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$13,700
pledged of $50,000pledged of $50,000 goal
234
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sat, June 20 2015 3:00 PM UTC +00:00
$13,700
pledged of $50,000pledged of $50,000 goal
234
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sat, June 20 2015 3:00 PM UTC +00:00

About

Art by David Gwizdala
Art by David Gwizdala

What’s the Film About?

Hey everyone, Wolfe here, the project leader behind To Be the Very Best. To Be the Very Best is a feature-length documentary about the world’s most talented Pokemon players. These top competitors go beyond merely beating the Elite 4 and completing their Pokedexes by testing their skills against the best the world has to offer in official Pokemon tournaments.

I’ve teamed up with Dan Karlok (a 2-time Emmy award winning director) and Matt Weaver (the award winning producer behind Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Broadway's Rock of Ages) to bring you closer than ever to the personalities that make competitive Pokemon a story worth sharing. We will begin by taking an inside look at players from all corners of the globe and showing that they are more complex than the label of “gamer” would suggest –– that behind their screen names are real people who began their journeys by spending hours walking on virtual grass like any other kid growing up. Then comes the really exciting part, as our stars will clash at the most important event on the Pokemon calendar: the Pokemon Video Game World Championships. Here, their months of hard work will come to a climax as they go head to head to earn the right to be called the very best player on the planet.

With some help, my team and I will be there to capture every moment: from the roar of the crowd, the elation of victory, and the heartbreak of defeat to what draws us back to the event each year – the global community of close friends that would have never come to be without Pokemon.

Photo by Stephen Morioka
Photo by Stephen Morioka

The Story Behind the Film

The roots behind To Be the Very Best stretch back to when I gave up on the ridiculous task of capturing every Pokemon and started wondering what else the game had to offer. The answer was quite a lot. What captured my attention in particular was the official Pokemon Video Game Championship Series, where players from all walks of life come together to compete against fellow fans for a chance to win big prizes.

I was uneasy about treating the game I had grown up loving as anything more than a hobby, and was scared by the prospect of battling ultra-competitive players. Two U.S. National Championships and a second-place finish at Worlds later, I have been inspired to share what I found.

As expected, the competition was intense. After all, the battles are the culmination of months – years, even – of hard work: of creating and endlessly fine-tuning lineups, studying opponents, and thinking up unpredictable strategies. Unlike in the games most of us grew up playing, you can’t save right before a big battle and restart if you lose. Even a tiny mistake or miscalculation (like my misclick in the 2012 World Championship Finals #oops) can be the difference between winning and losing.

What surprised me was that the event was about more than just intense competition. Behind the high stakes and strained nerves of competing for the title of World Champion, there was an amazing and palpable sense of community and camaraderie. Indeed, it was difficult for me to see my fellow competitors as rivals because in interacting with them, they turned out to be normal people who happened to share a passion for Pokemon. As I went to more and more competitions, I began to form bonds with people all around the country and even the globe, which is an amazing opportunity most people are never given.

I therefore fell in love with Pokemon tournaments not only because they gave me the chance to test my skill, but also because they serve as a reunion between friends who wouldn’t know each other without Pokemon. It was this incredible blend of intense competition, close friendships, and lifelong memories that really inspired me to make this film.

Photo by Doug Morisoli
Photo by Doug Morisoli

What does the budget include?

Our main goal in making To Be the Very Best is to produce a high quality film that anyone can watch and that the entire Pokemon community can be proud of. As it turns out, this comes at a price, as we need advanced cameras, audio equipment, lighting/grip equipment, travel to Indianapolis and Boston, and post production editing.

With all that said, we really want this project to happen, so our base goal doesn't include expensive overseas travel and filming to interview international players in their home settings –– these will be part of our stretch goals. Though we would love to film them in their home countries to get a feel for how well the World Championships connect players from all corners of the globe, we will still feature them at the World Championships in Boston even if we don't reach our stretch goals. 

Photo by Markus Stadter
Photo by Markus Stadter

Why Kickstarter?

At its core, To Be the Very Best is a celebration of the global Pokemon community. It’s less about the technical and dense strategic aspects of the game, and more about following the dynamic characters, personalities, and relationships behind the game.

