ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

BBS Documentaries Running Out —

Hey, I made a movie a while ago:

When I first started putting together this project, I had hubris indeed, and ordered 5000 copies, which is what showed up. That was in May of 2005.

Pre-orders were great – nearly 900. This paid for the duplication. After it came out, additional sales paid off the entirety of the production.

Since that May, I’ve been selling copies of this movie, along with a DVD-ROM called Dark Domain and a book called Commodork. All of this has been selling pretty well, considering it’s an independent project, it’s a documentary, it’s not about someone killing other people, and so on.

So here it is about 4.75 years later, give or take.

I’m down, by my estimate, to about 200-300 copies of the movie in my possession. The boxes are currently in two locations, so I am not 100% sure, but that seems about right.

At the trickling rate of the sales, I expected this would last me through the year.

However, I have a booth at PAX East, and I will be selling copies of BBS Documentary, along with a bunch of other stuff, as well as showing off GET LAMP and taking orders for that.

Therefore, I am bringing almost all the copies to sell. And with over 60,000 attendees, many of whom might not have known the GET LAMP guy did a previous documentary, or who never heard of this production until now, it may be an instant sell for them. I can’t tell. Maybe a handful will sell and that’ll be it. Who knows.

But I can tell you, without trying to be a sales sleazeball, that if you were thinking of buying a copy of the BBS Documentary, this would probably be a good time to do it. I will likely re-order, but we’re talking about masters that are very old, about a project that’s been in the vaults since 2005, and which I may have to save up money to be able to afford another run. A lot of factors, basically. Combined with the need to focus on GET LAMP, and so on, there could be a dry spell. That’s all. Thought I’d warn you.

Over the years, BBS Documentary grossed into the low six figures. There were a lot of costs involved and there are still a lot of things that eat into the apple, but I wanted my audience to know how much I appreciated this show of faith, and the many good words that have accompanied orders, not to mention conversations, showings, and all the rest of the fun. It’s been wonderful. I regret not a second I spent on BBS: The Documentary. Five of the interviewees have died, and we’re better for hearing what they had to say. And I’m a better person for having gotten out of the house to meet people, and falling in love with making film again.


Categorised as: documentary | housecleaning

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  1. casper says:

    So if I preordered my copy, but haven’t seen it yet, something s went wrong?

    • Jason Scott says:

      If you pre-ordered your BBS documentary in 2005 and you haven’t received it, something is wrong.
      If you pre-ordered your GET LAMP/Adventure documentary in 2009-2010 and haven’t received it, nothing is wrong.

  2. Alkivar says:

    if you dont mind Jason, could you post a list of the contributors who are no longer with us?

  3. Damn… I’ve just exhausted my monthly amusement budget with the Matrix Ultimate Edition (Blu-ray) boxset, some MS-DOS books and other things.

    So I hope to be able to get the documentary at the end of March….

  4. I already own my DVD set of the BBS documentary, but to others who may be thinking about it: Buy it! It is great stuff and one of the very few explanations (and a very good one) of the BBS era.

  5. Rubes says:

    There are many, many of us who appreciate the effort and care you put into that excellent production. Can’t wait to see GET LAMP!

  6. Jason Scott says:

    People who are not with us: Ross Lamorra (Ratphun in the movie), Milky Puppy/Ninjalicious, The Ole Frog (Ryugen Fisher), Ben Gardiner, John Sheetz.

  7. Chris Gordon says:


    Just want to thank you for making the BBS Documentary and I can’t wait for your other projects (will definitely purchase them all). I re-watch the BBS Doc periodically, remembering “the good ol’ days”. It even kept me occupied on a cross country flight last week. Even better it let me show my wife what the state of the art used to be and where I spent some of my childhood.


  8. Church says:

    Amazon: “Sign up to be notified when this item becomes available.”


  9. Grimmtooth says:

    You’re probably preaching to the choir, but I can’t pass up the opportunity to say how much I appreciated that doc. A lot of my life is locked up in BBSs, many friends meant, and I even married one of them. I’m so happy that someone captured even a sliver of that part of our lives.

  10. JayP says:

    If you don’t have this DVD in your collection, shame on you. Really- get this as soon as you can and be ashamed of the time you spent without it.
    I pre-ordered Get Lamp without reservation.

    Commodork is a good read too. Get them all.

  11. Nate says:

    I’m another happy BBS Documentary owner. Bought it, watched it, love it, pre-ordered Get Lamp and am hanging out for whatever the next doc will be.

    BBSes, man. Those were the days when real men * roamed the Net

    * or in my case, real high-school kids. But it was awesome.

  12. Grimmtooth says:

    @Nate – that shit was ALL awesome. We just didn’t notice it.

  13. David Brake says:

    Once you have sold through the remainder could you put the documentary into the public domain? It would be really useful to be able to (for example) use parts of it for teaching.

  14. casper says:

    Ha. my bad Jason. I’ve ordered the getlamp doc. :\ just didn’t register the title (or any much of this entry) properly before i posted…

    Excuse: i’ve been sick and delirius the last few days.

  15. Some Other Jason says:

    With the delay on GET LAMP can I make a request? Hold aside a few (a dozen would probably be more than enough) for people who know they want GET LAMP but are on the fence about BBS.

    Basically, I played enough adventure games when I was a young’un to know I’d like the documentary, but I never really had a chance to get into BBSes. The topic sounds kind of interesting, but I’m going to use GET LAMP as a gauge to see if BBS will be worth it to me.

    Yes, I could torrent BBS and watch it that way to find out. If I thought hunching over my laptop was a good was to watch movies I’d be doing it all the time.

    On the other hand, I know you’ve been sitting on these things for close to five years now, and my wanting a copy isn’t a sure thing, so I understand if you’re happy to unload them all at PAX East.

  16. mjy says:

    files missing
    could you please update links

  17. Fang says:

    Hey, Jason, you might want to check out

    It seems relevant to your interests…

  18. Steve says:

    that is a totally awesome game. Just started it, but it’s really cool.

  19. Bryan says:

    What about putting it up on Netflix for streaming/rental or posting it as a paid download, iTunes Store, etc. Sure you have a few copies left, but wouldn’t digital distribution be more cost effective than running another production of discs?

  20. JaWods says:

    I just finished watching The BBS Documentary, I was on the fence about it for ages. I was briefly into BBSs & Fidonet around 1994-5 before getting into the internet. So while I could relate to the subject I really missed the core BBS years but made the purchase because I want to support these kinds of projects.

    The film is more like an anthropological study, as its not really telling a story like a mainstream doc but is more like reconnecting an old community whose homes were torn down for an overpass and then recording their reminisces. While the film is not for a mainstream audience, I feel that it is a major work on computer history (and DIY digital filmmaking).

    I was continually surprised at how much I enjoyed each episode. Nice work Jason, hopefully this subject will get further detailing in a book or other media works.

  21. Eric says:

    @Bryan, he has discussed this on his blog:

  22. nimbus says:

    BBS files appear to be missing here: