Nick Smith aka "Ulillillia"
Nick Smith, also known as Ulillillia, is one of the most intriguing figures in Internet culture. Among other things, Nick runs a fascinating and successful website and Youtube channel, is the author of a novel, a math savant, and is occasionally a musical composer. But what Nick is most known for is his work in video game design. He is currently hard at work on what promises to be his masterwork, Platform Masters, a game which he has designed entirely himself from scratch over the course of thousands of hours of work.

Nick has over the years become somewhat of an Internet celebrity, amassing a very dedicated fan base who are intrigued not only by his work, but by his personality as well. Nick suffers from a number of unique obsessions and fears, many of which manifest in ways that are related to the greatest passion of his life, videogames. While these obsessions and fears prevent him from living an average life, they are an important part of what makes Nick such an interesting and likable character.

Nick lives his life with the seriousness of a child at play. Because of his quirks, Nick is unable to do a number of every day tasks easily or pursue many of his dreams. He continues to reside in his hometown, however, this has allowed him to develop his excellence in video game programming. Nick is truly an example of a brilliant but troubled mind, and one that will captivate and enthrall anyone who encounters him.


Ulillillia

Ulillillia

Ulillillia


Souris River Flood of 2011
In late June of 2011, Nick Smith’s hometown of Minot, ND was devastated by the worst flooding in its history. Heavy rain and snow during the previous year in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan was followed by flash flooding in May and June. Overflowing dams were released to alleviate the flooding in Canada which caused the water to come rushing down the Souris River (or the Mouse River, as it is known locally in the U.S.) towards North Dakota. The river runs directly through the center of North Dakota’s third largest city, Minot, a city that had previously been declared un-floodable.

Despite Minot’s preparations and the help of the National Guard, when the water reached the city, it breached many of the emergency dirt dikes and flooded thousands of homes and businesses, as well as two schools. Many homes along the Souris were overtaken by more than ten feet of water and the streets themselves could be navigated only by boat. In the end, Minot sustained over $1 billion in damage and more than 11,000 people, nearly one quarter of the city’s population, were forced to evacuate their homes and seek shelter elsewhere.

If there is a silver lining to such a tragic natural disaster, it can be found in the way the people of Minot banded together. North Dakotans are a resilient and proud group of people, and during this time of crisis they showed their true colors. Out of the thousands of people who lost their homes, less than five percent needed the use of government shelters. The rest were taken in by family, friends and even strangers. When the water finally receded and the enormous task of rebuilding was set out upon, the people banded together to help one another, without a single instance of violence or looting. Ultimately, the story of Minot’s flood is not simply one of tragedy, but the story of hope, community, and the best aspects of humanity.



Souris River Flood in Minot, ND

Souris River Flood in Minot, ND

Souris River Flood in Minot, ND


Making The Film
When director Jeffrey Eugene Hoch first approached Nick Smith via email about making the documentary, Nick was understandably hesitant. Not only had he never met Jeffrey, he was also unsure whether or not the proposal was serious. Over the course of several months, Jeffrey was able to convince Nick that he was indeed very serious. Finally, plans were set to shoot the documentary in the month of July, 2011. On a shoestring budget the skeleton field crew of just three (Jeffrey, camera operator Jared Ian Mills and sound recordist David Buzzard) prepared to embark on their journey by train and car from New York City to Minot, ND.

Just days before the crew was set to leave, the news broke that Minot was going to flood. They questioned whether or not they would be able to go ahead with the shoot. Their accommodations in Minot were directly next to an emergency dirt dike that was holding back a wall of nearly ten feet of water. Deciding to soldier on, the group set off on their cross-country journey just as the flood levels were peaking in Minot. New difficulties would arise as they head into a disaster zone, but the crew also knew that they would now have an additional task: capture the flood and all of its devastation on camera.

As the crew made the last leg of their journey to Minot, the flood forced them to take a detour off of the highway, and there they suffered a serious car accident. Luckily no one was hurt, but they were now stranded over two thousand miles from home just outside of the small town of Rugby, ND. The crew were taken in by a kind local and the next morning, more determined than ever, hitchhiked the rest of the way to Minot, where the adventure of making the film had yet to begin.



Behind the Scenes During the Making of 'The Platform Master'

Behind the Scenes During the Making of 'The Platform Master'

Behind the Scenes During the Making of 'The Platform Master'