This interview was conducted by moderator Penny (fazestudio).
Penny: How was your experience this year with the Plumbbob Awards?
Star Shuz: It was my first time ever hearing about awards and film festivals for sims directors and so initially I thought it was such a great way to celebrate the talent that we have in the community. It was also my first time ever entering something like this. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the awards. I thought it was a great place to meet directors and watch some new machinima. I also loved the fact that there was a Discord group, where you could go to ask any questions you might have and also chat with other directors. The feedback we received was so incredibly helpful and so detailed. I’ve started to take the constructive feedback on board and started making some improvements. So thank you.
Penny: Your series, even though it was just the first episode, was cleverly done. It was one of my favorites this year. What gave you the idea of showcasing sound effects like you did?
Star Shuz: It was my first attempt at writing a series let alone filming one. I’ve always wanted to write a story but am not great at writing and had no idea how to even film a machinima. So, I started practicing with kpop music videos. I’ve also never dabbled in sound design, but this was a subbed series and I needed something to fill in the gaps of not being voiced. I didn’t want people to feel like the episode lacked sound or emotion just because it was subbed.
Penny: What gave you the idea of The Eclipse?
Star Shuz: I’ve had an initial story line for a while. I’ve always been fascinated by stories about darkness and light – the fight against evil, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc. So, there were some story influences there. But my initial story changed quite a bit when I saw this Japanese drama, which I can’t even share the title of as it’s a major spoiler. After I finished watching that, that series was my major influence along with all the fantasy stories I loved.
Penny: When you first started filming you began with K-Pop videos. How is filming a music video different from filming a series?
Star Shuz: So, so different. Recreating cinematic k-pop videos in Sims 4 is so difficult. I don’t animate or make cc and so trying to find the right animations to go along with the music video was very challenging. I did however learn so many new skills that I could transfer to my series. With filming a series, you have the freedom to make it your own, change scenes or shots if they don’t work. But with recreating cinematic k-pop videos you have to find a way to make it work somehow.
Penny: What inspired you to be a sims machinima director?
Star Shuz: My friend Silken Sims. I had no clue that sims machinima was even a thing, I honestly thought the game was just good for lets plays. I would say the first ever Sims machinima I watched was hers, Adventures in Neverland. I had no idea that this was even a style of storytelling, and then I found April Dark, Serendipitia, and so many others. They all inspired me – some have also gone to great lengths to get me started and also help me whenever I struggle.
Penny: What/who are some of your favorite series/directors in the machinima community? And did you have any favorites from this year’s awards?
Star Shuz: Gosh, so, so many. One of my favorites has to be The Kenopsia Effect by Sims Berrry, Raison D’etre by cornymio, Invisible by Serendipitia, Blue Moon by Silken Sims, Everglow by April Dark, Intertwined by alittlemid, Athelda by Sadistic Siren. This year it has to be hands down Invisible by Serendipitia. She literally blew me away.
Penny: Okay, so we all have likes and dislikes about filming… What do you love/hate about filming?
Star Shuz: Oh gosh that’s easy, finding the right animation and also just the Sims 4 game mechanics when it comes to using animations. The sim resets completely if you decide to move an object slightly and this can get really frustrating when you have a scene with 20 sims. I also hate building sets – I don’t enjoy building at all, I can’t build anything exciting. Sometimes I cut corners and only build what you see on camera, the rest of the the room is empty! (laughs)
Penny: If you could be any character in your series, who would you be and why?
Star Shuz: Neji, I love him. He’s one of my favorite characters. He is really soft and caring but doesn’t show it in the conventional way. He’s usually just hanging quietly in the background when he’s with friends. He has a bit of a backstory as to why he’s like that. A lot of people think he’s cold.
Penny: When can we expect the next episode and are you currently working on any other projects?
Star Shuz: Ah the next episode – we will dive into Kimiko’s past, and also subtly hint at some fantasy elements coming through in dreams. I’m also still trying to find ways of developing the other characters, as Kimiko is still the main focus in episode 2. We also find out who texted her at the end of episode 1.
I’m currently working on a collaborative 3-part voice over story called Memories of a Siren. I’m working with April Dark and Izumini. It’s something really exciting and new, we will tell one story and take a part each. This will also be our first VO project.
Penny:Do you have anything to say to the judges and your fans?
Star Shuz: To the judges – just thank you. Thank you for taking the time to watch all those entries and score them. It was really tough and we had some amazing entries! The feedback was invaluable. Thank you to all the judges who took time to answer questions and put the show together. It was like a proper awards show – love the ad breaks and the music at the end. We need more ways to celebrate sims machinima.
My fans – I feel like cringing at this word because I can’t see myself as having fans. But supporters? Yes, thank you to every one of you. Without you guys, none of this would have happened. I feel so immensely grateful to be part of such a supportive loving community that strives to help one another. I have met so many wonderful people that have really pushed me and encouraged me. You guys give me confidence to keep creating machinima. Thank you.
Penny: Star, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. It’s truly an honor to speak with such amazing talent. I am a behind the scene person, so I don’t talk much in public but getting to meet each and every one of you on a one-to-one basis is really rewarding to me.