Right now I'm in LA, living in the documentary editing room (literally) for one week. Ryan recently made a great 2p2 post explaining what we're up to with the movie. Basically, we had always intended on sending out our latest edit to a group of people whose opinions we really value -- experienced filmmakers, storytellers, poker industry professionals and the like -- who we could trust to supply us with the kind of brutal, critical feedback you need to truly see all your weak spots and how to fix them. Our SXSW edit is not bad at all (in fact I think if we released it many people would still enjoy it), but Ryan is right when he says it's just not good enough and doesn't quite do justice to the expectations we established with our first trailer, and to the story we set out to tell. I think it's fortuitous that we didn't get into Sundance, because it gives us a little bit more time to get this done right.
So where do you start once you make the decision to make some large structural changes to a story? After you go to the Tilt Room you get back to basics. What we had was a combination of a character driven narrative and a detailed expose of the shifty, shadowy nature of the online poker industry. That sounds intriguing on paper but because we're a documentary and reliant on footage we've shot already to tell the story, it was hard to make it completely resonate for an audience member who sits down with no preconceptions. We knew that Black Friday was the crux of the plot, and we knew that the way to deliver the most powerful story is in connecting with our characters and the choices they were making on various levels both before and after the pokerpocalypse. So once we made the decision to fully commit to telling their story through the shifting context of the online poker boom (rather than placing the emphasis on the details of the rise and fall of the industry), and after a lot of deep thinking, discussion, and index carding of scenes, we found the heart of our story again.
And with this new, clear angle in mind, we're repurposing what we have in full support of that heart.
Why should this matter to you? You've been waiting forever and like Ryan said, this probably sounds a lot like perfectionist nitpicking. But it's important to understand that we (and I mean we as a poker community, as enthusiasts of the game, of people who experienced the crazy thrills and spills of the past 10 years in this wild world) only have one shot to have a movie we can love and share that truly captures the spirit of what it was like to be a part of the online poker boom in the 2000s. The road to that movie may have been long and circuitous, but your continued support and enthusiasm for this project has really been a major driving force in getting us to the finish line with something we are confident that we will all be proud of. Thank you for that. As a creator there's nothing that makes you feel better, more optimistic and confident than support and faith from your audience.
Now back to work I go -- right now we're fine tuning and repurposing a fun scene that we've fondly referred to as "the Party Poker boom." Ahh, nostalgia.