Update: due to some last-minute changes, the public première of STÖMOL is now slated for July 24th – details at the end of this article.
STÖMOL is an ambitious feature-length science fiction machinima filmed entirely in Second Life and due to première on You Tube on Thursday July 23rd, 2020.
Written, directed filmed and produced by Huckleberry Hax, who also takes the lead role of Epi Stömol, a private investigator. Also appearing in the film are Caitlin Tobias as Waarheid and who is also the film’s assistant director and publicist; Ylva as Verity Certain, Boudicca Amat as Istinito Tatsache, Anthony Wesburn as Adevaru) and Mich Michabo as The Quill.
Stylistically, the film is very much shot in the style of an animated graphic novel – think of the likes of Sin City and you’ll get the idea – that grew out of Hax’s writing and Second Life photography. In all it has taken some 18 months to produce, and involved filming in more than 15 regions around Second Life. These include Zee9’s evolving Drune builds, which I’ve featured in these pages on a number of occasions (see: Drune IV: an Aftermath in Second Life, and Drune: a further visit in Second Life, for example), and the (now sadly passed into history) Kun-Tei-Ner by Lotus Mastroianni and Fred Hamilton (see: Kun-Tei-Ner: a water world in Second Life) and Huntington Beach, designed by Jade Koltai, although it has also since passed into a the pages of history (see: A trip to Huntington Beach in Second Life).
Described as being about “history” in the form of climate change and “truth” – topics that should both resonate with an audience, given the current geopolitical situation in the modern world – STÖMOL is framed around the search for a pair of missing coders, a boy and a girl called the Eye and the Quill respectively, who may hold the key to unlocking the truth about Earth’s current situation- or perhaps they represent something else.
Official history tells us the sky turned red after an asteroid hit the planet and a trillion particles of dust got blasted into the air. But some people say that’s a lie. They claim we did this to ourselves.
They can’t prove any of it. From 1990 onwards – seventy years of history – there’s official conglomerate media only. Systems today don’t recognise the file formats from back then. ‘Digital Hygeine,’ they tell us.
– From STÖMOL
Despite these focal points within its narrative, STÖMOL is a film that came together somewhat organically, rather than building from a set story. Discussing the development of the idea during a segment of Lab Gab, Hax noted the the filming of scenes would take place as locations in Second Life were identified, with the structure of the story not emerging until some 50% of the filming was completed, the actual script / dialogue then following from that.
This is, to say the least, an unusual approach to shooting a film, and appears to be borne out of Hax’s experience with the National Novel Writing Month, an event that takes place globally every year and in which writers are encouraged to write a 50,000 novel across the 30 days of novel – but not to edit or revise as they write, instead allowing the story to shape itself.
Which should not be taken to mean STÖMOL is in any way haphazard. Quite the reverse; the film demonstrates a high production quality, with many considered creative choices. It is also a film that carries with it a certain twist at the end (although the clue is there from the beginning – will you spot it?), whilst offering a certain amount of hat-tipping to the likes of Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 without ever feeling at all derivative.
However, while I’ve been able to see the film in advance of its release, I’m not going to go into further details here, as I have no wish to spoil the public première, the details of which are:
- When: Friday, July 24th, 2020 at 15:00 SLT.
- Where: Linden Town Hall Island – seating for up to 200 people.
- Or via Huckleberry’s Hax’s You Tube channel.
I’ll also have a personal review available following this public première. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek, and you can catch more on the STÖMOL website.