Love is in the air, but so is the burning smell of the PSN Valentine Flash Sale.
Here are the titles you can snap up during this lovey dovey Flash Sale.
Battlefield 4 premium
Divinity Original Sin EE
Geometry Wars 3
How to Survive
Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition
Defense Grid 2
Diablo 3 UEE
Far Cry 4
Lego Jurassic World
Rugby World Cup 2015
Sniper Elite 3
Jackbox Party Pack 2
Army of Two: Devils Cartel
Diablo 3 UEE
Far Cry 4
Geometry Wars 3
Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition
Lego Jurassic World
MK vs DC
Rugby World Cup 2015
Sniper Elite 3
Street Fighter Alpha 3
Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix
TMNT: Out of the Shadows
Capcom Fighting Evolution
Castlestorm Complete Edition
Chivalry Medieval Warfare
Double Dragon Neon
Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
Frogger Hyper: Arcade Edition
Greg Hastings Paintball 2
Hard Corps: Uprising
Heavy Fire: Afghanistan
Heavy Fire: Shattered Spear
Joe Danger 2
Raiden IV Overkill
Realms of Ancient War
Sniper Ghost Warrior 2
Street Fighter Alpha
Street Fighter Alpha 2
Street Fighter Alpha 3 max
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
Tales From Space: About a Blob
Ghost Recon Future Soldier
Under Defeat HD
Geometry Wars 3
Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition
Lego Jurassic World
Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus
Soul Sacrifice Delta
It’s Valentine’s Day weekend kiddies. That means it’s time to watch a movie about love.
Not so fast though. Why waste your time in the Kate Hudson rom-com aisle when you could take a trip down a far more dark and uncomfortable path. It’s also the perfect time of year to watch a creepy and unsettling look at relationships, either as a comfort for the perpetually single or a relatable slice of realism for the unhappily coupled. This year, we’re all being treated to the release of the devilishly twisted British horror/comedy/romance/drama Nina Forever. It’s a movie that earns every single one of those genre labels thanks to the inventive imaginations of first-time filmmakers Ben and Chris Blaine.
Through a series of odd n’ entertaining short films (including Hallo Panda, the sweetest short about a professional bear masturbator you’ll ever see), the sibling filmmakers developed a unique voice that’s finally expanded into feature length with Nina Forever. It’s about a morbid young girl named Holly (Abigail Hardingham) who finds herself drawn to a suicidal co-worker named Rob (Cian Barry). Rob hasn’t gotten over the death of his ex Nina (Fiona O’Shaughnessy), but Holly persists in her pursuit anyway. Unfortunately, the long-awaited consummation of their new love is interrupted when a bloody and scared Nina rises from the dead in the middle of their bed. She continues to appear anytime Holly and Rob get intimate, which is obviously a bit awkward. The weird part is, Holly might like it.
So yeah, it’s not exactly your average, everyday love story. Dripping with blood and swimming in difficult emotions, Nina Forever is a tricky film to classify. It’s certainly disturbing enough to be horror and funny enough to be comedy, yet the film is also a rather thoughtful meditation on loss, grief, and the challenge of moving on. Nina Forever is a delightfully twisted debut well worth seeking out for genre lovers looking for something with a little meat on its rattling bones.
The film is also an impressive debut for a pair of fresh filmmakers well worth following. To celebrate the long-awaited Canadian release of their delightful debut, Comics Gaming Magazine got a chance to chat with Nina Forever co-writers/directors Ben and Chris Blaine. We picked their brains about everything from the personal origins of the project to their genre bending ways, the importance of mixing K-Y Jelly with fake blood, and the 2.5-hour Biblical epic that they made in high school.
You know, all of the important subjects.
Comics & Gaming Magazine: All right, boring question first: where did the idea for Nina Forever spring from? Did one of you guys go through a rough relationship?
Ben Blaine: A few! It’s a documentary.
Chris Blaine: It’s something that took a long time to develop into what it is. It’s an idea we’ve been working on for something like ten years, I think. But actually writing it came out really quickly. We’d been going through losing people together quite a lot. So we were in a specific place while writing it, talking about all that turmoil stuff that’s going on in your head. It felt very natural to be writing it at that point, so the first draft came out in I think…three weeks?
BB: Yeah, three or four weeks.
CB: It was really quick and it felt right straight away. So it’s definitely got a lot to do with grief; seeing people go through it and experiencing it ourselves. It’s very much trying to explain visually and metaphorically all of the things that you go through when you lose someone, whether that’s losing them through death or breaking up with them.
