Viva Amiga (Digital Copy)
Author/Company: Zach Weddington - Date of review: 11th January 2017 (*Updated 25th January 2017)
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Kickstarted back in 2011, Viva Amiga is a documentary that has been through almost as many highs and lows as the Amiga has been through its life. Originally backed to the sum of $25,000 the film intended to cover the North American side of the Amiga scene, which made it unique since the Amiga was considerably more popular in the UK and parts of Europe. For many it also was an exciting prospect since the Amiga was developed and made in the States there was the opportunity to show things that have not been seen before outside the United States. It was with this in mind that I backed the film and looked forward to watching it and finding out about the Amiga and how it fared across the pond.

Zach promised a lot, great interviews, music and graphics and to an extent he has met those promises. The music is suitably 80s sounding but is not the same as the music used in the trailers which was disapointing, the graphics while looking at times unfinished do the job well but when you get to the meat of the film it is decidedly lacking in any new information. The problem Zach has faces is that the film took 5 years to make, in that time there have been other documentaries and books about the Amiga and they are quite in-depth regarding the Amiga`s history. In addition, the average Amiga user is quite knowledgeable about the Amiga, probably more so than your usual Apple fan (As Dave Haynie says in the film, “Amiga users make Apple users look like IBM users.") which kind of creates a problem for Zach, he targeted the movie originally at the Amiga fans, but from watching the film you get the feeling that it is not really aimed at the Amiga fan but at those who never owned an Amiga.

What the film does get right though is the general love and joy that users have about the Amiga. Each person interviewed showed real passion for the machine and no more than the original Amiga designers, RJ Mical looks like he is on the verge of tears at one point. It is here where the film does very well and it gave me a warm feeling to see the passion these guys had in making the Amiga. There were some other random users who talked about their Amiga experiences, which was interesting since it gave a view of what it was like to own an Amiga in America, where it was not as popular.

However whilst the film creates a very warm and happy feeling it is still covering too much material that has already been retread many times, in fact it reminded me a bit of the Amiga World film, “History of the Amiga”, this film had more of the original Amiga team talking about creating the Amiga and while it is only 45 minutes it covers much more that Zach`s film. If you can still find it on the Internet please watch it, as it is a fascinating look into the making of the Amiga with a lot of information.

One area where the film almost seemed to justify the 5 years of waiting was when the Video Toaster was mentioned, this was unique to North America and for many of us in Europe it was a rare chance to see some real info about the VT. However once again the scenes are too short and the Video Toaster is gone in a few seconds. This was a missed opportunity for the filmmaker to make a documentary that looks at the unique Amiga scene in America, helping differentiate it from the other films that have gone before, but again sadly this was not covered in enough detail.

As it stands the DVDs have not been made yet so there is a chance that Zach might include extras. I had the chance to help him by transcribing the unedited interviews for Jeff Porter and RJ Mical and there was a gold mine of information, which he sadly did not include in the current version of the film. If we are lucky he might do a special edition for the DVD/BluRay (fingers crossed) but it seems that he is already working on a new project about the history of Sega.

In conclusion, I really wanted to enjoy this film and it was enjoyable to an extent but seemed incomplete. There were some inexcusable mistakes such as; using very yellowed Amigas (which could have been easily cleaned up and whitened) which would have given the film a more professional look, there were scenes where you could see the camera and camera man reflected in the monitors and parts of the animation used incomplete models. He covered a bit about the chip music scene but then missed the Demoscene.

Viva Amiga is a warm look at the Amiga but at its core, it feels empty and rushed, at times verging on becoming a music video. Zach should have covered the Video Toaster more in-depth, the American software houses Cinemaware, Nova Design (makers of Image FX), Digital Creations (Brilliance and DCTV!), Amiga artists Jim Sachs and Eric Schwartz, hardware producers such as GVP and Supra, American Amiga magazines Amiga World and Amazing Computing and there is so much more! The Amiga in the States had a very vibrant hardware scene and a lot of the first software and hardware add-ons came from the States. Zach sadly dropped the ball and created a film that really does not give anything new to the Amiga scene. Being in America he could have created a wonderfully unique Amiga film just by interviewing some of the individuals and companies I mentioned above. It makes me sad and frustrated because once again an essential part of the Amiga`s history is being ignored.

Perhaps I am being too harsh on the film as he did only get $25,000 but to be honest I am a huge Amiga fan and wanted the film to be much more, there is still a lof of material that could be and should be covered. For example, Zach could have concentrated on the States and have created a film that could stand alone among the crowd of other Amiga films that are Europe centred. Viva Amiga is a nice film but it just does not stack so well against better researched/produced films such as the Bedrooms to Billions: The Amiga Years.

I hope that in the future someone will take the reigns to make a film about the Amiga in America, (I would love to try but I am not a film maker), the Amiga`s history in America is a rich mwlting pot of very interesting stories waiting to be exposed to the rest of the world. Until then I will have to revisit Amiga World and Amazing Computing magazines.

For more information about the film and where to watch it please visit the offical website: www.amigafilm.com

 
- www.amigafan.net 2018 -


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