That was it. I started, and there was no turning back. People were interested in the project and participating in my interviews. Even though sitting in front of a camera is nerve- wracking for some people, my process was really simple: I set up some lights, put a Sony PD-100a DVC camera on a tripod, sat next to it and asked each person aproximately five questions about laser tag. The most nervous people can pull themselves together and get out some very good sound bites, especially when they're talking about something they're passionate about.
I conducted 33 interviews in total and only messed one up; I'd like to apologize to Shannon (Munchkin) for messing up her interview. Though I thought I was getting good audio, when I got back I listened to it and found that there was a terrible hum on the tape and the voice was too low to use. Regardless, she is in the video and some of the coolest "laser" shots are of her at Darklight during Armageddon 2000.
Armageddon 2000 - what an awesome idea and an excellent opportunity for me! If you don't know what this tournament is yet, check out the web site at www.A20xx.com. It's billed as the most intense test of laser tag skill and endurance, and it didn't disappoint. Imagine playing on eight different laser tag systems over four days against some of the highest level competitors in all of laser tag. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. Though I originally planned to go in, observe for three days and then head home, it turns out I played on a team with some friends and had a blast. Before this I had only played Photon, Q-Zar, Darklight and some game at Mystery Fun House in Orlando, FL. You can really learn to appreciate other systems when you play with and against the most rabid people in laser tag. The results are still up on the web site for each year.
So I played, interviewed and shot B-Roll. (The simple explanation of B-Roll is any shots that aren't talking head/interview.) This was my first trip to Dallas, Texas for this project. Dallas is considered the birthplace of laser tag since it's where George Carter, III opened the first Photon facility in 1984 and started it all. Of course any program about laser tag should include some quotes from "The Creator." Well, that's what I had hoped, but in a pre-interview with a former Photon employee, I was turned off of the idea. He felt that Mr. Carter was no longer interested in the business, and I'd be wasting my time trying. More on this later.
Toward the end of that summer, my wife and I had a trip planned to Reykjavik, Iceland. A couple of weeks before the trip, I believe through the International Laser Tag Association's web site, I found Darklight Reykjavik. What luck! I sent them an email. No reply. I did some searching and found messages from people who played there. I sent those folks email. No replies. About a week before we left I finally called them and spoke to somebody who said he had gotten my email. He told me there was a fire on the field 2 weeks prior and the facility was closed. I did shoot an exterior and some great video of a glacier. I also found an article about the fire. In the phone book I found a listing for a Laser Extreme but when I called, it was also closed.
By the end of the year I was in touch with Bob Wood, at the time CEO of Zone Systems, Inc. They're located a short drive North in Dover, Delaware and are the North American distrubtor of Ultra Zone (and all its other names). He put me in touch with Erik Guthrie at the International Laser Tag Association. Erik was up there in February 2001, so I interviewed them together. Two more excellent perspectives on the industry!
©2002 Yo Vinny! Productions