CGM: From the short films I found online, it didn’t seem like you guys had made anything in the horror genre before. Was that somethingyou always wanted to play with? Or do you even consider this a horror film?
BB: Well, we didn’t think of it that way at the time, but we do now to be honest. We’ve met enough devoted, passionate horror fans who have said, “What are you talking about? Of course it’s a horror movie. I love horror movies and I love this film.” So I think we’ve had our eyes opened as to what horror is.
CB: Yeah from the outside, the industry jargon says: “This is what the horror audience is and they love their genre beats. If you play with the genre beats that’s great, but you must have X, Y, and Z happening in your film for the horror fans to enjoy it.” That’s bollocks. If you’ve got a dark idea, people who like dark ideas will gravitate towards it. That’s the lovely thing about the horror community: how open it is. People want to talk about stuff that we aren’t normally allowed to talk about. Other people will shut you down and say, “I don’t want to think about that.” But with horror fans, that’s exactly what they’re there for.
BB: Yeah and also, people who aren’t horror fans and have seen the film have been really surprised. One by the fact that they enjoyed the film, but they’ve also been surprised that the fantastical element in it is something that feels very natural and makes sense to them. There’s a weird barrier some people put up where they think, “If the film isn’t about reality and set in reality then it must be silly and I don’t want to know.” I can’t get my head about that attitude at all and what’s nice about the horror crowd is that attitude doesn’t exist. You say, “My dead girlfriend is coming out of the bed.” And they say, “Yeah, and then what happens?” Which is great because that’s how good stories are told.
CGM: How did you approach designing Nina’s look? When I first heard of the idea, I pictured her being a rotted corpse, which probably says more about me than anything else. But you went with something subtler and I’m curious where that came from?
CB: We talked a lot with Saffron Powell who did the make up and she was really integral in designing the type of character that we wanted to create with Nina. She spoke a lot with Fiona O’Shaughnessy who played Nina as well. We’d written something where we’d been trying to communicate a different idea about death. It wasn’t that she was a ghost, it wasn’t that she was a zombie, and it wasn’t that she was a corpse. It’s her experiencing what it’s like from the other side and trying to convey that experience. So it felt like she needed to be different. There’s such a desire for her to still be around, so she can’t be a monster. She can’t just be scary. There has to be that draw and she has to be beautiful. Saffron tried out a lot of different skin tones and she designed a whole body sheen that she put on Fiona that felt otherworldly. With all the glass that’s sticking out of her, in some scenes they used crystals to give her an odd sparkle. There’s a certain beauty to her, so that you’re not just thinking, “This is hideous.” You’re also thinking, “But it’s kind of pretty.”
BB: Yeah and they would change it up. So sometimes it would look more painful and like glass. Then other times there would be that odd beauty. It was really nice then in the edit to be able to choose to a degree, so that we could mix and match visually and use the Nina that we love in some scenes and then one we’d want to go away in others.
CB: Yeah and in terms of where the injuries are, there was a lot of discussion with Liam [Doyle] and Dan [Martin] who designed the prosthetics. They asked us where the injuries were so that they could cut as many arteries as possible as quickly as possible so that she was definitely dead. But also we kept all of the injuries on her face to one side, as if she tried to cover half of it when the accident happened. That way, she can turn and change from being beautiful to horrific in the moment.
CGM: How was shooting Nina’s introductory scene? It seemed like it would have been tricky and also rather sticky?
BB: Sticky, that’s the word.
CB: Yeah, that scene became quite infamous for our crew. It took ages to actually shoot it. We kept having to come back to it on different days when we were supposed to be shooting something else to pick up another bit from scene 13.
BB: Obviously it was scene thirteen.
CB: It had to be scene thirteen. Yeah, it was quite difficult to do, with all the fake blood. We’d never really done a horror film, so the amount of fake blood we’d used before was very little. Suddenly we were covering actors with blood and then saying, “Alright, act away!” Then after about thirty seconds they were stuck to the bed and couldn’t stand up. So to work out how to make it so that the stuff stayed liquid rather than turning into glue was tricky. By the end we were adding loads of K-Y Jelly to the blood. They were lubing the blood up so the actors could move, which was a little strange.
BB: We caused a run on KY Jelly in South London.
CB: Yeah, we sold it out in the local supermarkets.
BB: Our runners were turning up with arms full of K-Y Jelly saying, “It’s not for me, it’s for a film I’m making, but not that sort of film!” It wasn’t good.
