When you’re making an indie documentary, efficiency is everything. It’s a shoe-string budget, or often no budget at all, really. For this reason, big gatherings, expos, or conventions about what you’re filming are beyond gold; they present make or break opportunities. When you can’t be flying all over the world interviewing the key experts and personalities for your film, having a location where you can find them all in one shot is ideal. For Going Cardboard, the two events that served this function were the Gathering of Friends in Ohio, and the Essen Spiel show in Germany.
This past weekend was the 2013 Chicago Pinball Expo, a key event for the filming of Shoot Again: The Resurgence of Pinball. Not only does it take place in Stern Pinball’s backyard, important members of the pinball community from overseas like Andrew Heighway of Heighway Pinball and Jonathan Joosten of Pinball Magazine are in attendance. These are important players in the current pinball resurgence, but would otherwise be hard for us to get to.
This was also my first Expo, so I was beyond excited at the idea of meeting members of the industry that I have deeply admired for ages, like George Gomez and Steve Ritchie. So it was especially devastating when I had a family issue that caused me to have to cancel my flight last-minute. But I also felt like I was letting down my partner on this project, Blake Faucette, who was going to have to do the filming solo, without the support of someone conducting the interview so he could focus on the technical side. It was a full spectrum of negative emotions.
I vowed to myself that I would make up for it by being that virtual support team, coordinating everything despite being halfway across the country. I had all the questions prepared, and all the contact information for the people we wanted to include, after all. So I would just have to use the powers of modern technology to make it happen. Like how Hammond walks Dr. Sattler through the power shed in Jurassic Park, but hopefully with better results…
And you know what? It worked. I still feel deep regret on a personal level, because there was a Stern launch party for the new Star Trek pinball at this event (I’m a huge trekkie!), as well as some very BIG announcements, like the remake of Medieval Madness, a top collector’s pinball machine, or the mysterious viral campaign of The Big Lebowski pinball, to be produced by who even knows yet. I didn’t get to meet all the cool members of the pinball community I have gotten to know virtually. And I felt like I was letting the team down. I wanted to BE THERE.
But what I did do was keep the key interviews happening. Through email and texting, from my little command center known since Going Cardboard times as Studio B, and I think it worked out pretty well. Maybe even better in some ways, like when we got an unexpected industry legend scheduled for interview, and I was able to refresh myself on his background to come up with the right question set. We got through almost all the ones we’d hoped to get, and I believe the final count was 18 interviews or so (I’ll leave it to be posted on the official Shoot Again website what details we want to share about who). That’s phenomenal. It doesn’t conclude filming, but it gets us the majority of the way there, the shape of the film is coming into focus, and I’m stoked. It’s shaping up to be a work that properly reflects why pinball is really exciting right now.
The credit goes to Blake here, none of this could have happened without him, and he made the sacrifice of being away from his family and going without sleep to get all this done. I think the lesson in it for me though, was that there will always be snags, but there are ways around almost any problem if you’re determined, and modern technology really has made it possible to almost be places you can’t actually be.
For more images, visit the Shoot Again Facebook Page. Thanks for making it happen, Blake! This film is going to be fantastic.
Tags: documentary, pinball