ASCII by Jason Scott

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The Next Documentary —

I think the BBS Documentary surprised a lot of people by being so huge and coming out of nowhere. Just like some of my websites, that was definitely the intention – go from zero to 100mph and a massive collection, so that people who didn’t know they wanted something got it in spades. It has been very popular and gotten a lot of attention, both as a product and a documentary. I even had to do another re-order of the DVDs to be able to keep selling them – that means I’ve sold at least 4300 copies.

Not a week goes by, to this day, that I don’t get some communication about that series and what it means to people, or what memories it brought back – you name it.  It has been a wild success.

Deciding what I wanted to do next was slightly more difficult, including whether I wanted to do another one at all. Shooting the BBS Documentary as long as I did and with so much work had taken a lot out of me and my life. But the joy of bringing that project to fruition won me over to doing it again, except with a smaller focus. So after much thought, I went after text adventures and interactive fiction. GET LAMP was the result.

So, there were two specific reasons I went after interactive fiction as the subject: I felt a reasonable bond and knowledge of that culture/world, and it was obvious that no such documentary was going to ever appear again, at least within the reasonable lifetimes of the main participants.

A question that never became a factor was how difficult it might be to take the text adventure story and experience and put it online – I knew it would be difficult, and that the resulting work would appeal to a specific audience, and so on. I knew this going in, and when the film was done, this is what happened… some people really loved it, some people were a little confused, and some people liked one thing or set of things more than another.  But the fact remained – my audience had a choice of what to pick from, where before there was nothing at all.

So, I did right by the subject – it helped rejuvenate a genre to a small amount, got “the story” down, and we got to tell a whole host of really awesome folks how awesome they are. It will never be a mainstream documentary, and it was never meant to be, and I was happy to spend the years on it.

Now, what’s next.

Well, I’ve got a couple ideas, and shortly I’ll be announcing them, with trailers and a website and all the rest.

One will be the “classic” Jason Scott documentary type that people seem to think I’ll do, that is, a subject explored so hugely that it takes up multiple storage units and which has tons of footage and interviews and the rest. And perhaps the last big (or only) documentary on the subject.

The other will be a video podcast series. But more specifically, it will be a series of episodes, maybe half an hour apiece, covering a piece of the main subject and being released frequently, maybe every few months or even quicker, so that people don’t have to wait until whatever, 2013 or 2014, to see more work from me. Eventually there would be a deluxe product at the end of it, although by that time, actually in both cases, we’re possibly talking USB stick inside a custom case. I suspect digital download sales to have settled by then as well.

To do this, I will be putting up a kickstarter, asking for a significant chunk of change. Very significant.

If the kickstarter doesn’t make it, I won’t make the films. I will, in fact, stop making films – I can’t afford to make them on my own anymore.

But if it makes it, then that is what I will do for the forseable future.

It’s going to be interesting to see where it goes.

Categorised as: computer history | jason his own self

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  1. Jake McGraw says:

    I recently watched this documentary ostensibly on the Macintosh computer:

    Welcome to Macintosh

    There were some areas just were just difficult to watch, the video filler equivalent of a made-for-Digg article “Coolest 10 Apple Milestones.” The best parts IMO were by a sound engineer who worked at Apple and his descriptions of the internal politics behind the design decisions for icon Apple features (like the Mac startup sound).

    The whole work kind of crystalized what makes a good documentary, interviewees that can provide a take on their experience, versus a bad documentary, which tries to create some giant narrative without backing it up.

    Anyway, I wanted to say that I will continue to support your work and I am eagerly awaiting more output.

  2. Chris says:

    I enjoyed “Welcome to Macintosh”, one of a series of Apple-related documentaries that CNBC aired last year.

    Cringely’s “Triumph of the Nerds” is one of the best tech documentaries that I’ve ever watched. I consider Jason’s work to be in the same league, and will be happy to support his next project.

  3. nimbus says:

    Is “Arcade” the next project? I’d contribute some cash to that.

  4. Mmmbacon says:

    Im in. Don’t even have to tell me what it/they will be about. Can’t wait to hear though. Lookin forward to it!!!!!!

    /me throws some of my hope Karma for Arcades….)

  5. Rubes says:

    I’m with bacon. Just point me in the right direction, and I’m in.