CGM: What was your motivation behind shooting such an intimate story in a wide scope frame? I’d imagine that led to many difficulties with blocking and composition in confined spaces.
CB: Well a big part of it was finding ways of making something that you’re shooting on a small budget cinematic. You want to be outside of the frame that everybody is used to. Talking with Oliver Russell, our DOP, we were drawn to films used in 2.39:1 as inspiration. It definitely was causing problems in terms of finding a space to use for the flat, because you obviously have to get further back with the camera. We talked to our production designer Damien Creah about the type of flat that he imagined it being and it’s the type of flat that only exists in his head, but not in real life. We said, “Yeah, that looks perfect,” and asked if he could build it. He laughed and said, “Not for your budget.” So we started looking and couldn’t find anything and he got angry for a while. Then while he was angry with us, he went and found a studio that would let us shoot in it for very little money. It was a studio that was used to shoot an old daytime British talk show called Richard And Judy and he persuaded them to let us shoot there for really cheap. Then he built the set out of stuff that he got off of Freecycle.
BB: He’s an absolute genius.
CB: Yeah, he almost killed himself building it.
BB: Which is appropriate, really. The nice thing in terms of that ratio is that it actually gives you three sections of the screen for the actors, which worked for us. When you take one of those three people away, it really gives you a hole in the frame that you feel. So we used quite a lot of gaps in the frame.
CGM: I was impressed by how you were able to make mundane locations feel so moody and creepy. How did you approach that? Is it just how you see the world?
BB: Yeah, we grew up in some really mundane locations. It’s filmed in the South London version of the North London that we grew up in. We really know mundanity.
CB: Yeah and then trying to make it feel very real and ordinary, but also having something special about it was tricky. That resulted in hunting and hunting until we were satisfied with the right place. For the opening shot, we had about 15 people helping us find the right corner of a road somewhere that would have the sun rising over the sea in the distance. It took ages to find it and it eventually came when someone contacted Ben asking for advice on a short film that he made. He just happened to mention that the short film he’d made was set in Cornwall.
BB: Yeah, he asked for advice and then said if he could ever help us shoot in Cornwall to let him know. So I sent him a picture we’d drawn of that spot and asked, do you know any place like this? And he said, “I drive past that every morning.” So it was like, “Ok, we’re coming to your house right now.”
CGM: The performances and dialogue in the film are impressively naturalistic. Was that all tightly scripted or did you improvise with the actors at all to find the right tone?
BB: Well, it was very tightly scripted. It’s that thing of: the more space you give actors, the more they absolutely learn the lines. And the more you try to tie them down, the looser they get. We did work in a very loose way with the screenplay. We wrote it very quickly and were very fluid with how we work on it. So often we’d take dialogue away or respond to their performances and shape the thing together.
CB: Yeah, so often when we talk about the way we work, we use words like ‘liquid’ and ‘fluid.’ It’s kind of like the blood on the bed. If it’s liquid, it’s going right. If you’re getting stuck, that just means you’re not moving. We don’t like anything feeling written in stone until the film is finally finished.
CGM: Do you think that you’ll continue to play around with the horror genre in the future?
CB: Yeah, our eyes have been opened quite a lot actually. Between making Nina Forever and going to the horror festivals, realizing the scope that there is to play with in the horror genre was quite enlightening. The thing that we’ve always really loved is creating something ostensibly that starts out feeling like it’s in a genre and then goes wherever the hell it likes. I think that as long as we get to do that, then we’re enjoying the process.
CGM: Is it true the first movie you ever made in high school was a two and a half hour biblical epic?
BB: Yeah, we did that.
CB: It was made over a summer holiday and revolved around the idea that our mate Keith was a devote atheist and we always liked to joke that he was actually the second coming of Jesus, but he just didn’t believe in himself. Then that just became one very, very long joke. We managed to pull in all of our mates and do this thing on a VHS camera over a summer, running around in sheets and beards.
BB: Yeah, we’re very thorough. It’s a good thing now in a project like Nina. Back then, it meant that as a joke we’d say, “Yeah, we’re going to film The Bible. Well, we’d better not miss out on one thing and shoot the whole Bible. Otherwise we’re not giving it our all.”
CB: Yes, we went right from the beginning to the end of the world with that one.
Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is almost here!
Today players can wet their appetite with a new trailer featuring 12 new maps that are being introduced in Garden Warfare 2.
The 12 new maps are incredibly diverse in landscape and atmosphere. They range from a snowy Great White North, to the anti-gravity Lunar Landing, to the portal ridden Time Park and many, many more.
