• An interview with the brains behind Final Fantasy VII: The Series

    Final Fantasy VII: The Series is one of the most ambitious fan projects to date. Taking the beloved Final Fantasy VII and converting it into a movie-quality web series adaptation drawing upon talent and resources from all four corners of the globe. Such a project is bound to come with it's highs and lows and many a pitfall along the way.

    Eyes on Final Fantasy recently had the chance to sit down and have a chat with the creators behind this project to find out just exactly what they hope to accomplish as well as their inspirations.

    Our guests are:
    1. Gionata Medeot, Director (GM)
    2. Daniel A. Purcell, Music Director/Marketing & PR Manager (DP)
    3. Maurice J. Gallagher, Writer/Screenplay (MG)

    Q. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
    (GM) I'm Gionata Medeot from Italy. I’m a Director and Film Editor. I studied Film Editing in Italy for 2 years. I’ve worked for big TV production companies such as Sky TV

    (MG) My name is Maurice J. Gallagher of Glasgow, Scotland I am the screenplay writer of the Final Fantasy VII: Web Series. I have written two fanfiction novels (Final Fantasy VII: A New Threat and Final Fantasy VII: The Man in the Black Cloak) which are novelisations of the original games.

    (DP) My name is Daniel. A. Purcell. I come from Dublin, Ireland, but I now reside in Pittsburgh PA, USA. I am the Music Director for Final Fantasy VII: The Web Series, as well as the Marketing & P.R Manager.

    Q. How long have you been playing video games for?
    (MG) I have been playing video games since I was around 7 years old. My first game was Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the SEGA Mega Drive. I loved everything about video games, especially when I was fully introduced to 3D gaming by the PlayStation. Games such as Resident Evil, Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario Brothers and Pro Evolution Soccer have always been favourites of mine, but without a shadow of a doubt, Final Fantasy blows them out of the water. Sadly, I have lost touch with the gaming world nowadays, but still hold retro gaming close to my heart.

    (GM) My first games were Final Fantasy VII, Grand Turismo,, and Pro Evolution Soccer. I was 10.

    (DP) My parents were actually gamers back in the day, so my first game was Duck Hunt for the NES…you had this toy gun that weighed more than a real rifle shooting awful looking “ducks”. Although, the first game that fully immersed me into its universe, was Final Fantasy VII, followed my Metal Gear Solid.

    Q. Which was your favourite Final Fantasy and why?
    (MG) Final Fantasy VII. It is my Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. The beauty of the compelling story, fascinating characters and absorbing world made it one of the most remarkable and inspirational things I have ever experienced, never mind game. I do have a soft spot for Final Fantasy VIII, though.

    (DP) Final Fantasy VII is like my personal nostalgic memory bank, I hold it very close to my heart and it’s connected to a lot of beautiful memories from when I was a kid. Like Mo, I like Final Fantasy VIII, too. But I’ve always adored Final Fantasy IX.. It’s right next to FFVII, for me.

    (GM) Final Fantasy VII. It was the first game that I "played" (My big brother played it for me, because the game was in English and I didn't understand it; So, I was right beside my brother as he played it and explained it to me. The gameplay was great, but the story was just remarkably compelling.

    Q. So far you've made a great looking trailer - could you tell us a bit more about what your goals were with the trailer such as why you decided to focus on Aerith and the ideas behind it?
    (GM) With the teaser trailer, we simply wanted people to know that we were out there, and that we had the power to not just create, but give the series justice with our vision, and on a very limited budget, as it’s non-profit and self-financed. We focussed on Aerith/Aeris and the church scene for a number of reasons; one being that it’s a very important part of the game. We meet this innocent young lady in a church, a place that’s supposed to represent safety, growing flowers, which symbolises life and growth, in such a murky, dystopian world. We wanted to capture the beauty of that scene. Also, there’s no FMV sequence in the game of that particular scene, so we’ve never really seen it in as much depth as say, the intro scene (with Aeris crouching down near the leaking Mako), or the death scene.

    We felt that to do that scene would be almost a cliché. We wanted to show you something you’ve never really seen, but have just partially witnessed in the game. Also, the church was right next to my house (laughs)

    Q. Are you worried about the project being shut down by Square Enix as has happened with other fan projects in the past?
    (GM) Not really. The teaser trailer has actually been published over on the official Square-Enix website forums, so I believe they’re aware of it. Who knows, maybe they love it, and the idea. It's a fan made series without profit so we’re not don't attacking or disrespecting the integrity of Square-Enix.

    (DP) One of the biggest questions we receive is about legal implications and Square-Enix. People always remind us of the infamous Chrono Trigger fan remake that happened a few years ago – a bunch of fans reversed engineered the game, and updated the sprites and music etc. They had a whole new story written, and over 30+ hours of gameplay ready to be distributed to fans everywhere. The only problem was, they were freely distributing the original ROM, which was copyright infringement, and the project was shut down at Square-Enix’s request. Now, what we’re doing is very different. We are simply taking one medium, and transforming it to another medium. We’re doing exactly what millions of people do every day on YouTube when they cover a song – simply doing a different version of it.

    We respect Square-Enix deeply. We have no intentions of stepping on toes, disrespecting their intellectual property and copyrighted material, or even making a cent off it. We want to bring the entire Final Fantasy community together, to transform this amazing tale so that millions of people, who never experienced it back in 1997 on PlayStation, can fall in love with the story and characters.

    (MG) In addition to Gio’s answer, Square-Enix has also set a precedent in regards to their cooperation with non-profit, fan-made projects with their recent blessing for OCRemix to continue fundraising on Kickstarter for the Final Fantasy VI album, “Balance & Ruin”

    Q. How are you planning on co-ordinating a group of talented artists from possibly all corners of the globe?
    (MG) For the purpose of making the process as streamlined as possible, we are looking to run the project much in the same way as a business operates. In other words, each team will report to a department leader who will in turn report to the director.

