Man vs. Snake Omaha Film Festival Panel

manvssnake-coverTim: At the time King of Kong was made, Tim Sczerby was the champion and he’s not even in it. There’s a bunch of conspiracy theories like oh they left him out, this, that and what ever. I told everybody about Dwayne, I told them about Rick and about elijah. I wanted everybody to get their credit. I wanted to make sure that they were aware of everyone involved in everything that was going on with Nibbler.

The final story that they told when they got down to editing came from over 500 hours of footage. I made a commitment that I wasn’t going to play again, even after Rick and Elijah beat my score, I said I wasn’t going to play again. Every time I play, we change the story – we add more footage, we drag this out longer. Just tell the story. Pick a story. End with me having the record, end it with someone else having the record – end it how you want to end it, but let’s get this movie done. This story is done. You want to do another one, make a sequel.

So, I’m going to give these guys a chance to talk about it. They too were heavily involved.

Walter: Well, you know, I’ve said for quite a long time that movies like this, and this is a very special movie, this is a great movie. It’s so much fun and I personally, every time we get to the point where your mother serves the macaroni and cheese, I kinda get teary-eyed because it’s such a dear part of the film for me. In fact, the macaroni and cheese is one of the things I learned from all this stuff. All the politicians right now who are debating, if they could just be fed macaroni and cheese, how much smoother everything would go. How much it would simplify every single thing in the world. Macaroni and cheese.

While thinking of it, I have Tim McVey trading cards. You can get him to sign these after these are over.

My final thought is that it’s not about video games, but it’s just like we were saying in the movie. It’s about humanity. It’s about community, about family and friendships and all about personal growth. And that’s what you see happening at every step of the movie. People growing, unfolding themselves, and also learning how to relate to people better and embrace other people. And to support other people. That to me is the most beautiful part of the film. I’m very excited to see what’s going to happen with this film because it has so many warm spots in it, so much fun in it that it’s probably going to become quite popular. Don’t you guys think it’s going to be popular?

Audience yelled several repeated yeses and applause.

manvssnake-screen-1Glenn: This was very interesting, thank you for letting us be a part of it. The one thing I didn’t know – was it Tom Asaki I think was working on it?

Tim: Yes.

Walter: Tom was the guy that was smoother and better looking.

Glenn: The video where they had the technician working on the game while he was playing it – been there done that. That scene where you saw Nibbler was outside of the lines? I was there, inside the door, trying to work on it while Tim was playing the game. So it does happen. And it repeats itself

Pat: I think I like the message of this. I liked seeing the completed project even though I knew somewhat of how it was coming together. But this stands for kind of what I’ve done in my industry of video games while Tim is playing games, I was in the business of the games. We just celebrated our 31st anniversary and I’ve had a lot of video games that changed throughout time. From home gaming to arcade gaming, but throughout the years I keep plugging forward and going for what I want.

So I really, really loved the message coming out of this movie. There’s a lot to learn and it’s like he said get out there and get it.

Trickman Terry: I had a very, very, very small part in the video, but needless to say it was more about encouragement than anything else. I was there to encourage tim to go for it. No matter how many times he tried. I was there a couple of times when he tried. Get on the streams, say what other people were saying and trying to encourage him to keep going and give his wife a bit of a break and stay up with him.

So it’s really just about helping him do his quest and on the Christmas one, you see him on the phone – I believe that’s me on the phone with him because I was ecstatic and I had to call him and I was like “you did it, I wasn’t there, but you did it!”

It was awesome, so awesome that he did it. I had to let him know how proud of him I was. I wanted him to do it and I was ecstatic when it happened. It’s really just a film about chasing your dreams and you can keep doing it.

Tim: Anybody have any questions for anybody up here?

Audience member: So what is nibbl…just kidding. Two questions actually. One is how involved were you in the making of the movie, instead of just being the subject matter of the movie? And the other is how did not knowing what the timeline of the movie was going to be, you know how many weeks/months/years of filming was going to take, how did that affect the making of the movie?

From left: Trickman Terry, Tim McVey, Patrick O'Malley, Glenn Thomas and Walter Day.

From left: Trickman Terry, Tim McVey, Patrick O’Malley, Glenn Thomas and Walter Day.