Being an avid Garden Warfare player, I truly look forward to the mass amount of new maps being offered to plants and zombies alike. With so much variety, it will make online matches more exciting and less stale. Bring on zombies in space!
With the release of Firewatch today, we got the chance to speak with the gal on the other end of Henry’s walkie-talkie, Delilah, played by Cissy Jones. She’s an extremely talented voice actor who’s been carving out a name for herself within video games. You might recognize her as Katjaa, from the Walking Dead.
CGM: What’s your favourite role?
Cissy Jones: Well Delilah, from Firewatch. It’s just been so much fun to be able to play the same character for about two years. It was really nice to able to come back to her and to know the banter and the fun and the jokes even the mystery and the suspense and all that stuff. To know how it’s going to flow.
CGM: Delilah, she’s on the other end of Henry’s walkie-talkie right?
CJ: Yeah, she’s Henry’s supervisor and pretty much his only contact throughout the game via walkie-talkie.
CGM: What were the challenges for recording Firewatch?
CJ: There really weren’t many challenges. Sean Vanaman, who wrote the game, really wanted it to flow as a natural conversation as much as possible. So he had Rich Summer, who plays Henry, and I, record from our home studios at the same time and we conference called in and got to record together. Which is so rare in video games. So when it sounds like we’re having conversations and playing off one another, we actually were. It was really nice.
CGM: It’s a shame that’s a rarity then.
CJ: I know, usually you record by yourself, four hours at a time and they record somebody else four hours at a time then they mash it together at the end and hope that it sounds conversational. Sometimes it hits the mark and sometimes it really misses. So it was nice to know that we didn’t take that gamble on Firewatch, Sean was really smart about that.
CGM: How long are your typical recordings? Firewatch ran for 2 years, but they’re not typically that long right?
CJ: Normally, for a big title, unless you’re the lead character, it’s one session, four hours, one and done. That’s what it was for me with Halo 5, I think I did two sessions for Fallout 4, Life Is Strange was a little different cause it was episodic. I would go in every couple of months or so for a couple of four-hour sessions.
It runs the gamut, it just kind of depends on if it’s episodic, if you are a main character or just background chatter, how character driven the story is. Something I did for a game that’s not yet out, so I can’t say the name of it, but I’m a playable character and it’s just a bunch of growling and grunting and screaming. Even though you can play as my character, it was one four-hour session.
CGM: I’ve watched a bunch of promotional footage and it’s just the most natural conversation I’ve heard from a game.
CJ: Thank you, I appreciate that, I know Sean will appreciate that. It was a real big point he wanted to make sure it sounded as natural as possible.
CGM: So, when you worked on Firewatch you only had to play one character, but when you were in the Walking Dead you had to voice several. How do you approach multiple characters and making sure you sound different enough from each one?
CJ: It’s always a concern; you want to make sure your characters different enough so that no one goes, “Wait a second, that’s Katjaa with a southern accent!”
For me, it’s all about character development, making sure you know which character is who, where they come from, what their dreams are, what their fears are and things like that. So when I see the character comes up in session I can just kind of flip back into their shoes, if that makes sense.
Like, Katjaa is a very different character than Joleen and knowing what motivates each one of them really defines the character more than the voice, I think.
CGM: Now with a game like Firewatch and the Walking Dead, do dialogue choices affect how you record?
CJ: Yeah, absolutely. In the Walking Dead, for example, there are several different ways we can respond to a character which in turn will have, whatever character I’m playing, respond differently to him. If he’s kind, I might have a kind response, if he’s a jerk, then I might be a little more on edge.
It’s the same with Delilah in Firewatch. Henry can choose to be really chummy with her and she’ll open up to him and you get to know more about her. Or he can be stoic, standoffish and kind of a jerk and so she can be stoic, standoffish and kind of a jerk to him. So it’s all dependent on character choice which I think is so much fun.
CGM: Do you prefer doing the mocap acting or do you prefer just being in your booth?
CJ: I love the comfort of my booth and I’m kind of a goof ball, so sometimes I do stupid things while I’m recording a character and I love being able to do that for me and not necessarily to have a director go, “That was stupid, what were you thinking?”
I really love the comfort of my booth. Mocap is so much fun and is such a different beast and somebody like Andy Serkis, who does it so effortlessly, is really impressive and hopefully someday I’ll be there, but for now I love being in a booth.
CGM: Is it surreal at all to hear yourself as you watch them?
