Video-game short film Escape to get full-length feature

A short film about a little girl who uses The Legend of Zelda to escape the harsh realities of her day-to-day life is being developed into a full length feature.

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
4 min read

A short film about a little girl who uses The Legend of Zelda to escape the harsh realities of her day-to-day life is being developed into a full length feature. Writer and director Kennedy Baruch gives us the down-low.

(Escape screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

So many of us have been there: needing an out from our lives, from the drudgery and pain — and finding it in the fantastical. Kennedy Baruch's Escape is a film that resonates deeply, with the tale of a girl who's bullied at school and, at best, ignored and misunderstood at home. Made in 2012 as a student project, it was a story, Baruch says, that has personal significance to himself — and he's in the process of expanding it into a 90-minute full-length feature.

Called Princess in Another Castle, it will expand on Danni's story, giving it a depth and complexity beyond what the short film format allows.

"There are a number of reasons why I decided to adapt Escape into a feature, but the primary reason is because of the huge positive response to it, and the fact that I received a lot of comments (on YouTube) requesting a full length version!" Baruch told CNET Australia. "I try to think of myself as a storyteller, above all else, and I really do put a lot of effort into sharing the best and most effective stories I possibly can. It just seemed like a no-brainer that I should do a feature film, really."

One of the great things about the short film format is that it forces the storytelling to be economical, distilled down into its purest form in order to make as large an impact as possible within tight restrictions. There's very little room for pointless scenes, and Escape took full advantage of this to deliver a pretty hefty emotional punch. Baruch is confident he can bring this to the full-length version.

"One of the great things about adapting it into a feature is that I can still aim for an end goal of an audience reaction similar to that for Escape, but now with a running time that really requires a much more elaborate build-up layered throughout many main characters who all have actual dialogue, as opposed to just one main character who had no dialogue whatsoever, with improv dialogue in the background," he said. "There's an emotional complexity to it now, as Danni actually has a couple positive influences in her life this time — the new school counsellor, and her new best friend, Milana, who might be my most favourite original character I'll ever write. I really think people will have the same types of reactions, but built up over a much longer stretch of time, and with some performances that are amazing; McKoy Musser, who plays Danni, has given an astonishing performance."

Princess in Another Castle, he explained, will have a much more goal-oriented narrative, compared to Escape's "day in the life" feel. In the latter film, Danni was listless — her life in the real world had very little to offer, and therefore she had little motivation to perform up to her school and parental expectations. In Princess in Another Castle, she will be trying to save money to buy a Game Boy Pocket in order to play the sequel to Mother — her favourite video-game of all time, and one Baruch (who is aware that Mother 2 is a SNES title, a detail he changed for storytelling purposes) also feels strongly about.

"Escape absolutely relates to my personal experience as a gamer, but as an adult, I've come to also appreciate games for their technical execution, and overall artistry, as opposed to just escaping into them," he said. "I do, however, still find myself often blissfully escaping mostly into Nintendo games, particularly Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda, and I think both Escape and Princess in Another Castle are love letters to that aspect of my life, though the most important message of Escape was that people really need to open their eyes to how miserable childhood can be. Kids can be truly defenceless, and are totally dependent on adults. That will absolutely be communicated in Princess in Another Castle, though I have to admit I'm excited to just point people in the direction of the Mother series — they're fantastic games.

Production on Princess in Another Castle is about two thirds complete, and will hopefully be wrapping up by Q2 this year. If all goes according to plan, the film will be hitting the festival circuit by Q3, with the heavy possibility of a digital release online. Stay tuned to Baruch's Facebook page for future updates.