ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Building a Cast List —

I like to think one of the real distinct aspects of the technical documentaries I’ve done so far are the cast lists – the list of interviewees that I pull from to get the story the documentary is aiming for. In more standard situations, the cast lists tend to be rather small and have a few “big names”, a couple “experts”, and then a whole lot of still frames. I don’t work that way. BBS Documentary had 205 interviews, GET LAMP had about 80. I suspect that the three new documentaries will have at least 300 interviews, but who knows how it’ll all shake out.

(I successfully got funded, by the way. Thanks, everyone.)

Oh, and the places they’ll go! The worlds I’ll combine, the subjects that they’ll cover! It’s going to be quite an amazing spectrum.

To help myself, I have a number of utilities and tools to keep track of things. Among them is something I call the Cast Constructor, a very simple shell script that lets me make a bunch of flat files with potential names. It’s very much a sketchpad, and not meant to be a definitive list, or a fully accurate one, or ever a complete one. It just lets me get some ideas out.

All three of the documentary sites now have cast sketches. Here they are:

I’m opening up these to the world much earlier than I normally would, because of several factors. First, I want to share as much of this approach I’m doing with three concurrent documentaries as much as possible – I don’t know if a single person has ever attempted this before. Second of all, with such a massive spectrum of potential subject matter, I want to invite people to mail me at with cast ideas. It would help me a lot if you added the word “CAST:” to the subject line of your message.

People have been writing in like crazy, and I’ve been adding folks as fast as I can, often to the detriment of details. Over the next few months, I expect all three cast lists to expand greatly in size. Not everyone will get interviewed, not everyone will even be contacted – but this is one of the ways I try to improve the production, by letting people tell me who I should interview before I start shooting, and not in the lobby of the theater.

Have fun brainstorming.












Categorised as: documentary

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  1. Mike Klamerus says:

    I’m just glad you’re going to Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum. That place has a lot of great older machinery and history lessons posted by each of the older machines.

  2. thx1138 says:

    If you have the availability, the 1984 Arcade in Springfield MO is definitely worth a visit:

  3. Egan Ford says:

    David Crane?

    He created Pitfall for the 2600. In the video above he talks about cycle counting 6502 instructions, all the tricks they had to use, etc…

    Wait a second. I think you’re in the video too. Making comments around the 42 min mark.