CJ: It is a little bit. The first time I saw myself, er, heard myself in a game, it was really, really weird. Now it’s kind of fun to be able to watch it and see how it has come together as a complete piece. Cause I’ll do a recording session and sometimes we record 15 different scenes and I’ll never know how it’s going to come together, so to actually see it how they put it in this video game movie, if you will, it’s really kind of cool.
Sometimes it takes me out of the experience but I’m getting to the point now where I can see it and appreciate it for what it is instead of being like, “Oh my god that’s me!”
CGM: So what’s your dream role? Even if someone’s playing it right now.
CJ: It doesn’t get much better than Delilah. It really doesn’t and I’m not just saying that because this is a Firewatch interview. You know, Sean approached me three years ago and said, “I’m writing a video game with a female protagonist, are you in?” And I said, “Hell yes.” He didn’t even know what it was going to be, it wasn’t Firewatch at that point, it was just, I want a female lead, you’re it, are you in? So in a lot of ways he wrote the role with me in mind. It doesn’t get much better than that. It’s been so much fun and to have it be this ongoing experience, you know we recorded for two years and to get to work with Rich Sommer, who’s just a tremendous actor and to see the anticipation for it as it’s leading up to release day, it feels like I’m walking through a dream right now, it’s really cool.
CGM: So what did you bring to Delilah? I know Sean wrote her with you in mind, but was there anything you brought to her?
CJ: Yeah, I’m a dork, I’m a total dork and I think Sean was able to capitalize on my dorkiness and write her to be just a goof ball. I like to have fun, I like to laugh with my friends and kick back with a glass of scotch and I think I brought that to her and him knowing me, at least he said as much it made it a little easier to write her knowing that it would be my voice that would be coming out of the walkie-talkie.
CGM: Do we ever get to see Delilah?
CJ: No, well…. No. But I think that’s part of the genius of it. I think so often when you’re introduced to a character, how they look immediately defines how you feel about them. I love that with Delilah, you don’t get that snap judgment, you have to decide honestly as playing Henry, how you want your relationship with her to be, how do you want it to unfold? Do you just want it to be a supervisor/employee relationship? Do you want a friend out of her or are you looking for maybe more? I think not getting to see her gives you so much more choice.
CGM: Were you given a concept art to work off of or was this all just Cissy?
CJ: They sent me Olly Moss’ paintings and they said, “this is the game” and I was like, “yup, got it.” But in terms of character art for Delilah, no. They sent me a drawing of a tower in the trees and wilderness and that was kind of all I needed.
I grew up in Idaho where that kind of forestry and imagery was my backyard, before I moved to Los Angeles. So it was easy for me to find that groundedness in her.
CGM: So what was it like getting into voice acting in the first place?
CJ: I always like to say I felt like Ed Norton in the beginning of Fight Club before I found voice over work. I had a nine to five… er, nine to nine in Silicon Valley and I was just working myself to the bone and every time my alarm clock went off it was that kind of, noooo!
I was getting ready for work one morning and I heard Nancy Cartwright, who’s the voice of Bart Simpson, talking about voiceover and how much fun it was and the Bay Area, where I lived at the time. Saying that, you guys are so lucky because it has some of the best schools in the country here and I got on the phone that day and started taking classes and really learning acting. I met a ton of people, talking to agents and talking to directors and other talents and a really phenomenal group of people who supported me and bolstered me up and helped me find the confidence to really make the jump.
I got an agent in Los Angeles and my husband and I said screw it, let’s move. So we moved from the Bay down to LA and it has been the best career decision of my life, it’s been so much fun.
CGM: Now I’ve noticed on your IMDB that you’ve had some television appearances, what are some of the differences for you when you go in to act in front of a camera instead of in a booth?
CJ: Well, those roles are actually voiceover. Even though they are television shows, it was just a VO line. I think for Good Luck Charlie I was a telephone operator and there’s a documentary out called Winter on Fire and I’m a narrator. It’s more a talking to time, recording to time, making sure that whatever I say fits in the allotted seconds that I have, but it’s still fun. It’s really cool to see my name pop up in the credits on TV, can’t complain about that.
CGM: Was there anything else you’d like to add?
CJ: I’m really so excited for this game to come out and if your readers play it and want to shout out to me on Twitter I’m @CissySpeaks and I’d love to hear what people think. I’m so excited for people to get there hands on this game and I’d really truly love to hear what people think.
Be sure to check out Firewatch, it’s out on PC, Mac, Linux and PS4 today and be sure to tell Cissy what you think!