"I'm a big Minecraft player myself," he tells Kotaku. "I ran a dedicated 24/7 server for some months before I had to shut it down because it had taken over my life." His closest friends were the players on his server and not the ones he used to hang out with off the grid. Waltz says Mojang, the studio responsible for indie hit Minecraft, was not involved. The spot, he adds, was just something he wanted to do.
The filmmaker knew he'd been playing too much Minecraft when, after an all-nighter and on his way to work, he saw a row of black marble cubes aligned along the side of a building. According to Waltz, "My first thought was 'what are Obsidian doing on the surface?' and then I immediately remembered that this was the real world and... that I was going insane." Waltz started thinking more about cubes and blocks and how he could create an interesting short.
After casting Toronto's Mike Kwao, they took to the streets, improvising the spot's opening sequence. "Some passers-by were freaked out and ran in their house," recalls Waltz.
In one part of the commercial, part of Kwao's face is knocked out. To achieve the "knock on head" special effect shot, Waltz and his crew needed copious takes to make sure they were covered for FX. "An old lady ran over, really upset, thinking we were a gang of thugs beating on a helpless black guy in an alley," recalls Waltz. "Which was funny thinking that Mike could easily handle all of us."
The fan-made Minecraft spot was supposed to be finished around January 1, but Waltz got entrenched with the game itself. "Because of how much time I ended up playing," he says, "I couldn't finish it until I shut down the server."