Lucinda McNary, based in Kansas City, is now retired, and has had enormous success getting her movies distributed on television and elsewhere. She majored in Biology and Psychology and worked most of her life as a secretary.
Short Fuze: Hi, Lucinda, thanks for talking to us. You're one of the real success stories of the machinima world.
Lucinda: Well thank you. I never knew it would come out like this when I started.
Short Fuze: How long have you been making movies?
Lucinda: Three and a half years. I started with The Movies.
Short Fuze: How did you come to that - you're not exactly the typical The Movies buyer?
Lucinda: I saw an ad for it, and as I like Sims type games I thought it would be fun. I had no idea I would end up making movies.
Short Fuze: Do you play many games?
Lucinda: Not a lot. I used to play Sims a lot, and my children played Sims when they were younger. And I like the Law and Order and CSI games. I don't have time for that any more.
Short Fuze: Did you have any experience in making movies before you started with The Movies?
Lucinda: Not a thing, although I have always been an artist and I have always written stories. I like drawing people and outdoor scenes mostly. I did batik most of my life and silk painting. My father taught me to draw in perspective when I was four years old. That and reading was all I wanted to do.
Short Fuze: So you've always thought of yourself as a creative person?
Lucinda: Yes, since I was practically a baby. I always showed my work in artshows, but I didn't have time or money to do this full time the way I do now.
Short Fuze: Did you ever want to make movies before discovering The Movies?
Lucinda: I never even thought about it, as of course it is a lot of physical work and very expensive. It was a bit of a surprise to find myself making movies! But it is a way to combine, art, music, writing and acting, and that is what appealed to me because I love all those things.
Short Fuze: What sort of movies did you start off making?
Lucinda: I wrote stories that came from people I knew, and my own experiences, and made movies that were not always romantic but had romance in them. I wanted to show stories that were real life. Now I have a combination of romance, drama, comedy and crime and mystery and I stick to that, although I found I like to do comedy a lot. I never knew I could write comedy too. Oh, and also music videos. I love music and I've met a lot of musicians.
Short Fuze: How did the collaboration with Vice come about?
Lucinda: Claudiu contacted me. He saw my work on the Moviestorm site, and said he wanted a music video made of one of his band's songs.
Short Fuze: Is this a long-term collaboration with Vice, or was it just a one-off?
Lucinda: Well. after I did This Is It, he gave me permission to use all of their music in any of my movies. I always need music for my movies! It's one of the things that's nice about machinima, the sense of community and sharing. The musicians are great. They promote you and you promote them.
Short Fuze: How much do you engage with the machinima community, both in The Movies days and now in the Moviestorm community?
Lucinda: I was pretty active with The Movies until I started using Moviestorm. Back then, they did not like mention of Moviestorm over on The Movies site at Lionhead so I dropped out of that one.
Short Fuze: Do you find your collaborators through the community, or do you tend to use people you know already?
Lucinda: I mostly find people who come to Moviestorm, but now I have branched out into the general entertainment community, and am using professional actors and musicians. David Zebronex is a friend of Kari from The Prime Spot and that is how I got to know him.
Short Fuze: How has this changed the way you work and what you're producing?
Lucinda: With the pro musicians you get a better quality recording to work with. But actually professional actors are kind of naive when it comes to doing voice overs. They aren't always computer savvy. One actor I am using, Allen Marsh, who has made some films, thought I would have a studio set up and everyone would get together to do the voice overs. I explained to him that people come from all over the world. But he is great. He is adlibbing a lot too with the new voiceovers he is doing for some new projects. Using Allen, because he has IMDB credits and is also from Missouri, will help get the movies on TV here. The amateur actors are just as good though.
Short Fuze: Are you paying your professionals, or have you convinced them to work for free?
Lucinda: I am paying Allen, but two women who are professionals have offered to work for free. Allen is not charging me much, though, as I knew his great uncle John Marsh when I was very young.
Short Fuze: That's handy!
Lucinda: Yes it is!
Short Fuze: So, speaking of professionalism, you've managed to secure some pretty widespread distribution, not just the internet. Where are you getting your films shown, and how did that come about?
Lucinda: All I did was to send my videos on a DVD to Time Warner Cable here in Kansas City and they contacted me. I was very surprised. I plan to send more DVDs to other Time Warner cable On Demand channels. They want stories and they want content that is focused on Kansas City which is why I am seeking KC musicians and actors for my next films. They will put just about anything I do on TV. So far they have shown Yesterday and Many Kinds of Hunger.
