BEEP - Yoko Shimomura, composer for Mario & Luigi RPGs, Kingdom Hearts.
Film Title: Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound
Logline: From Sound Chips to the Symphony!
Length: (Festival Cut) 1 hr 14 minutes
Director: Karen Collins
Producer: Karen Collins
Writer: Karen Collins
Karen Collins is Canada Research Chair in Interactive Audio at the Games Institute, University of Waterloo. She has published four books on game sound, and worked on a number of short films before embarking on Beep.
Key cast: Nobuo Uematsu, Marty O’Donnell, Yoko Shimomura, George “The Fat Man” Sanger
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists
Journalists, festival directors.
Funders: Kickstarter, Ehtonal, inc. Various sponsors, including Dolby, Fmod, Audiokinetic, CanadaScience and Technology Museum
Release date: March 15, 2016
Where can I watch it? The film can be pre-ordered online at gamessound.com
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Video game sound to me is a fascinating history that blends creativity with technological constraint. Even when we move beyond technological constraints, there are many challenges that remain to do with creating non-linear music for games. It’s a whole different way of thinking about music where instead of simply moving from A to B, you move from A to D to C to F to X and so on. I’ve been fascinated by this challenge for over a decade.
But to me, the real reason for making the film was to pay homage to the people who made all the sounds that I’ve had stuck in my head my whole life! I wanted to get to know these people, find out what they did and how and why, and share that history with other people who might be curious about all those “beeps and boops”.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
If you’ve ever played a video game, you’ve probably had a song stuck in your head for days. If you’ve never thought about what went into making that music, or why the music sounded the way it did, you’ll learn something by watching this film.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Many of the people involved in game audio have been neglected in a sense: They don’t get the glory of Hollywood composers and sound designers, and often work alone in their studios without a lot of feedback. For me, making this film was a way of providing a tribute to these people, an homage to the work that they’ve done and what it meant to me in my life.
We tried to get that sense of appreciation across in the film, and I think a lot of people can relate to the idea of not always getting the recognition that they deserve, or the amount of work that goes into a project that goes unnoticed.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
Well, it’s a documentary, so we knew going in what we wanted to achieve. We didn’t get to interview everyone we wanted to, and we didn’t get the rights cleared for all of the music we would have liked to have included in the film, but we were happy with how the film developed.
The trickiest part for us was distilling 240 hours of footage down to an hour of film. Our first edit was nearly 12 hours long—there was just a lot of great content that we ended up having to cut out!
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Everyone has been very positive so far, although we’ve mostly screened it to our core audience of game-audio related people. We’re curious to see how a more general audience will receive the film. The one screening we did for a more general audience surprised us in how positive the reception was!
It was hard to know if people who aren’t absorbed in the game world would find it engaging enough, but everyone really enjoyed it, and everyone has been able to take something from the film so far.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We’d just like people to be aware that we exist! We recognize that we’ve got a fairly niche subject in one way, but in another way, a huge portion of the population can hum the music from their favourite game, but probably can’t tell you who wrote that music! We want to bring recognition to the people who made those games happen, and gave us this soundtrack to our lives!
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
At this point, we’d love to get into some more festivals and help spread the word through press & podcasts!
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Ultimately, I’d like the people involved to get some recognition for their work—the composers, sound designers, musicians, and voice actors that we interviewed. They work so hard, often putting in incredibly long hours with little feedback or acknowledgement.
I’d like the game developers who watch the film to come away with an appreciation of the audio team. And I’d like a general audience to become more interested and more curious about sound in general!
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
At the centre of the film is the relationship between creativity and technology, specifically looking at how changes in technology drive changes in creative approach.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
We’re working on releasing all of the interviews we filmed during production, which amounts to over 80 different interviews. We’re also planning on developing an online interactive version of the content with added extras, so we’re still working on this project for at least another year or two.