Tim: I was primarily the subject. I didn’t have anything to do with the making of it. The only footage I saw before the release that premiered in Austin was the stuff that I was in. I hadn’t seen anything else. I mean I heard they had been to Canada and they had filmed Dwayne, they went and interviewed Billy and they went to Italy and all of that stuff. But I didn’t pester Tim and Andy – the two guys that made this movie, Tim Kinzy and Andy Seklir.

I’ve been asked millions of times it seems like over the last eight years “Where’s the film?” “What are they doing?” “What’s the details?” I tell everybody “I don’t know.” I think a lot of people thought I was bullshitting them and that I knew more than I was saying about what was going on and I really didn’t. I let them do their job. They had a story they had in mind that they were telling. They really went into it.

Originally they kinda outright accused Dwayne of cheating. Then they followed through on it and tried to get to the bottom of it and you see what the answer was in the film. So they didn’t just take something and just run with it.

When Walter and I first went to the Video Game Summit in Chicago they were talking about King of Kong and there was a bunch of King of Kong questions there. Todd Rogers answered one of them by saying if I had eleven copies of the same script of the movie and I gave them to 11 different directors, what do you think you’d see? His point was you’d see 11 different movies, even though the script was the same, you wouldn’t see it the same way. Each person would interpret it differently and I was told there was a lot of creative editing in that movie. I can say from the stuff I was involved in, specifically, they did a great job. They didn’t try to make something that wasn’t there. They didn’t try to create something that wasn’t there. They told a story and I think they did a great job.

What was your other question?

Audience member: How did not knowing what the timeline was going to be affect the making of the movie? You could have broken the record the first time you sat down

Tim: That was annoying.

Audience member: I didn’t mean to say it like why didn’t you? I mean it could have taken four weeks to shoot the movie instead of

Tim: Well some of the changes with the score. Like someone else has the record now. Part of it was my job and getting time off to actually play. And I didn’t know how long Tim and Andy were going to wait. I didn’t know what their story was at the time. You know, I didn’t know they were kind of sitting there waiting on me. Nobody said “Hey Tim, we’re waiting on you to set this record.” I might have sped it up a little bit then. But they didn’t tell me that. I kept thinking “Man, are they going to finish this? Are they going to finish it?” Then they didn’t. And then I won the record back and they were like “finally we’ve been waiting for you to break the record so we could tell the story!”

Obviously, there at the end of the film, the story didn’t stop there. Once they got down to editing and we found out all the hours and all the clips and it was a lot more time consuming than I think they even realized. But I was hands off. I didn’t call them, I wasn’t emailing them, I wasn’t bugging them. If they called me and told me, I knew. If they didn’t, I didn’t, that was it. I let them do their job.

Audience member: How much did this weigh on you emotionally?

Tim: Considerably. I hate failing. I really hate quitting. But like Tom Asaki said, when your lives are slowly going down and you can see it and you can’t do anything about it, you know the game’s over, it’s just not done yet because there are lives left. At that point, the hardest thing in the world to do is keep playing. You know it’s over. You can see the score. Do the kind of quick math in your head, you realize you’re not going to get it. That was extremely frustrating. Not knowing when it was going to be done was frustrating.

They did the Kickstarter and they said in February 2014 it would be released – they missed. I’ve been asked repeatedly over the last few years, even now they have a distribution deal in place, but no release date yet so I still don’t know when it’s going to come out. It’s frustrating, not knowing what the final product was going to be – that part of it is removed now. I’m happy with the result. I think they did a really good job. But I still can’t tell you when it’s going to come out because I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

Audience member: Now, you’ve already alluded to this a bit Tim, but is the Billy Mitchell we know from The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters the same Billy Mitchell we saw in this movie as a different guy. What is your take on Billy Mitchell himself?

Tim: The Billy you saw on this video is the guy I know. I’ve known Billy since back in the early 80’s of Twin Galaxies and he’s always been friendly Bill. From what I saw on King of Kong, I think they kind of went out of their way to make him look like an asshole to some point. Everybody can look like that. That’s what I was a little fearful of with the editing. They had so much footage on me, I could have looked like the biggest dick you’ve ever met or I could have looked like the nicest guy you’ve ever met – if they decided to take it one direction or the other. I think they kind of went neutral and put me out there as me and if they had had more Billy, they probably would have showed that as well. He’s always been a really good guy that I’ve really liked.

