We begin with the filmmakers. I met Scott through various connections on social media. We immediately hit it off as kindred spirits and children in adult bodies. After a few weeks ranting, scheming, and day dreaming we decided we should make a short film. We didn't have a plan, we just wanted to create something we knew we were capable of.
Cobra Arcade Bar. How we love you. The sheer awesomeness of this place is only eclipsed by the incredible spirit of the owners and staff. The atmosphere combined with incredible nostalgic arcade cabinets is enough to make a grown man shed a single tear. After our first pitch meeting Nico, Topher, and Ari (the Cobra Arcade Ownership/Management team) were pretty stoked on the idea and they were on board to make this happen. As they said “They’re artists and like to support other artists who are doing crazy stuff.”
Little known fact: In the original draft our "Grambo" character was a 9 year old girl with pig tails. Upon securing the bar location we had to change that character to a "loony toons" type grandmother. Barbara McBain absolutely nailed this character!
Hollywood talent? Check.
A-List Crew? Check.
Let's make this thing already! We had one full day in the desert to get all of our game world shots. Unfortunately it was extremely windy that day, so we had to be very careful with our light modifiers. Essentially, our flags and diffusers were 10-foot wind sails staked on the dusty Arizona desert flats, and we risked them flying off and hitting cast and crew at any moment if not sandbagged and tied down. Safety first. This slowed us down and limited us a bit. But after a long 14 hour day we wrapped to get some rest. We had the next day to recoup and prepare for a long night. Cobra operates as a functioning bar, so they don’t close until 2am each night. By the time we got set up we were rolling our first shot, it was already 4am. Sun was set to come up at 6:30am. We had to move fast and loose in the arcade to make our day but by the end of it we knew we got everything we needed and knew it would be great.
Let's get technical! We shot on the RED Epic, with Zeiss CP2 lenses. Huge shout out to Dragon Fly Picture Studios for the camera package. I like to keep my lighting set ups minimal and fast moving. Outside we used shiny boards, silks, and an ultra bounce. Inside the arcade we used 650 fresnels and 4x4 Kinos, all courtesy of Thunder Grip and Electric.
We still had a missing piece though... The Game God, aka the floating hologram head in the sky, and literally the voice of the Show No Mercy game. We considered a number of Hollywood actors but none seemed to satisfy what the character called for…an epic voice that could bring the sardonic deity to life. Scott had the wild idea to contact local legend and world-class DJ, John Holmberg from 98KUPD, the biggest and best rock station in Phoenix. John has been doing the morning show over there for 16 years and is an amazing voice talent. Sure enough, John loved the idea and a week later he was in my living room in front of a green screen making everyone laugh and bringing the character to life.
My advice to leave you with? Get out there and make your dreams come true! It may not happen in a day, week, or month. But if you keep sight of that end goal and you work hard you will absolutely get somewhere great. Dream big, think positive, execute often.