By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Both Videogames the Movie and the upcoming eight-part documentary, Unlocked, the World of Games Revealed are a passion project from filmmaker Jeremy Snead. With the former, he focussed on certain aspects of an industry that he knew he could comfortably cover — history, culture and business — but as for what’s next, the seeds were already planted and to see the idea grow was required.
“I met a couple of producers that asked me what to make next if I could take my pick, and that’s where Unlocked started,” said Snead.
This new series will become available online Dec 15, through iTunes, Google Play, Steam and Amazon and a physical release with bonus material is being planned. The topics explored present more than a look at videogames impact upon society. It has celebrity correspondents who are genuinely interested in the subject they are presenting. To decide on what topics to explore was not easy for this producer. The list was huge. To match the right person to look into that particular aspect of an industry or part of the culture was not always easy. To decide on having eight topics explored throughout the eight episodes felt right, according to this director, and he joked, “How long do we need [to tell the story] without lingering too much without making it a Ken Burns 15 hour style docu-series?”
“It was difficult to boil down the huge list down to eight,” admitted Snead. “I’m a big game history nut, so for me, we could spend two full episodes just on that, but I knew there’s only a certain group of folks who like that and others who won’t.”
This director did not want to make another “talking head” documentary. He believes there’s a better dynamic feel and realism to a product when there are two or more people having a conversation, and thoroughly enjoying themselves. The bloopers at the end of each episode during credits attest to what this producer wants, and part of the joy comes from a personal connection Snead has with one of the segments as its explored in the series.
When he was young, his appendix ruptured and he was rushed to the hospital. He was required to stay there for three weeks to recover and for a child, that’s a long time. “My parents asked, ‘What do you want to help pass the time?’ I said I want my NES, and I was able to play Mario and Zelda — all my games. It really helped. Knowing that it’s happening now [through organizations like Child’s Play], I knew this application of using games to help long-term patients had to be covered,” said Snead.
“When exploring who would be good for this documentary’s look at rehabilitation and therapy with videogames in hospitals (through a lot of research), we landed on Zelda Williams. We know she’s passionate about that and she’s a gamer. It was a natural fit.
“We never knew when we were approaching these celebrities if they would be interested. We wanted to connect the dots with the topic with the best host and we really lucked out. Michael Rooker did a lot of motion capture for Call of Duty Black Ops, and I wondered if we could connect him with our shoot about performance capture. It went on and on that way until we got our whole lineup,” concluded Snead.
During Videogames, the Movie, this producer did reach out to a few Hollywood people, publicists included, whom he knew were fellow gamers or geeks. Sean Astin appeared in the original work, and during the process, the two became good friends and when pre-production began for Unlocked, this grown-up Goonie was quick to say, “Count me in. I’d love to help you produce.”