What brought Mexican film director Guillermo del Toro and Japanese video game director Hideo Kojima together, as friends and collaborators -- on the P.T. demo and the aborted Silent Hills project it was meant to deliver a taste of?
"We have the same passion for melancholic ideas executed in big action genres," del Toro said, as part of a discussion the two took part in at today's DICE Summit in Las Vegas. "He brings lyricism, and literate ideas."
"In Guillermo's movies you always find something grotesque and violent but also something beautiful," Kojima said, with eyes drawn on his hands to mimic a creature from Pan's Labyrinth, del Toro's 2006 film.
Despite any hopes that the two might have been on stage to announce a renewal of their creative partnership, the two do not appear to currently be collaborating. Of Kojima, del Toro did say, "I'll do whatever the fuck he wants," but there was no big announcement.
Kojima's first production as an independent developer is with Sony. He spoke briefly about it today: "I feel extremely free right now," Kojima said. "I'm trying to make a big game, very edgy game with an extremely small team."
The constraints of mass-market art
"For my first project, I'm working with Sony, so I have to do something where I'm doing something exactly what I want to do, while at the same time it satisfies the fans out there, while at the same time sells -- so yeah, I have to be careful with this," Kojima said.
Del Toro, who works within the Hollywood studio system, noted that games are both "entertainment products and art" -- but at the same time, "I just follow my impulses, and that's the freedom you need to have," he said. "All the other freedoms are conditional... but the one to be ambitious, you need that one."
"I have no intentions of ever changing anything I do in order for it to be a hit or sell more, it's something I am not going to do and I don't want to do," Kojima remarked, referring to his first independent project. "I have to create something I want to play, and at the same time figure out ways it will be appealing to the market."
"... the storytellers look ahead what they can discover, and the money people look back, thinking where are we going, it's the safe route," del Toro said. "Studios in the gaming and the film industry are like dinosaurs coming to the edge of a cliff ... Creators help maneuver and change the direction."
"You have to be incessantly curious"
Both creators spoke avidly about the need to consume works of art -- and have personal time, with friends and family -- to be able to produce creativity.
"Audiovisual artists, we are very aware, we are like magpies, we see the world, we collect shiny things, we arrange them in the nest, and we are feeding off each other," del Toro said.
"You need time to watch movies, read books, time to do what you wanna do, time to be with your family, time to have all of those inputs," Kojima said. "If you don't have any input, anything to put outside, then there's nothing creative."
"You have to be incessantly curious," said del Toro, "but also, we could dedicate all of our day and all of our time to consuming culture, and we would have a big blind side... you have to be conscious of what you're watching, and your blind side."
"When I am watching I try to be a really conscientious audience," he continued. "When I am watching a movie I am evaluating many things at the same time, but the main link is emotion."
The advice seemed to boil down to this: Try and engage as much as you can with a wide range of culture that speaks to you, and understand its value as best as you are capable. That will strengthen your art.
If you want to know what Kojima's been watching, lately, you can see him discussing his favorite movies of 2015 in a recent YouTube video on his newly launched official channel.