One of the truly amazing things about being in New York City this time of year is having the chance to catch some great films and documentaries at the world-famous Tribeca Film Festival.  This year I was on hand representing The Shadow League. Unlike in year’s past, I made a concerted effort not to simply go see a film because it had a Black star or a Black cast. I was more interested in seeing the world through the eyes of an individual who I had very little in common with on the surface. To that end, I attended the world premiere of All Work All Play early this week.   

Directed by Patrick Creadon, All Work All Play sheds a blinding light on the increasingly popular world of e-sports-where gamers, promoters and sponsors are attempting video games a spectator sport cable filling modest size stadiums against seemingly insurmountable odds. The games of choice are League of Legends and Star Craft II, both multiplayer games in which live team play is possible.

“A group came to us about a year ago and said there’s this tournament, it’s called the Intel Extreme Masters and would you be interested in telling the story about this tournament,” said Creadon. “I didn’t know anything about it and I went to one of their tournaments and I said this is fascinating. From the very beginning, I saw something that was filled with a lot of passion, a lot of warmth, and just a really great human story.  What I found interesting is that this perception of people who play video games a lot was different that I was seeing with my own eyes. So, that was really interesting. I thought it was a really cool story. It was similar to a lot of work that we had done in the past. Similar kind of storyline. So, it felt like a really good fit for us.”

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A film is a tapestry of images woven together for a desired effect. For All Work All Play the intended goal appears to be to herald the legitimacy of e-sports as a viable entity. To that end, the film opens with black-and-white reels from some of America’s most popular professional sports leagues when they were in their infancy.

“We’ve always felt, my wife (Christine O'Malley) and I are a filmmaking team together, we you make a documentary film, you are really creating a bridge between the story and your audience,” he explained. “And, the bridge that we had to build for this particular story was a really big bridge, a really intricate bridge. Because the world of E-sports is very foreign to most people outside of that forum. In a way, we were looking for analogies and metaphors that might help an audience. When we saw all these archival footage, and you know how those stories end, and we all know how those stories ended."  

"One of the things we’ve touched upon is how other individuals have tried to build up e-sports, especially in North America, and they have failed. And, I think the reason they failed is because they saw e-sports as a well to make money. The people that we saw were motivated, more than anything, by a love for these video games. That’s why I really think e-sports are here to stay. The people that are into are not doing it to make a lot of money. The reason we call the movie All Work All Play is the people who are in this industry love to play games, but it’s a ton of work. Whether you’re a player or you organize the tournaments, or you’re one of the sponsors, there’s a lot of commitment.”

In the film, currently an unfinished product, the viewer is told that teams from the United States have been getting their butts handed to them by teams across the globe for quite some time. However, teams from South Korea have been especially hard to best.

“I think that there’s a real culture in Korea. The e-sports culture there has been around for a long time. That’s why you see so many champions coming out of Korea. Also, I feel like the Europeans caught on to this before anybody else in this film. However, as you see in the film, North America is catching up. It was great to see a North American team win it on the world stage.”

“Unlike soccer, where we had to wait a whole generation, we’re already there.  So, it’s funny, because we weren’t really following (eventual world champion) ESM during the making the film and they ended up winning. So, we’re going back and incorporating them throughout the film because we don’t want them to be strangers at the end of the movie.  We’re trying to incorporate them more and trying to shape the film around what happened in the tournament. We’re trying to get around that now and at what happened in the tournament.” 

All Work All Play is in the final stages of editing and is schedule for an international release this summer. For more information log on to www.esportsincinema.com