A Chat With FC3: Blood Dragon Tribute Creator Mike Diva
Mike Diva (real name Mike Dahlquist) is a prolific videographer who appears to eat, breathe and sleep old school games. His YouTube channel, featuring a varied assortment of tributes to video games and ’80s retro-wave culture boasts over 200,000 subscribers and to date has gathered more than 24 million views. Damn.
His latest success, which you can see at the top of this page, is a tribute to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. It manages to nail the comedic tone of that game, and it also feels like something out of The Running Man. It’s pretty awesome, in other words, and the public agrees: it’s already blown up with 196,371 views in just over a month since it was posted. That’s typical of his output, which can suck up an entire afternoon if you let yourself just start watching. I spoke to him via email to find out more: we discussed how he manages to get funding, how he broke into the game, and more shockingly, the fact that he wasn’t allowed to own a console when he was a kid.
Breaking In To Online Film
Dahlquist got his start online when his friend Jacob Patterson (@pattersonart) introduced him to YouTube and convinced him to start doing videos on a regular basis. This might make some of us a little jealous, but even that rough attempt was a success: “Sexy sax man” became an Internet sensation, and the video’s popularity helped Dahlquist pay his rent for months. That convinced him to take his efforts more seriously, and he now works on his videos full time.
Interestingly, despite his focus on gaming, Dahlquist grew up fairly deprived of the medium. “I’ve always loved video games,” he told me, “but my parents never let me have a console growing up, so if I wanted to play video games, I had to go to friends house.” Dahlquist admits that he was pissed off at the time, but in retrospect, he knows his parents wanted him to focus on school and creating stuff instead of consuming it premade, so he spent his free time as a kid making what he calls “stupid little videos”.
His major influences were instead the weird and violent pop culture artifacts ranging from hilariously cheesy to incredibly violent. “I grew up with ‘Power Rangers,’ Robocop, Lisa Frank, and Blade Runner, so every video I make seems to have elements of at least one of those things,” Dahlquist said. “Being a ’90s kid has also influenced me a lot, I think there was something magical about those times that I try to capture in a lot of my work.”
“Perhaps,” he jokes, “I’m making up for my lost childhood by working on all these video game-related projects.” Fortunately, he thinks that lost childhood might have made him more creative, “but on the flip-side my friends usually kick my ass in most games because they’ve had way more experience.” His current favorite is Soul Calibur V on Xbox 360. “The depth of gameplay and customizability is awesome and hilarious. We’re always trying to see who can make the dumbest looking characters and the fighting styles are really diverse and exciting.”
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon: The Movie.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, it seemed, was a natural fit for his interests.
“When I saw the first few pictures from it, it was obvious to me that Dean Evans, the creative director of the game, and I have a lot of the same influences. When I got the chance to talk to him he told me he had actually sent my Kill The Noise music video to the game’s designers for inspiration, so it’s a huge honor for me to have a little hand in influencing something so awesome. Blood Dragon’s got literally everything I’d wanna see in a videogame, it’s brilliant.”
For now, Dahlquist says that he’s just finished up a new video for Mortal Kombat which is due for release early next month, and plans to check out Hotline: Miami as a potential game parody. “Hotline: Miami does seem like a pretty dope game and It’d be really fun to try and do a top-down perspective action video, so we’ll see!”
He’d like very much to direct feature films, and that he’s always on the lookout for great scripts to work on. Likewise, he’s worked on television in the past, but it’s not something he’d endeavor to pursue in the future. ”I tried an episodic series with Bammo, online, and it was extremely challenging,” he says. “Definitely have mad respect for television creators but I don’t think its something I wanna do again.” Either way, it’ll be some time. While his music video for “Kill the Noise” won “Pick of the Year” on MTV Clubland, that hasn’t transformed him into a superstar.
“It was definitely one of the highlights of my life,” he says, “but alas I am still a broke and struggling artist.”