ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

8-Bit Generation – It Lives. (And has a Kickstarter.) —


Way back in 2012, I posted something, talking about how worried I was that a documentary that looked and sounded great seemed to have disappeared. I’d looked far and wide to contact the filmmakers, and nothing. But I wanted to at least put my voice out there, in case they wanted to talk to me. Unlike people who talked big about what they wanted to do, the small amount of footage I’d seen from the documentary looked so fantastic that I very nearly quit doing documentaries.

Like a lot of people, I’d pre-ordered the blu-ray edition for the forthcoming film, and I’d waited. And waited, and then nothing came of it, websites went down, and I squirreled away the trailer and other footage I’d seen, sad beyond belief such a promising work seemed to be doomed, destined for the shadows of promises and wishes.

Then, in 2014, I got contacted by one of the creators. Yes, they were alive. Yes, they had a lot of pieces of the movie. And yes, they’d run into incredible financial problems, gone bankrupt, lost homes, had massive layoffs… yes, as expected, there had been some incredible shitshow and the production company was essentially gone. They’d had to go into other directions, and put the project into a box and refund whatever they could afford to refund, and make a living.


So, they’d contacted me, asking if I knew anything that could be done. They were paralyzed. They had footage, and major swaths were done, but the project needed more resources to finish, and anyway, everybody in the world hated them for how it’d all blown up.

Here’s what I’m telling them, and what I’m telling you.

There’s really three choices at a juncture like this. They are:

  • Never touch it again. Everything disappears. Gone.
  • Edit and put together something salable, even if less ambitious.
  • Dump all the footage into the Internet.

We agreed that the first was a horrible situation and should be avoided at all costs. Not even an actual option, really, even though at that moment it was the easiest.

The third was (and still is) an option but really should be a last and final resort, since raw footage is hardly the kind of thing to educate like a film would, would be of interest to a tiny, tiny audience of nerds who like to listen to people cough and act confused, and ultimately would be a shame considering all of the work that went into it.

That left the idea of putting something together. That won.

I then talked to the XOXO festival organizers, suggesting that maybe it would be interesting to have one of the producers come from Italy to show some footage for the first time and show what happened. They heartily agreed. This is what happened:

Here’s the resulting presentation:

After that, Bruno (the one on stage) headed back to Italy and they began trying to put together a plan for how to put the movie out, however they could.

So they announced a kickstarter last week. Here is a link to the Kickstarter.

As of this writing, it’s a little less than halfway there. (I tend to use Kicktraq to see trends and understand how it’s all going.)

Let’s make it clear: I gave these folks something like $100 for the pre-order a couple years back. That money is gone. Gone, gone, gone. I lost my $100. But now, in the present day, I have given $100 to them again for this kickstarter.

Am I a sucker? Am I a rube? No, I’m somebody who has seen the footage, knows how fleeting and fragile documentary projects can be, and I want to see this thing live.

There is footage in here of Jack Tramiel, talking about his time running Commodore and Atari. I can’t begin to tell you how rare this is. Jack is quite gone – he died soon after they filmed him. He would never talk to anyone about his time there, and certainly not on camera. Just that alone would make me give hundreds to ensure some version of this film is made.

But there are so many interesting behind the scenes folks, people who were managers and logistics and programmers and employees, besides folks who are the big names you would hope to see. This is a breathtaking accomplishment. I want to see something of this come out.

There are spectacularly angry people out there about how this has all gone down to the present moment. They paid money and the money is gone. They want some apologies and they want some consideration. I told the creators this – that there would be a wave of outrage. I’ve seen what people do over $10 – what they do over $75 or $100 would be close to murderous. They are going to end up giving away a lot of free copies of this movie at the end of this.

But you have to take the lashings, the earned punches and the screams. There’s no way for that to be avoided (and frankly it shouldn’t). But out the other end, one hopes, just enough people will step forward and provide enough money to make this happen.

Again, here’s the kickstarter. The choice is yours.

Categorised as: documentary

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  1. Here’s hoping no more shit gets in the way of this coming out! I’ve been waiting for this since I first heard you mention it a couple years ago. Backed!

  2. Alan Ralph says:

    Already backed, really hoping this comes to fruition.

  3. Michael Kohne says:

    I might yet back, but the risks section on the Kickstarter page (“There is no risk: all interviews and additional footage are already shot. We just need to pack everything in an awesome documentary!”) really makes me wonder if they are just going to choke again.

  4. Nate B says:

    I missed this the first time around, and I’m glad for the chance to support it this time. Kudos to the folks behind it for standing back up and moving forward again!

    I hope everyone who lost money on it the first time will understand that the creators lost a lot too, and that this time I’m sure nobody cares more than the creators about making sure this goes according to plan. (That’s not a substitute for due diligence, but just a hunch they’ve done plenty now that maybe they didn’t before!) I would understand completely if most of those first-time backers stayed away this time, opting instead to let some other batch of guinea-pigs fund this round, in hopes that it’ll succeed, this time.

    And if they do (stay away), and if we do (fund this round), and if it does (succeed), I hope the contributions of those original backers will be recognized and appreciated right along with the new batch. Everyone plays a role here, and if this thing sees the light of day, it will all be worth it.

  5. Thank for helping (pushing) them Jason. I really hope they will make it, and from the kickstarter it looks like first batch will be ok.

    As I have told here and on the kickstarter, I`m not mad about the money, even if $100 is quite some money. I`m more irritated that they still have not reached out to us first time-backers. That we have to contact them to ask them about some answers/free copy is making me itch.

  6. Ane Trotte says:

    I think they have priceless footage and I really hope to see it released.

    That said, and considering what Jason wrote above (“they’d run into incredible financial problems, gone bankrupt, lost homes, had massive layoffs … the production company was essentially gone.”), I am surprised to find no mention of this on the Kickstarter page, except for this: “we nearly went broke a couple of times, but never gave up”. Which is it, did they go bankrupt or not? Or are they being cagey and saying “well, the company went bankrupt, but the owners did not declare personal bankruptcy”?

    Knowing the history of the project, it also seems disingenuous for them to write a “Risks and Challenges” section saying only “There is no risk”. At the very least they should own up to their past actions.

    So while I like the project, the fact that the creators are withholding important information, distorting the truth, and in general being less than transparent about the whole thing does not inspire confidence.

    Full disclosure: I did not take part in the first fundraiser and have no ties, financial or otherwise, with the project or its creators.

  7. WOW! This is a tremendous accomplishment. I can’t wait to see the final artifact. I will definitely support this project. You rock Jason. You are always on the bleeding edge of where technology has been and where it’s heading.


  8. […] An enormous thank to Jason Scott: he has supported us since the beginning and give us the motivation to be here. Yesterday, on his blog, has written his thoughts and he was fantastic! You can read it here: […]

  9. Library Geek says:

    Sorry I didn’t see this till today and missed the funding period. Any other opp to contribute?

  10. […] to Scott's empathy and support, the film's producers came out of hiding and sought to finally finish what they'd begun. A successful Kickstarter this past fall produced the necessary funds to see the film through to […]