The Making of “The Legend” – Part 1
So I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time. And by “a long time,” I mean about as long as it’s taken to finish the “Legend” project. I feel like something that’s taken so much time and was such a huge part of my family’s life ought to have a chronicle of how it came about. I’m not the greatest at the whole talking thing; I put it off in favor of working on the more artsy aspects of this enormous undertaking.
My husband Fyl and I are nerds, and we’re raising two little nerds. One daughter loves video games in general, and the younger daughter, while liking gaming as well, became absolutely fixated on the Legend of Zelda after my husband bought a copy of Ocarina of Time for me. My little one pretty much stole it away immediately and became obsessed. She renamed all of her favorite toys “Zelda,” and asked that I sew her a Zelda costume for Halloween. She requested a wooden master sword from her grandfather, who is a carpenter. Most Zelda merchandise was aimed at nostalgic adults at the time, so we obliged her. I made her a costume, Grandpa made her a sword, and she was outside in her princess dress swinging her sword at imaginary monsters every day when she got home from kindergarten. We made a short video in the park just after Halloween, “The Legend of Zelda (not that Link guy).” My husband worked the cameras, and a friend of ours played the part of a bridge troll. Just about nobody saw it, but the kids had fun.
It was about that time that I discovered Aaron Diaz’s Clockwork Empire designs, as well as a mod of the original Zelda game that replaced Link with Zelda. We downloaded that Zelda patch so fast, man, it was revolutionary. My kids loved it, I loved it… In fact, it seemed that these things seemed to really resonate in the gaming community. Turns out that there was tons of people who loved Zelda games and longed for her to have a turn as the main character. (And no, “Wand of Gamelon” does not count.)
My little one was so impressed by the Clockwork Empire images that she kept asking me when the game was coming out- she had just turned five and still believed Everything on the Internet was True and Real. By that time she had learned to finish Ocarina of Time by herself, except for the boss fights which were scary and required Mommy or Daddy’s help to finish. She played the Zelda-starring-Zelda patched rom, and was naturally disappointed when there wasn’t a similar way to alter other Zelda games. Her big sister took note of the lack of kid-friendly female protagonists, and how asking google for “games for girls” only led to flash games involving dress-up and makeup. It’s frustrating when you’re a little kid and pink princess crap is literally forced upon you. It was hard to find decent games that they would like. We just picked up more Zelda games and commiserated with them that yes, it was unfair that you can’t play as Zelda in a game named after her. Neither me nor Fyl knew anything about programming- he’s a cinematographer, and I’m an artist and crafter. The only solution we could come up with was to make another short film. A proper one, this time.
So in the spring of 2013, I worked out character designs and gathered materials. Little Zelda was designed to have a very similar outfit to Link’s, just with a raised waistline to give it a look that was less “tunic” and more “play-dress.” Most versions of Zelda had a pinkish-purple color scheme, but our Little Zelda liked purple better, so that’s how the costume color was decided. Meanwhile my husband worked on the script, taking references from several Zelda games to make it feel as much as possible like it could be an authentic installment of the series, like it could really fit in the official timeline somewhere. It took most of the summer to finish Zelda’s costume and shield. We built a rudimentary octorok puppet/pull-toy/I can’t even, too, during that time. Zelda needed monsters to fight during her adventures, after all, but it was admittedly really rough-looking compared to our other props and costumes. Fyl decided we’d just replace it with something better in post-production, as we wanted to start filming before the weather got too cold.
This is already super-long, so I’ll write more about the actual filming process in part 2.