The King of Kong
Every kid knows that trying to film yourself playing a video game doesn’t quite work out right. Video monitors reproduce badly on film or tape, with lines running up the screen. Making a whole movie about video game competitions, director Seth Gordon had to figure out how to present gaming to movie audiences. Luckily, the nature of stand-up arcade consoles threw The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters a bone.
Seth Gordon Brings King of Kong to the Bigscreen
“Luckily, video games are mounted sideways,” said Gordon. “In our case, there is actually some of that but because it’s mounted sideways, you don’t experience it the same way you do in traditionally shot in film. The tube doesn’t look like it does and it isn’t as bothersome. That’s just kind of the way it is.”
The film follows Steve Wiebe as he attempts to set a new high score on Donkey Kong. The crew followed him to the Funspot arcade where they captured his efforts in their documentary.
“There were times we had multiple cameras there and we would shoot with that intention. There were other times we just got lucky that over his shoulder, something important happened. At Funspot, we had five cameras all the time. It was all sort of chaos that we figured out in the end in post.”
The film becomes an epic struggle as the current title holder, Billy Mitchell, continually sabotages Wiebe’s attempts. Some of his sneaky methods, like breaking into Wiebe’s garage and releasing a secret video tape of an even higher score, seem downright evil.
“I gotta be careful with my word choice because I actually don’t think he’s evil. I think he was the best at a very young age and he got a lot of attention for being perfect, and I think that turned into a certain trap or a curse where he had to live up to these expectations of being the best at something and that exerted a lot of pressure on him. And I think now, a lot of what happens for him in his life is about maintaining that sense and creating and sustaining that persona.”
The film plays out like a classic sports movie, compete with montages set to ‘80s power rock. “We cut our dream soundtrack and then we couldn’t afford everything, so we reduced it to the ones we absolutely couldn’t live without. That’s it. I think we’re both tongue in cheek and authentic about wanting to create that feeling.”
The documentary has been so well received that New Line Cinema has optioned a feature film script of Steve Wiebe’s story. Gordon is set to direct the story for the second time. “I’d say the more exciting creative reason to do it is there’s a lot of stuff we couldn’t be there for which is just talking heads in the movie. I’d love the ability to recreate some of the stuff that we only have a fragment of like when the guys broke into the garage or whatever. There’s a lot of moments that we can only hear about in the doc that we could create in film and some of it would be really funny.”
Also, Gordon wants to have a film career. “Yeah, and Kong has led to three options right now. There’s one at Dreamworks, one at New Line which is Kong and another at Sony. They’re all directing jobs I wouldn’t have had had we not had Kong. It’s like a dream come true really.”
With a feature film though, Gordon will have to worry about the monitor lines. “If we redo this for New Line, we’re going to have to be a little more careful about that. You can synchronize the 24 frame camera that’s shooting to the output of the monitor and make it so that it works.”
The King of Kong opens to theaters on August 17th.
For the trailer, poster and more movie info, go to The King of Kong Movie Page.