The world’s best gaming documentaries that we see in the gaming industry are not normally the ones with flashy special effects or big budget production. They are the ones that capture the essence of what the devotion to gaming is all about. The characters don’t make the game, the people that play the game do.  It’s not about becoming famous for these filmmakers, it’s about capturing those moments of profound passion and showcasing it to people whom can watch it as gamers and non-gamers.

At PAX East 2015, Jordan Levinson, Calvin Theobald, Matthew Krol, and Bobby Yan allowed audience members to vocalize their ideas for gaming documentaries and receive criticism, advice, and tips. It’s not everyday you have the opportunity to have experts challenge your vision to help cultivate the most of each penny and sweat you spend. Without going into critical detail to every question asked, here are some quick tips to making your film good enough for the public.

1. Audio is important

Find someone with a mic. Anyone. A film looks so much more professional with great audio even with the crappy looking video. If your video and audio is crappy, your film will be crappy. A great example is Levinson and Theobald’s film King of Chinatown. Keeping audio as the highest quality investment, really makes a film. We’ve seen time and again, indie films can cut costs on video production, but skimping out on audio can make or break a documentary.


Fixing and editing audio might seem like a hassle, but anyone can learn how to edit audio via sites like In addition, free software like Audacity allows for rich editing and fixing for noises, mistakes, and even pitches/tones. If it proves to be difficult, find someone who already has knowledge about audio, and passionate in helping making gaming documentaries.

2. Copyright Issues

Using big-name music can prove to be harmful and costly to a filmmaker. Most music is copyrighted which means you need to pay money to use it. Popular music will rake up prices of up to $25,000 to use in a film and can also have fine print where percentages of profit from box office tickets and duration of time allowed in the film are detailed. Again, if it proves to be difficult to do alone, reach out to people especially if they make music already.

Sound Cloud has a variety of underground musicians you can reach out to and ask to use their music in your film. Obviously giving the artists credit and linking back to their websites and social media. In addition, Jinglepunks is a music database with a growing number of amazing musicians that you can purchase for use. Most songs can be like the songs you want to use, but a lot cheaper to use. If you want to go to an even more indie route, use connects at festivals like Magfest where musicians, chiptunes artists, and DJs showcase their work at concerts, parties, and get-togethers.

3. Lawyer Up

If you can’t afford a lawyer, do heavy duty research. Every contract you come across needs to be read and understood because you can get screwed. Know a friend studying law? Get them in on it if they too love games.

4. Money On My Mind? Nope

Don’t think you’ll make a lot of money on your first film, just do it to do it. It’s important to note here that if you’re spending your life savings to make a film be smart about it. We all have visions, dreams, and passions but if not correctly strategized it fails to respect the important of its value. Simply, if it means that much to you to make it, don’t waste the idea by rushing it or not planning it our right.

Whether you’re spending $100 or $20k on a project, really work hard at making sure each penny is spent wisely. Know that even if 95% of the profit is not yours, your gaming documentary will still attract attention and prepare for your next project.

5. There’s No [ I ] in Team

You’re going to need a crew and help. Don’t think your going to do everything by yourself. Get crew from online and build relationships. You can offer credit, promise of food/help back, or work with talented individuals with similar or equal aspirations. It cut costs and builds network that’ll return the favor and expand your reach. Reach out to film schools students whom have to conduct film projects every year.

5. Publicity

So you made your film, now what? First mass email big gaming websites like IGN and Kotaku. Why? Because gaming documentaries rare. If major journalist outlets like your film, you’ll garner the audience that will appreciate your work. People need to go to see your film and the only way to do so is to spread the world correctly.

Journalists love to not only watch, but also support gaming projects, so creating documentaries on people gaming highlights the community they love being apart of. Capitalize on the fact that journalist’s jobs are to share information not seen anywhere else. Take into consideration that if a film can capture audience that aren’t gamers, it widens the amount of potential watchers.

6. Kickstarter

Very few success stories of funded campaigns are known, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. If your gaming documentary focuses on something unique and captivating, don’t let anyone tell you it’s stupid otherwise. Matthew Krol mentioned first hand the ups and downs to looking for funding for a film. This is why having at least one film out before a Kickstarter campaign can help build reputation so that funders feel their money isn’t going to be haphazardly spent. A lot of your stuff isn’t going to hit, but it will open doors that will move forward. As long as you make something that you’re proud of even though it doesn’t find a home you didn’t want, it is still important that you made it and it was out.


NarzNarz is a gamer whom writes about League of Legends, video game psychology, gaming events in NYC, and loves being a major Otaku. Currently studying CBT/positive psychology in independent research to one day become a Player behavior Specialist for eSports. She also loves curry and wine.  (/◕ヮ◕)/


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