Short Fuze: That's fantastic! How many people have seen them?
Lucinda: I have no idea. They will play long term. They have about 250,000 subscriber households in this area, so the potential is fantastic and it is a free channel.
Short Fuze: Should more machinimators consider this as an outlet for their films?
Lucinda: Absolutely! I have been trying to encourage other people to contact their local cable stations. I think they will be very surprised at the response to their work. Most local stations want content that is related to their own city, i.e. musicians, actors, stories. It is a fantastic feeling to see your work on TV.
Short Fuze: Is it just mostly a matter of thinking of distribution outside the Net, having wider perspectives?
Lucinda: Yes, you have to go outside the internet. In spite of the fact that TV and movie distribution is becoming widespread on the internet, there is a big market out there. I did two films promoting Long Beach California, The Ladies of Linden and the 2nd Saturday Artwalk. They were shown in Long Beach at the Gallery Eleven Seven and they also play, along with about 9 other videos, at a cafe there called Good Vibes. I am sending films in this year to film festivals. And someone saw my work on LinkedIn, and told Hollywood Branding, who contacted me about doing that cell phone movie theater PSA which they re marketing to ad agencies. I knew I liked what I did but I never knew other people did too.
Short Fuze: So, changing topic slightly, what is it that brings you to Moviestorm?
Lucinda: The software is fantastic. It is limitless and very easy to use and the results are beautiful. People who know nothing about this are amazed at what we are doing. Big studios pay a lot of money to hire people to do the quality we are even now able to do.
Short Fuze: Do you think that one day you will move into using animation software such as 3D Studio Max, or into live action filming?
Lucinda: I might do some live action but more for background scenes. It is very time consuming. I might get into different programs when I have time to learn them. Since I found out I could learn modding, I have more confidence I can learn other software, but I really like Moviestorm.
Short Fuze: What do your family think of your movie-making?
Lucinda: LOL, they think I am too busy! Actually they like what I do a lot but they get tired of me doing this all the time.
Short Fuze: That's a common story! Do they join in?
Lucinda: Yes my daughter acts in my movies and she co-wrote GONE. She adlibbed all her dialogue for GONE. My son acted in one movie. I am going to do some videos of my daughter dancing and have her dance against a Moviestorm set. She is a great dancer. She acts. She can mimic all kinds of voices and manifestations. She has been able to do that since she was little. My son is a good actor too and singer. I want to make a business that they can take over.
Short Fuze: So you definitely see this as a business now, not just a hobby?
Lucinda: Yes, I do.
Short Fuze: Can you make money out of machinima? A lot of people have tried.
Lucinda: I believe you can. Right now I am getting promotion out of it but in the future with this connection with Hollywood Branding there is a potential for commercials made of machinima. I think the best potential would be to get a script or a movie idea sold in the movie industry. But animation is more and more popular and because of the technology getting better and cheaper, we will do amazing things on our home computers. We can do for a few thousand dollars what these studios are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to create now. If you have the technical and artistic skill you can do something with it. A lot of people give up too soon.
Short Fuze: It's always good to see people who teach themselves how to make movies and use machinima as a springboard to working professionally. What would you say to a young machinimator who's just starting out and has dreams of a professional career?
Lucinda: Gain the technical skill and go to college. Get some business knowledge and learn how to promote themselves and never give up no matter what anyone tells you.
Short Fuze: Who are your favourite machinimators right now? Any films you'd really recommend?
Lucinda: I like a lot of the film makers on Moviestorm i really like, especially J. T. Kellerman who has been using Moviestorm to blog about her new book, Shadowed Summer. I am interviewing her myself.
Short Fuze: So, to finish off, what's your main goal for 2009?
Lucinda: I want to get GONE on TV and send it to film festivals. I am refilming the whole thing. And I want to finish this sit com pilot for Ed Wood. And I plan to make more sets that are painterly and have stories that take place as if the person is walking into a painting. And I plan to do more Kansas city related films.
Short Fuze: That's pretty ambitious!
Lucinda: I work really fast. Gone will take about a month. The program has just improved so much since I finished it in June. I can do a lot better job with it.
Short Fuze: Thanks for talking to us, Lucinda. It's been a pleasure. We wish you every success.