In 2006, Web animation viewers watched as beautiful swordswomen battled on a pyrotechnic chessboard. A gladiator with a steam-powered arm fled an army of wraiths. A sorcerer and an angel fought atop a cliff overlooking a fantasy city.
This was BLOODSPELL, the animated epic released online last year and downloaded by more than 100,000 visitors worldwide. Now, the "punk fantasy" has spawned an 84-minute feature film.
"BLOODSPELL was conceived as a feature film," says Hugh Hancock, BLOODSPELL'S executive producer and author of MACHINIMA FOR DUMMIES. "We talked to conventional filmmakers who told us it would cost 3 million [British pounds] to make. I couldn't fund it myself and wasn't likely to get that sort of funding for my first feature film, so I decided to make it another way."
Hancock and his team labored for three years producing BLOODSPELL as a 15-episode series released every two weeks during 2006, creating the visuals by adapting computer game NEVERWINTER NIGHTS, supported by the developers.
They worked unpaid, with a 6,000 GBP budget, supported by consultancy work.
But the result was worth it -- coverage on the BBC, THE GUARDIAN and USA TODAY, and praise from influential media figures -- persuading Hancock to return to his original vision: BLOODSPELL, the feature film.
"We re-shot the opening scenes of the series to take advantage of our experience," explained Hancock. "We recorded new voice, re-edited the entire film, crafted a new soundtrack. It was a lot of work!"
More than 3,000 copies of the feature film were downloaded within 24 hours of release on Oct. 21st.
"It's a triumph of guerrilla cinematography, " said Charles Stross, Hugo award-winning writer and futurist. "If Marvel and DC Comics aren't feeling the chill wind down the back of their neck, they're asleep at the switch."
BLOODSPELL can be download at http://www.bloodspell.com/film/list/.