By: Philip Shane
The Myst Documentary Kickstarter Trailer
* * WARNING: This film will capture your geek spirit, spark strong nostalgia, and reveal the passionate devotion that united millions of gaming fans worldwide. * *
“They called us geeks. they called us nerds. One thing that makes us geeks is obsession and passion for details -- for systems, for stories and for genius. We are compelled to solve these puzzles and to explore these worlds. If you know what I mean, I think you have a sense of what this movie is about.”
Philip Shane, Director
In 1993, brothers Rand and Robyn Miller, living in a double-wide trailer on the edge of a forest outside Spokane, Washington -- a.k.a., the middle of nowhere -- changed the home computer industry forever with the launch of MYST, a single-perspective exploration game that had no score, no violence and no set goal other than satisfying pure curiosity. In a world of flashy, shoot-‘em-up, beat-the-clock video game challenges, MYST quietly became the best-selling game of the 1990s.
More than a quarter century later, director Philip Shane is making a documentary film about the lives of the famous brothers as they continue to expand the world of MYST and other video gaming projects. He will also demonstrate how the story of MYST is part of a growing continuum of unsung electronics visionaries who constantly push the envelope of what gaming means. For every new level of innovation created, the next generation carries the torch to build newer, higher levels over the decades.
Through extensive interviews with Rand and Robyn, along with several other gaming and computing luminaries, THE MYST DOCUMENTARY will tell the unlikely story of two brothers with disparate talents and interests, who were able to form a partnership that would revolutionize the way video games are consumed by the public. With few other gaming pioneers to use for inspiration, the Miller brothers were able to break new ground by writing an original script from scratch, creating an entirely new virtual digital environment long before the internet arose, composing an atmospheric musical score, and even recording and acting in short videos via their company, Cyan Worlds. In the following years, Cyan released several sequels, including RIVEN and URU, bringing new sophistication to the MYST universe, while Robyn has branched out with his own separate gaming pursuits.
To date, Philip has completed some interviews and preliminary filming of the Miller brothers and others who helped bring the MYST saga to life. But the MYST DOCUMENTARY project still needs YOUR help to bring this story to life on screen.
Philip has determined that additional and substantial funding is needed to complete the primary filming required before it can be turned into a concise, entertaining cinematic story. For the next few years, Philip wants to capture the creative processes of these gaming masters and their collaborators. In addition, the filmmakers need to delve into archival materials – videos, articles, photos, early computer programs and hardware, radio interviews, etc. – to help flesh out the details of the exciting MYST story. These efforts will be funded by your pledges!
Currently in the “pre-production” phase, Philip plans to continue interviewing Robyn, Rand, and the rest of the team at Cyan, as well as many other luminaries in the gaming and computing world. He wants to use every available item -- props, early videos, computer hardware, original sketches -- from every Cyan project to describe their journey.
Working with cinematographer Kyle Kelly, Philip also wants to develop a cinematic style that is different from the traditional “talking heads” doc. The finished product will be more in the spirit of the MYST game itself, shown in very-high-resolution to thrill not only those familiar with the game but newcomers as well. The goal is to recreate what it feels like to wander the different island worlds in an epic journey, using a visual language to convey complicated, abstract concepts.
Philip will also expand his focus to include computer history museums, where he will locate old hardware and marketing materials, but most importantly the people who were there during the MYST journey -- the collectors, devoted archivists and historians who can recount each stage of the Miller Brothers’ story. Much like the original Route 66 of the American Southwest, the traces of MYST’s path are all there -- they just need to be connected in a visually exciting way.
The actual filming process for the documentary will follow two distinct timelines:
- The Origin Story: A reliving and retelling of the history of making MYST and RIVEN through interviews and archival videos, presented through stylized visualization in an abstract and atmospheric way. The film will visit locations of the Miller family’s origins, such as Philadelphia, Hawaii and Haiti, as well as Los Alamos and Albuquerque, N.M., where Rand met his mentor, who first gave him access to a computer lab.
- The Present Eras: Filming at Cyan in Spokane and other locations where new games are being created, as well as Silicon Valley, to meet those involved in the development of Apple’s Mac home computer, and other places where new technology is being tested.
After filming, the editing process will begin to weave this incredibly diverse, complex and massive amount of material into a riveting narrative. On top of that, an original score and sound design will tie the elements together into an adventurous journey bringing the brothers from that double-wide trailer on the outskirts of Spokane to the dizzying, high-tech world of Silicon Valley, another island full of wonder and mysteries.
From the launch of this Kickstarter, Philip expects the final print to be ready by the end of 2022.
Here’s where YOUR participation is especially important. We’re excited to offer many cool rewards for fans of MYST, grouped into several “tiers” and named after our favorite iconic spots in MYST. We really appreciate your help in making this happen, no matter what tier levels you can contribute to. This is a movie by a community for a community. Let’s share!
Get all the Kickstarter backer updates by email, access to the private #Kickstarter channel in The Myst Documentary Discord server, and the satisfying knowledge that you're helping bring the film to life!
