall, it was a couple of years between the idea coming about and the film being completed. We spent 3 days in total on location but it was a good fews weeks beforehand preparing everything from rehearsals, to set design, to storyboard & shot list.
What made you choose Sonic the Hedgehog as a theme for the film?
Sonic is a global icon of gaming culture and he has been an idol to young kids for over 20 years. He is also a surreal blue hedgehog. Who else?
Did you consider getting the boy to dress in an other video game character clothing before you went with Sonic? E.g. Mario or Donkey Kong.
It was always Sonic, right from the off. Expressing a sense of childhood nostalgia was always a big aim, so Sonic just suited the role perfectly, being a teenager himself.
The film seems to look at obsessive bahaviour and how a man can potentially waste his life if he gets addicted to one thing. What made you choose video games as this particular demon?
We were drawn to video game obsession in particular because it is an activity that children and young adults spend a lot of time doing. We wanted to explore the extreme effect of a childhood infatuation.
Do you think video game addiction is a serious problem in this country or has the media over-hyped the problem?
It is no more or less of a problem than any other addiction. All obsessions have different degrees of severity and can be dangerous paths to tread. All games are addictive on some level, but its seriousness as a problem really depends on the user and their own mental health.
Towards the end of the film you get see a room full of video games, consoles, toys and gadgets of the bygone era. Was this filmed in someone’s actual room or did put all these
The bedroom was created for the film. It was in fact someones living room to begin with. Our production designer, Rob Griffin did an amazing job of bringing it to life and creating just the environment we envisioned.
The two characters of the film both seem so lonely, with the only real difference being their age. I saw the film as almost a view into the future for the poor boy. Have I fully understood the message you aimed to get across?
That is certainly one way of looking at it. We always wanted it to remain open for interpretation in order for it to be a discussion point.
As a short film without dialogue, we hope it continues to engage many viewers on different levels.
Your film is up for a number of awards, what does it mean to you that your film is being viewed do positively?
The film was nominated for an award at London Short Film Festival earlier this year. Besides that we have been selected for a number of film festivals around the country. It was always a challenge from the start to make a film that would speak to people so its been great to hear back from audiences in festivals and online.
Are you both fans of video games?
Yes we are. The both of us grew up playing all sorts of games and still enjoy playing.
Are you fans of the Sonic Hedgehog series of games? And if so, what is your favourite Sonic title?
The first Sonic game was a landmark in video game history and will always remain a favourite to this day. However, since he went 3D, he hasn’t quite been the same (can’t argue with that – Ed).
Both the actors gave very powerful performances. Who are the two actors involved and what do they think of the film?
For Peter Brookes (the boy) this was his first major role in a short film so it was a new experience for him, needless to say he was very professional and took on the character and direction with great attitude and ability.
For Philip Herbert (the man) he is an experienced actor with diverse attributes. He connected with the role effortlessly on a strong and convincing level. They were both happy to be involved.
The films bleak conclusion is very sad – what was it like filming the final few scenes?
The final scene is very sobering and filming on it was quite a sombre affair also. Philip delivered a great performance throughout.
Paul – Old school: Streets of Rage – I put a lot of hours into that back in the day. New school: Obvious choice but I’d have to say FIFA just because of the hours that I’ve put into it consistently over the years.
I cant think of a favourite! I admire most classic arcade games like Pacman,, Space Invaders and Donkey Kong that remain as fun today as they must have been to play in the 80’s. I think Final Fantasy 7 was a game changer for me, it got me into story based games. Metal Gear Solid opened up new levels of experience and Silent Hill 2 was scary. Retro games like Alex Kidd in Miracle World was a firm favourite since it was the first game I remember owning. Donkey Kong Country was fun and I also loved Super Mario Kart on the SNES. Recent games like COD and The Last of Us offer engaging gameplay and great story.
Which video game character would you most like to share a few pints with?
Crash Bandicoot would probably be a good laugh or maybe Abe from PS1 Oddworld series. He could do with a good drink.
What projects are you working on now and how can our readers keep up to date with your latest films?
We are currently working on a couple of short film scripts, which we plan to shoot this year. One of which is titled “Performers’, which follows a group of colourful street performers on their day to day struggle to entertain the public a make a living on the streets of London. Everything we make is put on out vimeo page so that would be the best place to go. Follow us there to stay connected.