Block by block: Local teen creates a full-length Minecraft animation film

Local teen creates a full-length Minecraft animation film

“There are probably millions of Minecraft animations out there, but even adult teams have never taken it as far as to make a Minecraft-animated feature film.” Louisa teenager Jack Buckley made his first full-length feature film, Remnants, using Minecraft. The animated film premieres on June 22 at the Vinegar Hill Theater in Charlottesville. Courtesy of the artist “There are probably millions of Minecraft animations out there, but even adult teams have never taken it as far as to make a Minecraft-animated feature film.” Louisa teenager Jack Buckley made his first full-length feature film, Remnants, using Minecraft. The animated film premieres on June 22 at the Vinegar Hill Theater in Charlottesville. Courtesy of the artist

When it comes to creating a feature-length movie on the silver screen, animation studios like Pixar deploy millions of dollars and hundreds of people to make the magic happen.

Well buckle up, Hollywood, because one local teen did it right from his basement studio in Louisa. Fourteen-year-old homeschooler Jack Buckley created what he believes to be the world’s first full-length feature film using Minecraft animation.

Minecraft is the best-selling video game in the world. In it, players use digital blocks to create structures, resources, and just about anything they can imagine.

“There are probably millions of Minecraft animations out there, but even adult teams have never taken it as far as to make a Minecraft-animated feature film,” Buckley says.

The film is Remnants, an action-comedy movie that’s also a fantasy and a buddy film. It follows protagonist Chris and his mentor Milo as they attempt to stop the warlord who killed Chris’ father.

“There’s a lot of heart in the movie. It’s heartwarming…heartbreaking at some points,” Buckley says. “This film doesn’t have a message per se, but I [hope it will] affect people.”

The young filmmaker, who wrote, produced, directed, animated, and voice-acted in the project, says he’s a storyteller at heart.

“I started writing books when I was 7 years old. When I was about 10, I began to make games, but I realized the only part of making games that I really liked was the creative aspect behind it. Even with making this film, I didn’t necessarily love doing the animation. For me, it’s more about filmmaking.”

 

To create the visuals for Remnants, Buckley imported models and worlds from Minecraft into a 3-D animation program called Blender, then animated the characters and landscapes to suit the plot.

He worked with more than 40 other teenagers, including voice actors, animators, and a composer. His sister, Mia, wrote and sang the final track, but most of his collaborators live elsewhere. Buckley won’t meet his co-star, a Kentucky native named Nicholas McCamish, until the film debuts at Vinegar Hill Theater on Saturday.

Buckley found many of his collaborators through YouthDigital, a now-defunct company that gave student coders a place to share their work. The movie itself began as a 16-minute short, uploaded to the platform.

“It got an extremely positive response,” Buckley says. “Everyone was like, ‘We need more Remnants.’ So I decided to create more, and eventually it just turned into a feature film.”

It took three years and 3,200 hours for the young filmmaker to achieve the final product.

“I’m definitely more resilient,” he says. “What I found helpful, especially in these last few months when I’ve been working eight- to thirteen-hour days, is to not think about where you are now but where you will be when the project’s done.”

Remnants will premier alongside a documentary Buckley made about the making of the movie. A Q&A with several cast members will follow.

Eventually, Buckley says, he plans be an executive producer. Soon, he’ll begin making more live action films. But now, he just wants to inspire others.

“Throughout this entire process, I’ve learned that just because you’re a kid doesn’t mean you can’t do things, like creating a movie at 14, with the help of a bunch of other people,” he says. “I want to give the message to kids that they don’t have to wait until they’re an adult to try to do great things.”

More info at remnantsmovie.com.