INCLUDES: Backer Updates, Private Discord Channel
You'll receive a digital copy of The Myst Documentary. Delivery method is to be determined. You will also receive all previous rewards.
INCLUDES: Backer Updates, Private Discord Channel, Digital Copy of Film
Your name will appear in The Myst Documentary film credits along with other Kickstarter backers. You'll also be invited to attend a livestream sneak peek of the film hosted by Philip Shane. Location and timing of livestream to be announced. You'll also receive all previous rewards.
INCLUDES: Backer Updates, Private Discord Channel, Digital Copy of Film, Your Name in Film Credits, Sneak Peek Livestream
You will be invited to share Your Myst Story with the documentary team (via video recording) for inclusion on The Myst Documentary website as part of a special living archive. Your Myst story may even make it into the film itself! You'll receive the documentary 18 x 24-inch poster on matte-finish paper. You'll also receive all previous rewards.
INCLUDES: Backer Updates, Private Discord Channel, Digital Copy of Film, Name in Film Credits, Sneak Peek Livestream, Your Myst Story, Documentary Poster
You'll receive a physical copy of The Myst Documentary on DVD with "Extras" (e.g. Director commentary, outtakes, digital photos). You'll receive the documentary soft, poly-cotton T-shirt. You'll also receive all previous rewards.
INCLUDES: Backer Updates, Private Discord Channel, Digital Copy of Film, Name in Film Credits, Sneak Peek Livestream, Your Myst Story, Documentary Poster, DVD or Blu-ray with Extras, Documentary T-shirt
You'll receive a limited-edition full-color hardcover coffee table book commemorating The Myst Documentary. You'll also be invited to a private reception at Mysterium, 2021 in Washington D.C. with Philip, which will include panelists as well as Mysterium committee members (travel expenses not included). You'll also receive all other rewards.
INCLUDES: Backer Updates, Private Discord Channel, Digital Copy of Film, Name in Film Credits, Sneak Peek Livestream, Your Myst Story, Documentary Poster, DVD or Blu-ray with Extras, Documentary T-shirt, Commemorative Book, Mysterium Reception
You will receive your own exclusive, high-quality jacket with "The Myst Documentary" and "CREW" embroidery. Your poster and commemorative book will each come autographed by Rand Miller, Robyn Miller and Philip Shane. You'll also receive all previous rewards.
INCLUDES: Backer Updates, Private Discord Channel, Digital Copy of Film, Name in Film Credits, Sneak Peek Livestream, Your Myst Story, DVD or Blu-ray with Extras, Documentary T-shirt, Mysterium Reception, Documentary Jacket, Autographed Poster, Autographed Book
This is your opportunity to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience! You'll attend a 2-day on-location shoot for the documentary with Philip and his team. You'll also be named in the film's special credits. You'll receive an invitation to a private group dinner with Philip (and special guests), after which you'll attend The Myst Documentary film premiere in either New York or Los Angeles (travel expenses not included). You'll also receive all previous rewards.
INCLUDES: Backer Updates, Private Discord Channel, Digital Copy of Film, Name in Film Credits, Sneak Peek Livestream, Your Myst Story, DVD or Blu-ray with Extras, Documentary T-shirt, Mysterium Reception, Documentary Jacket, Autographed Poster, Autographed Book, 2-Day Location Shoot, Special Credits, Private Group Dinner, Film Premiere
Philip, a graduate of NYU Film School, has been a player and fan of MYST since the game first hit the market in 1993, and it has had a lasting effect on him ever since. MYST, he said, is to video games what Star Wars was for movies. “I had never seen anything like it,” he said. “It just completely swept me away into a whole new universe.” He wanted to explore those MYST worlds, or “Ages,” but also wanted to find out how they were made.
Philip has had the great fortune to work on many documentaries over the past 30 years, and had always been “fascinated by creators.” Twenty years later, he got a chance to talk to Rand and Robyn Miller, the creators of MYST, in 2016. “These are sweet, genuine, down-to-earth guys,” he said.
When he asked them whether anyone made a documentary about their story, they said no, and were “almost confused by the whole idea.” Immediately, they told Philip yes, they’d be happy to take part, adding, “I don’t know if you’re interested in this, but we’ve just finished a game, we’re about to release it and we are beginning our next project that’s totally top secret. Are you interested in following that?” Awestruck by their generous query, Philip responded, “Are you kidding??”
In making documentaries, Philip’s goals are always to help people appreciate a group of people who did something extraordinary that most people don’t know much about. The Millers’ lives were completely transformed by this work of art called MYST that they poured their heart into. Most people don’t even know who they are, and now Philip wants to bring you in to meet them. But there were other people -- those who made the MacIntosh and the HyperCards that were all essential to the creation of MYST. He wants to introduce you to these people to see how they all fit together to build the MYST universe.
As a result, Philip wants to tell the story of these two brothers, living at the time in a double-wide trailer in the woods of Spokane, who, with the help of their friends and colleagues, made the most popular video game in the world.
“These were two guys as far from the world of technology as you could get, with very limited means and experience,” Philip said. “And one day ended up on the stage with Steve Jobs.”
Please join us to help make sure Philip has the resources to complete this ambitious project.