Documentary to chronicle journey to collect every NES title in 30 days

“The NES Club” may soon become the most ambitious retro game collecting project ever.

According to the Kickstarter page, short film director Rob McCallum and his film crew will follow retro collector and gamer Jay Bartlett into the wild as he attempts to collect over 700 Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games in 30 days.

The goal is set at $15,000 by June 21 of this year. The money collected through Kickstarter will help fund the video production side of “The NES Club,” as all the money spent collecting games will come out of Bartlett’s pocket.

The young collector will visit game stores, flea markets, thrift stores and pawn shops to cross off every retail NES game on the list, including titles like Flintstones: The Surprise at Dinosaur Peak and Little Samson which have been known to fetch up to $1,000 in the right condition. All games must be purchased in-person without the assistance of eBay.

“The NES Club” will be made in a time when television programs like the History channel’s “American Pickers” grow in popularity. McCallum’s film will likely follow a similar structure.

“The NES Club” is more than a documented game hunt. The film crew behind “The NES Club” plan to explore not only the history of the most influential video game console ever created but also its massive cultural impact.

When the creators of “The NES Club” aren’t out hunting for rare games, they’ll talk to other retro gamers about their opinions on the 8-bit console.

“There will be plenty of fanboy discussion too as Jay, Mike and others determine the best Mario game, the best Nintendo franchise, if games are the same today as they were 20 years ago, and generally what made the NES the most memorable system and more,” according to the Kickstarter page.

The film makers have already run into a few obstacles. Many have taken to online forums to prematurely accuse McCallum and Bartlett of planting games, to which the guys posted a video response. With any project like this, criticism is inevitable, so the staff behind “The NES Club” try their best to address these problems as early as possible.

McCallum has also continued to reach out to big names in the gaming community, particularly those who claim to have complete NES collections, for advice and participation in the making of the film. These collectors are notoriously private about their collections and often don’t actively look for attention, which may negatively affect the production of the film.

Still, McCallum describes the unpredictability of the hunt as the biggest obstacle he expects from the creation of the film. To put that “over 700” number into perspective, Bartlett must find 24 games per day. Most collectors who have complete NES collections haven taken years to complete their collection.

Nevertheless, Bartlett remains hopeful that the feat is not only possible, but worth attempting on camera.

If Kickstarter can help these film-makers gather $15,000 by June 21, Nintendo fans may soon be able to watch to see if Bartlett can scratch 709 NES titles off the list and join the exclusive “NES Club.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: My Vinyl Muse has no affiliation with “The NES Club.” This article should not be confused as an endorsement of this project. This article was republished with nonexclusive publishing rights on Yahoo! Voices with the consent of the author. 


Video interviews with Rob McCallum and Jay Bartlett

McCallum and Bartlett were kind enough to answer a series of my questions via YouTube about “The NES Club” and post them as updates on the film’s Kickstarter page.

The final video interview was an hour long. So they decided to parcel the questions out into a series of shorter 10 to 15-minute videos, answering five questions per video.

Because of the distance between McCallum and Bartlett, they decided to record the conversation on Skype. They alternated between answering questions without preparing answers beforehand.


Interview #1

In the first My Vinyl Muse interview with McCallum and Bartlett, we went over some of the basics. Camera equipment, collecting strategy and past experience are discussed.

But don’t fret! The guys make sure they don’t give away too much of what you’ll see in the final film:

1. How many people will be a part of the filming crew? What will be their roles?

2. Tell me a little bit about the video equipment you plan to utilize.

3. How has your experience in short film better equipped you to make “The NES Club”?

4. Tell us a little bit about your strategy. Through this 30-day quest, what will be the first thing you do when you guys wake up?

5. How much time will you commit to going out and finding games? And how much time will you set aside for filming talking heads and fanboy discussions?


Interview #2

In the second part of our interview, the guys go more in depth about their collecting strategy.

For many game collectors, much of their strategy might be familiar. But some of it will surprise you:

6. Do you plan to map out a schedule of what stores you will make stops at on your journey or will it be more spontaneous?

7. What are your standards when you’re crossing off games from the list? Do they have to meet certain requirements in terms of condition?=

8. You’re looking to find 24 games per day with at least one of them being rare titles. Is that a common or realistic number of pick-ups from an average day of game-hunting for you?

9. There are a lot of sellers who have unrealistic ideas of how much their games are worth. What will happen when you run into a common title from someone who wants an unreasonable amount of money for it but you’re not sure if you’ll see it again within that 30-day window?

10. You won’t be buying games online. But will you utilize sites like Craig’s List to find these titles?


Interview #3:

11. You have reached out to others who have collected the entire NES library. What kind of advice have you gotten about how to approach this feat?

12. As you’ve probably already discovered, a lot of the biggest retro collectors don’t like attention. Why do you think that is and how might this affect the film?

13. I gotta ask. Which do you prefer: original NES or Top-loader console?

14. Jay already owns most of the games that he will be hunting. What do you plan to do with the games after the film is complete?

15. For those who are passionate about retro-collecting, it’s easy to understand why you want to make to make this film. How do you explain why you’re making “The NES Club” to those who aren’t passionate about retro games?


Interview #4:

16. If you couldn’t call this film “The NES Club,” what else would you consider naming it?

17. Now more than ever, gamers are going back to the classics. What do you think that says about the current video game industry?

18. In or after post-production, will you try to reach out with any big film distributors to get “The NES Club” on the big screen or on major retail shelves?

19. J.J. Abrams said: “[Video equipment and software] is now democratized. So now the creation of media is everywhere. The stuff that I was lucky and begging for to get when I was a kid is now ubiquitous.” What advice would you give to those who want to make a film but don’t know where to begin?

20. Once “The NES Club” is complete, would you consider making “The Super Nintendo Club” somewhere down the road? How about the Sega Genesis Club or the Atari 2600 Club?

21. My final question: when can we expect to see this film?