From Bedrooms to Billions: updates and extras

Features David Hayward May 4, 2013

David Hayward has an extra peek at what’s in store from the B2B team

If you recall we covered, last month, the exceptional story of the making of the documentary about the British computer games industry from 1979 to the present day, From Bedrooms to Billions. Well, there have been a few updates in recent weeks, which we think are well worth a mention.

Kickstarter

On February 25th Nicola and Anthony Caulfield launched a Kickstarter campaign (http://kck.st/V0U89j) to help raise the final £18,000 which will go towards securing archive footage, stills, music usage and enhancing the documentary movie. Less than six days later, they hit their target and with the remaining six weeks left until the end of the campaign (which finishes on the 26th April), they thought they’d have a go at reaching £100,000.

If they can reach the £100k stretch goal then the Bedrooms to Billions team have a very special free gift available for every backer of Kickstarter, and the original Indiegogo launch; an upgrade to a mega four and half hour, two disc Special Edition DVD and Blu-Ray box, with cover work drawn by the wonderful Oliver Frey. This is a unique addition to the already two hour long main documentary movie and contains extended interviews and a huge amount of extra footage with such legends as David Braben talking about Elite, Matthew Smith on Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy and Jeff Minter on sheep in space. There’s also extra coverage of Julian Rignall and Gary Penn on ZZap!64, and an extended look at the people who designed the games that helped shape the computing world we now live in.

Additionally, to help entice the public to dig a little deeper into their pockets, there’s the extra incentive of having your photo appear in the end credits of the film. As Anthony and Nicola explain, “The end credits are going to be fairly long and Rob Hubbard has composed a special piece of original music to cover this sequence, so we had the idea of using photos sent in by yourself sprinkled throughout the end credits.” However, they don’t just want any old photo, in keeping with the source material of the documentary; they would like an image of you doing something relevant, such as sitting at a computer, coding, or playing a game, so long as it’s in the best traditions of computing lore.

In order to get your mug shot on the end credits, all you need to do is pledge an increase of £50, then email your photo to the Bedrooms to Billions team, along with your name and any information about the image. If for some reason, your photo cannot be used, then the B2B team will offer you a swap, but there are limited spaces available, only two hundred, so if you want to get your image on the end credits, then you’d better get in there fairly quickly.

UKIE

The UK Interactive Entertainment Association (UKIE), who exist to champion the interests, needs and positive image of the video games and interactive entertainment industry, have recently announced that they are donating money for the production of Bedrooms to Billions. As UKIE chairman, Andy Payne, said “When Anthony and Nicola Caulfield approached me to help find some of the originals from the 80’s, it was the easiest decision of my professional life. Hooking them up with the likes of David Braben, Charles Cecil, Ian Livingstone, Gary Bracey, Nick Alexander, Rod Cousens, Andrew and Philip Oliver, Miles Jacobson, Fergus McGovern, Geoff Brown, Ste and John Pickford and many more was a real pleasure. It is great that Ukie have put their hand in their pocket to help fund the film and tell this story which will inspire the next generation of UK base game makers.”

But in addition to this, the B2B team, in conjunction with UKIE, will be providing a free version of the film to every secondary school in the UK next year, in the hope that it will act as an inspirational tool to help the next generation catch the gaming, coding and computer game design bug that made the days of the 8-bit such an amazing era. Plus, Bedrooms to Billions covers what is a worthwhile part of British industrial recent history and, as is revealed in the interviews, highlights the ups and downs of such a commercial success as the games industry. As Nicola Caulfield said recently, “We always hoped that these wonderful stories could inspire and act as a catalyst for children today, in watching the film they will learn that in the late 70’s and across the 1980’s and beyond the UK once experienced an incredible rise in creative talent and an industry was born from nothing more than enthusiasm, the availability of the home computer and a ‘I wonder if I can’ type attitude.”

The mug shot at the end credits and the extra footage aside, it’s the partnership with the UKIE and the free copy of the documentary to UK high schools that really sets the high standards of this production. This is an opportunity for the teens of today to see how their counterpart’s thirty-plus years ago managed to design, code and deliver an entire working game using, what is considered now, equipment that’s about as powerful as a calculator.

Just imagine, it would be quite a fascinating experience for high school students to watch B2B then to go into a classroom and have a try at creating with the likes of a Raspberry Pi, or a collection of retro computers provided by a local enthusiast.

In the cinemas

There will also be the opportunity to enjoy the Bedrooms to Billions documentary movie at a selection of cinemas throughout the county. With some special extras included, as Nicola Caulfield added, “We want people to understand that this is a movie and the first place for it to be seen is at the movie theatre. We’re planning for a theatrical run across the UK later in the year that will include special screenings within cinemas kitted out with computers, consoles and games from key eras shown in the film as well as some games industry legends as guests who after the screening can talk about their own experiences from their time in the industry. We are really excited with what we have planned!”

So not only will you get to watch the people who made the magic, you’ll get to show off your old gaming tricks by completing Manic Miner in under twenty minutes to an ensemble of like-minded enthusiasts.

And finally…

If that little lot wasn’t enough to whet your appetite for a slice of retro heaven, then consider the special soundtrack for the documentary movie, created by non-other than Rob Hubbard and Ben Daglish. Also, there’s a whole host of rare and much sought after retro games related memorabilia available, along with signed BBC Micro’s from David Braben, with signed copies of Elite, and signed ZX Spectrum’s from Matthew Smith.

All in all, From Bedrooms to Billions is going to be one of the amazing productions you’ll see this year, and with the added extras, it’s only going to get better. So why not pay their Kickstarter page a visit, and show your support, then we can all enjoy basking in nostalgic bliss.