Audience member: So I didn’t think it was possible to enjoy a gaming documentary more than I enjoyed King of Kong, but this did it. Thank you.

Tim: I’m proud of it, I really am.

clash-of-clansAudience Member: So I saw in your home a lot of posters for Guitar Hero, Rockband , etc. I can’t imagine playing a game other than World of Warcraft. What is your other favorite new game that is out there right now?

Tim: You guys are going to laugh at this. My 12 step addiction game right now is Clash of Clans. I have four bases on that. A town hall 7, two town hall 8s and a townhall 9. So I’m just a bit addicted. Beyond that, I play everything. I mean if it comes out, I play it. I’ve played everything from back in the day to now. A lot of the newer stuff I don’t have. I’ve put a lot of time into Clash tho. My wife and I got into Diablo III and we put 300 hours into that over the last year or so. That’s not real new, but it’s a game we both really enjoy while playing it together online. So we put a lot of time into that, but pretty much everything.

(There was a pause in questions and Walter takes mic)

Walter: This is real important. On the weekend of August 7, coming up this summer in Ottumwa, Tim officially gets inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame. Everybody is invited.

Tim: If you come on the 7th, bring me cake. It’s my birthday.

Audience member: I just wanted to say that was an extraordinary film. I just followed the crowd in. I didn’t know what it was about. I’ve never watched video games and I thought this was the best film of the festival.

Tim: Thank you. You know, when they first told me the title of Man vs. Snake, all I could think of was Steve Irwin. “Crikey look at that snake. He’s angry now.” and said nobody will know it’s about video games. I’ve heard many different comments on that.

Audience member: The animation was awesome. How did that come about?

Tim: They kinda had to figure out how to fill in the holes from the historical stuff that they didn’t have footage of. Their answer was the animation. I thought it was pretty cool.

Anybody else for me or anybody else up here?

Audience member: Quick question for Walter. Following up on Twin Galaxies, I know there’s not a physical location. Is there anything you want to tell people on that?

Walter: Well Twin Galaxies was found in November 1981. It became the scorekeeper for the whole world when it was only three months old. It was the place that organized competitive esports almost 35 years ago. The arcade did close along with the failure of the global arcade industry back in 1984, but the scoreboard continued onward and does have a website. There is a big initiative right now to try and re-open Twin Galaxies in Ottumwa, Iowa. It may be open in time for the big celebration in August when Tim and others are inducted.

Tim: I’m going to do this to her anyway. Does anyone have any questions for my wife? She’s been through this whole process, I can never get her up here. Chris, take her phone so you can film, I want her up here.

Audience cheers and claps, chanting Tina.

Tim: She’s seen the good. She’s seen the bad. She’s dealt with the moods and the attitudes. So she probably has seen way more than anybody needs to see about the game.

Audience member: Tina, do you have any addictions that Tim has to put up with?

Tina: I have five cats and two dogs and he puts up with all of them.

Audience member: During the whole thing, how did you keep your sanity when his emotions swung from one end to the other?

Tina: To be honest, I think I went a little insane pretty much all points during it. When he actually did the record at Christmas time he didn’t think I was going to actually stay awake. When you saw on the video when he said “You’re going to stay awake?” and he laughed, he thought I was crazy. I actually did stay awake the whole entire time. No energy drinks, no coffee, no caffeine. I don’t drink soda so I haven’t had a soda in five years. I mean there was no caffeine what so ever. I stayed awake the whole entire time.

Tim: She had never stayed awake more than 20 hours before. She stayed awake for 40.

Audience member: what did you do during that time? Did you just watch him?

Tina: I watched him. Like all the other times we had the stream feed up so people would ask questions and I would read the questions to him and he had the camera up so he would answer them.

Tim: Basically anything I needed. If I needed something to drink or something to eat – macaroni and cheese.

Audience member: what’s your secret to a great macaroni and cheese?

Tina: Kraft. Anybody else?

Tim: Thank you all for coming.

About Grace "Kayhynn" Snoke

Grace Snoke is a corporate journalist and author who enjoys gaming, reading, writing and jewelry making. Outside of her day job, she writes for a number of sites including: Video Game Scoreboard.com, Obsolete Gamer, SciTech Nerds and for a couple blogs and sites she owns. You can learn more about her adventures as an author here.

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