Wednesday, September 19, 2012

BOOM documentary blog

Ryan, Taylor and I are crawling out of the filmmaking abyss with a nearly finished movie. This is a wild combination of emotions for all of us.

We went into production almost two years ago, but since putting up our trailer in May 2011 we've been mainly radio silent. Our reasoning was simple: we consider ourselves really lucky to have the chance to tell the "story of online poker" on a cinematic scale, and we didn't want to screw it up. This is everyone's first feature and despite possessing a variety of useful experience, there are tons of lessons you only learn in the heat of battle. It turns out turning 300 hours of footage (even when you've carefully planned out what to shoot and why) into a 80-90 minute documentary is an incredibly difficult task. 

We originally planned to look at online poker with a certain focus: the evolution of poker as a game thanks to television and the Internet, and the evolution of the poker playing professional as he moved out of the card room and into the living room. We decided to follow three different pros to achieve this (Danielle "dmoongirl" Anderson, Tony "Bond18" Dunst and Martin "AlexeiMartov" Bradstreet), but Black Friday complicated the story hugely, and it took us some time to figure out the right way to address the impact within the movie. I'd like to say that we "cracked the code," but Ryan and I are so deep in the forest at this point, endlessly analyzing the minutiae of beats, scenes and sequences that it's tough to judge how good it is. I like this Woody Allen quote:
"I have an idea for a story, and I think to myself, my God, this is a combination of Eugene O'Neill, and Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller … but that's because [when you're writing] you don't have to face the test of reality. You're at home, in your house, it's all in your mind. Now, when it's almost over, and I see what I've got, I start to think: what have I done? This is going to be such an embarrassment! Can I salvage it? All your grandiose ideas go out the window. You realise you made a catastrophe, and you think: what if I put the last scene first, drop this character, put in narration? What if I shoot one more scene, to make him not leave his wife, but kill his wife?" 
Neuroses aside, we have shown early edits to a small group of people and reactions have been very positive. So this weekend we mail our tempered optimism and an advanced cut of the finished documentary to the Sundance film festival for consideration. No matter what happens, our ultimate goal remains to get this movie to as wide an audience as possible (likely in 2013)... but it would be SWEET!!! to world premiere at Sundance in January. Time to cash in all that Micros Rungood!

The idea that there is a world coming in which people will be watching a complete version of the movie is incomprehensible. Simultaneously it feels like this will be immensely satisfying, like we're samurai, surfing a hundred foot wave onto a poker table to topple Howard Lederer's stack.

Hahaha! Making a movie is nuts. I hope it doesn't suck.