Aardvark Swift Spotlight: Blazing Griffin

Poised and primed in anticipation of the future of cross-media entertainment, Blazing Griffin are a multimedia company with a handle on videogame, film, and post-production development. Trailblazers in their field with storytelling at their core, Blazing Griffin are growing their already diverse team for the next era of the studio’s saga.

Aardvark Swift sat down with the Scotland based studio Blazing Griffin to find out more about their projects and accolades, forward-thinking studio culture, and what it means to be at the cutting-edge of cross-platform media, from their co-heads of games Neil McPhillips and Justin Alae-Carew. Founded in 2015 through a merger of three start ups, Blazing Griffin is three companies in one – a film production company, a post-production company, and a games studio. The latter of the three, whose name the group company adopted in 2015, saw its beginnings in 2011 as a small studio carrying the torch of the murder mystery multiplayer game, The Ship. The studio relaunched The Ship on Steam, breathing new life into it from a publishing angle. “Following this success a few years later”, Justin Alae-Carew elaborates, “talks were held with a film production company and a post-production company, all happening at similar stages. Together, they decided that the whole would be greater than the sum of the parts, and merged into one company with three distinct strands.”

Since then, the videogame studio has set their sights on infusing captivating storytelling elements with a whole host of prestigious titles, including Distant Star: Revenant Fleet, which won a BAFTA for its RTS and rogue-lite narrative, and Hercule Poirot: The First Cases – with which Blazing Griffin have become one of the select few to gain the Agatha Christie’s Estate seal of approval for an entirely new story, not written by Agatha Christie herself. “Storytelling has always been in the DNA of Blazing Griffin, across a range of different genres” notes Justin. “Distant Star has a deep narrative at its core despite it being a rogue lite, Murder Mystery Machine is an episodic detective game that is written like a procedural cop drama, and The Ship is a game utilising social deduction. From the very beginning we’ve had a deep desire to give people interesting narrative experiences”.

Diverse and substantial narratives require storytellers from varied backgrounds and experiences, and this is something that the studio not only recognises in their culture, but holds as intrinsic to the nature of the company. “Blazing Griffin and all of our upper management have always had a world embracing vision; we’re a young company for the modern age, and are not satisfied in any sense to just mimic the media forms of the past.’ Says Justin. “That is both in diversity and also in human artistic quality and technical capability; we are creating products and content for a very diverse world and require a very diverse workforce”.

Neil McPhillips adds; “Our idea of diversity permeates the whole company, through all levels of seniority, and I think when you see representation in leadership, it gives others confidence that they’re going to go to a place where you’re going to be accepted”. With this mantra at their core, Blazing Griffin have made use of the array of skillsets and departments the company has at their disposal, from games, to film, to post-production, as early adopters of the cross-platform era of entertainment. “I think the fact that functionally, we are three separate companies gives us a bit a leg up because we already have these varied skillsets in-house. It’s just more about collaborating in the right way to look at the intersecting media forms and where we can take them”, says Justin.

Intersecting media forms is high on the agenda of future pursuits, amongst other things, as Justin elaborates. “We have a couple of things that that are at the early stages at that intersection. As a company, we hope that our films turn into games and our games turn into films. We’re also interested in and looking at some of these new opportunities in different platforms and that includes PC, mobile, and VR”.

You can listen to Aardvark Swift’s full conversation with Blazing Griffin’s Neil McPhillips and Justin Alae-Carew through the Aardvark Swift Podcast, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, third-party apps, and the aswift.com website.

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