    (GM) It’s not easy. We have people from Italy, Scotland, Ireland, USA, Canada, India and even Mexico on board. We co-ordinate as best as possible using Skype and E-mail etc.

    (DP) I’ve actually been personally recruiting people from all corners of the globe to come join our different creative departments, and Gio is right, it’s not easy. We’ve been very clever implementing social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, but also by other clever means such as Dropbox and Skype. We need to think outside the box with this, even with the mall fact that there are different time zones etc. But with most people having smartphones, when a script is finished for example, we can put it into Dropbox and we can all access the file no matter whrere we are, instantly. We can then hop onto our private Facebook group, leave feedback, and then an hour or so later it’s changed. We’re thinking of clever ways to take shortcuts, from shortcuts.

    Q. What challenges do you foresee here, particularly when it comes to casting actors and the shooting of the footage itself and how do you plan on dealing with those challenges?
    (MG) While Final Fantasy VII almost promotes itself, we expect we will need to invest a lot of time and effort to achieve the publicity we hope for which will lead to funding. From the writing side of things, one of the main challenges is to satisfy the majority of fans. The purpose of having two very talented but very different writers is so that a compromise on various subjects can be made which, in turn, should produce the most effective outcome.

    (GM) I don’t foresee anything out of the ordinary. We’ll run into what any other production runs into, and we’ll overcome it.

    Q. Final Fantasy VII is very well loved by the community at large - are you worried that the project might be received negatively and how faithfully are you going to stick to the original story of the game?
    (MG) With so many talented and experienced people on board, we would have to go spectacularly wrong for the project to be received negatively. One of the many ways to avoid this in terms of the screenplay is to ask for fans’ input so as to gauge how well received an idea or a story arc may be. While we aim to remain as faithful as possible to the original game, there are many things to consider when recreating the story in a different medium. The game mechanics and random battles will pretty much be relegated to the background, but references will still be there. Expect to see Materia. Expect to see fighting. Expect to see action. Expect to see monsters. And expect the characters and relationships to be brought to life as much, if not more, as they are in the game. As one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the community with regards to Before Crisis and the story of Deepground, I will also be adding fun references and Easter Eggs into the Web Series that relate to the other titles of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.

    Q. What should people do if they're interested in getting involved? How should they get in touch and what are you looking for in terms of resumés etc?
    (DP) The talent that’s out there is simply incredible, and what’s even more astonishing is there are many young people who just ooze creativity, and they have no proper output. We are that output. We have one of the most incredible, most talented teams out there that could envy the highest television or movie crew. We’re constantly looking for artists, VFX specialists, sounds FX specialists composers, costume makers, make-up artists, lighting specialists, digital artists, and even social media guru’s. Send us your stuff and if we think it’s good, we’ll have a job for you. I urge people to come on board. Help us create the biggest fan project ever made.

    Q. What about people who simply want to support the project and see the end result - do you have any sort of crowd-funding open such as a KickStarter page they can donate through?
    (DP) As we are non-profit and self-financed, we will be relying on the generosity of fans from all around the world to chip in on our many crowd funding projects.

    But we don’t look for something for nothing. We have a LOT of exciting things to give back in return. One example being EXCLUSIVE merchandise on our upcoming Kickstarter project, from the artists at RedBubble.com

    You won’t find these products ANYWHERE else, ever. So stay tuned on for info. Follow, Like, Share.

    Q. Last but not least: Chocobos or Moogles - which are better?
    (MG) I must admit that while Moogles hardly appear in FFVII, I do prefer them for their varied and often-cheeky nature. They were brilliant in FFIX.

    (GM) Chocobo! I think that I can create a whole movie only chocobo’s.. I want a chocobo as dog!

    (DP) Moogles. I hear they make great soup. Take that any way you want

    I wonder who the owner of that sword could be?

    One thing that's clear from the interview is that there is definately a lot of passion fueling this project and it certainly sounds promising. Daniel even took the time to join our forums and post a thread detailing the project and how to get involved!

    If you haven't caught a glimpse of the teaser that was released last year, or if you simple want to catch it again, then here it is - just for you!

    Be sure to keep follow this project through Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. It's definately one to watch out for!
    This article was originally published in forum thread: An Interview with the brains behind Final Fantasy VII: The Series started by Aulayna View original post
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. DrAssenov's Avatar
      DrAssenov -
      Thank you so much for posting this! I really enjoyed reading this. It's so nice to know there are amazingly talented people out there who absolutely adore FFVII! I can't wait to watch the rest of the series!
    1. LadyJuxtaposition's Avatar
      LadyJuxtaposition -
      I never knew that there's going to be a movie about it! I'm so totally going to watch it when it is done! It's a great idea of making it so that many people can enjoy FFVII as the gamers do back in the day.
      I must keep myself updated, and maybe check out if I can help somehow in anyway.
    1. Goldenboko's Avatar
      Goldenboko -
      Definitely an interesting interview, I'm surprised by how far away they all live from each other. I wonder how long they plan on the movie being!
    1. Freya's Avatar
      Freya -
      Wow these guys are a lot more legit than I thought!
    1. tony12's Avatar
      tony12 -
      Interesting and they do seem serious about it at the moment. Unfortunately very seldom do fan projects like this ever go anywhere. The thrill of creating it can only last so long and after awhile the headaches that it brings take over. And the headaches are tough to deal with when you aren't receiving any income from it and it just stops being fun.

      And I will have to say that it is pretty obvious they are trying to cover up the actors faces and how they don't look anything like how the characters look in the games that have been made so far.
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