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Tribeca Exclusive: ‘Jackrabbit’ Filmmakers Release ’80s-inspired Video Game

Tribeca Exclusive: 'Jackrabbit' Filmmakers Release '80s-inspired Video Game

READ MORE: The 2015 Indiewire Tribeca Bible: Every Review, Interview and News Item Posted During Run of Festival

According to “Jackrabbit” producer-turned-amateur-game-designer Joe Stankus, the idea to create a video game tied to the film came about by accident, as the result of a joke. The production didn’t have any money in the budget to put towards a game. But, as Stankus told Indiewire over email earlier this week, “the more we talked about it the more we were interested in the idea.”

“Even though ‘Jackrabbit’ was a low-budget indie,” he continued. “I felt the world Carleton [Ranney] created was so rich that it deserved to spread out a little and, given the thematic importance that arcade games play in the movie, it just seemed like the right thing to do.”

Set in a post-apocalyptic world where everyone is under constant surveillance, “Jackrabbit” tells the story of two young hackers who come from two completely separate worlds, but end up being forced to work together in order to decipher the meaning behind the trail of bread crumbs (i.e. a hardrive) left behind by a common friend who, at the outset of the film, mysteriously commits suicide.

The video game offshoot designed by Stankus, called “To The Maxx,” is a single-player game reminiscent of ’80s-era analog arcade games. When it came to designing a video game around “Jackrabbit,” Stankus, who has never received any sort of professional design training, took to watching YouTube tutorials. “The game is fairly simple and was basically designed around the limitations of my abilities but I feel like that’s part of its charm,” said Stankus.

Director Carleton Ranney said that a video game tied to the game made sense because the film “really encourages the idea of taking technology into your own hands and making something unique with it. Our characters are struggling to make a new world for themselves out of limited means and are learning as they go. I think Joe really tried to channel the ethos of the film with the way he put the game together.”

Earlier this year, Indiewire spoke to filmmaker Joel Potrykus about a video game he is developing based on his latest film, “Buzzard.” Potrykus and his partners on the project, the video game art and development collective Babycastles, took to Kickstarter to raise funds for production and managed to reach their their goal on April 2.

To try your hand at “To The Maxx,” click here. “Jackrabbit” premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival tonight.

READ MORE: Why This Twisted New Indie Film is Getting Its Own Video Game

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