From Bedrooms to Billions is a 120 minute feature length documentary movie telling the remarkable, true story of the British Video Games Industry between 1979 – 1996.
From Bedrooms to Billions tells the story of how the creativity and vision of a relatively small number of individuals allowed the UK to play a key, pioneering role in the shaping of the billion dollar video games industry, which today dominates the modern world’s entertainment landscape.
Developments in computer technology in the UK of the late 70’s early 80’s helped inspire a generation of small team enthusiasts, hobbyists, school kids, bedroom coders and entrepreneurs to make and release some truly classic games. From Bedrooms to Billions reveals some of the remarkable stories, struggles and successes that saw the UK video games industry go from quite literally nothing into a major force littered with original thinkers, innovators and eccentric characters.
Featuring interviews with key contributors to the UK story from across video game development, publishing and journalism from over the last 40 years, combined with compelling archive, ‘From Bedrooms to Billions’ is the first to attempt to bring this amazing story together. Starting in the late 70's, spanning 'Thatcher's Britain' of the 80's and culminating in the dramatic shift of fortunes for the UK Video Games Industry by the late 90's, the film celebrates the importance of this era and why it has become such a landmark period in the history of British invention, creativity and industry.
THE PRODUCTION STORY
From Bedrooms to Billions initially began about 10 years ago as an idea for a 3 part TV series. It seemed like such a remarkable era in the UK’s history that it needed documenting. The show was to be filled with captivating stories of creativity and inspiration told by some wonderful and eccentric characters balanced with the amazing games that were produced at the time.
However UK Broadcasters over the years never showed enough real interest to commission it, saying that video gaming far was too niche. There seemed a distinct lack of understanding, perception or even perhaps acceptance by the establishment of the UK when confronted with the subject of video games. It cannot be understated the pioneering impact the UK had on what is now the largest entertainment business on the planet, yet when many other documentaries on UK contributions to entertainment, art and industry on subjects such as music, film and literature are commissioned continuously by broadcasters, there’s never a place for video games.
After a little bit of research it became apparent that many levels of UK establishment such as banking, broadcast and even teaching do not take video gaming seriously as an industry, in some cases even deemed responsible for the worlds’ woes. All of this despite video games being a viable and creative industry capable of bringing in vast amounts of revenue into any country that encouraged it . Anthony and Nicola then discovered the Nesta Report by Ian Livingstone CBE (link) which among many things highlighted the very serious problem with the way IT is being taught in UK schools, the seed of interest for computing is not being sown in youngsters as it did in the past, which has led to a significant drop in IT graduates. Research showed that most students in the UK didn’t even know that the country once had a thriving, pioneering video games industry.
This new information brought the story very much into the present, providing an extra angle for the documentary. By highlighting where the UK Games Industry is today combined with what it once achieved during its golden era, may in some small way inspire a new wave of UK talent.
Anthony and Nicola decided that this ‘TV series idea’ needed to become a fully-fledged independent documentary movie, a British film with its own style, look, sound and character and ‘From Bedrooms to Billions’ was born. It was at this time that they became aware of crowdfunding and the decision was taken to see if the vast retro video game community would believe in the project enough to fund at least enough to get the principle photography completed. Anthony and Nicola launched the film campaign onto crowdfunding site Indiegogo (link) in May 2012 seeking £20,000 in exchange for many perks graciously donated or signed by some of their interviewees. By the time the two month campaign was over not only had they successfully hit their target, but out of thousands of films, Indiegogo placed ‘From Bedrooms to Billions’ in their top 10 films of the year (link), the only non-US film to achieve this.
Anthony and Nicola have been filming almost continuously throughout 2012 and are very close to completing principle photography in early 2013. However as is common with many films financed via crowdfunding, money is now needed to enhance the film, to secure archive footage, stills, music usage and clearances so have launched a second campaign (link to Kickstarter campaign). Without these crucial elements the film would simply be two hours of talking heads and not the true and lasting documentary, movie experience with wonderful new interviews combined with the classic UK archive and music that the subject matter deserves.
Click here to visit the ‘From Bedrooms to Billions’ Kickstarter campaign to, view more of the film, learn more on why the funding is needed and also how to claim some truly wonderful UK Video Gaming perks.