As such, we want To Be the Very Best to appeal to everyone, from the most casual to the most serious fan, and for our project to be fundamentally community oriented. We believe that for our film to really do a good job at sharing the personalities behind the Pokemon community, we need the help of fans like you every step of the way.

Kickstarter is therefore the perfect platform for our project, since it allows us to connect with fans from all over the world and celebrate just how powerful and passionate we can be together. Kickstarter will also us to reward you for joining us on our journey and bring you closer to the film with frequent updates and behind the scenes content (AKA annoying the cast by photographing absolutely everything). In this way you will be a part of the process from beginning to end. Hopefully, you'll be as excited about the film as we are!

Who is involved in the film?

While we’ll feature many more competitors from around the globe, here’s the team that brought you the promo video:

Wolfe Glick:

You guys already know a bit about me, but I’ll do a summary anyways! I’m the project leader behind To Be the Very Best. I’m also the two-time U.S. National Champion, and have finished in the top-10 at Worlds three of the past four years with my best finish as 2nd in 2012.

I’m currently a rising Sophomore at Virginia Tech, planning to study Business Information Technology and Computational Modelling and Data Analytics (whatever that means), and I’m really excited to bring our story to you!

Dan Karlok:

Dan Karlok is in charge of making all of the magic happen in front of your eyeballs and will be the director of the film. Dan is a two-time Emmy Award winner and a Grammy nominated director and cinematographer. His work includes directing and shooting feature films, documentaries, music videos and episodic television – including the acclaimed Law and Order series.

It’s safe to say that we’re in good hands here.

Ray Rizzo:

Ray Rizzo is one of the big shot Pokemon players we will be focusing on in the film. He also happens to be the three-time Pokemon World Champion, and one of the best Pokemon players of all time. He won Worlds in 2010, 2011, and 2012, and was the first American to go toe-to-toe with the mighty Japanese players.

Ray recently graduated from Drake University and has taken his talents to the very business-like field of actuarial science. He’s excited to help us shine light on the top Pokemon players.

Aaron Zheng:

Aaron Zheng is another player we are going to feature in To Be the Very Best. He’s going to be in charge of the social media on our project, so when you see us post anything on Facebook or Twitter, it's probably him!

Aaron was born and raised in New York City and is currently a senior at the Trinity School. He has won 3 Regional Championships, 2 National Championships, and finished 3rd at the 2013 World Championships. Pokemon is a family affair for Aaron, as he competes alongside his little brother Brendan, the 2013 Junior World Champion.

Aaron is quite an active member of the Pokemon community, and runs a Youtube channel where he posts videos helping others improve their skills. His channel has over 32,000 subscribers and over 3 million combined views (check it out here!). He is most excited by the prospect that our film will spark your interest in Pokemon and convince you to perhaps even try playing competitively.

Bob Okun:

Bob Okun will be serving as an advisor and producer for the film and is one of the most experienced and accomplished people involved in To Be the Very Best.

Bob graduated from Duke University with summa cum laude honors and a degree in economics. Bob is now CEO of The O Team, LLC, which develops a range of television, film, and book projects domestically and abroad, and is also CEO of ThanksUSA, a non-profit awarding college scholarships to military families. Before that, Bob was an executive at NBC Universal for 17 years, and worked in the legislative and executive branches of government for 14 years. 

We're Quite Excited
We're Quite Excited

Risks and challenges

Even with all of the amazing award-winning professional help and the enthusiastic support of Pokemon’s brightest starts, making a high-quality feature length documentary is not going to be easy. We will have to manage our budget extremely closely as there are a lot of expenses that can quickly get out of hand. Additionally, we’ll have to be very efficient at planning and scheduling filming of the top competitors, especially at the World Championships, and we’ll have to work closely with Pokemon organizers to make sure we stay out of their way while still giving you a front row seat for all the action.

Nevertheless, we feel that we are more than capable of overcoming these challenges because we have a smart, experienced, and enthusiastic team working really hard to make To Be the Very Best a reality.

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    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    VOTE FOR FORFEIT + ACCESS TO GOOGLE DOC

    As proof of my dedication to this project, I will make embarrassing and questionable life choices at the various milestones we reach throughout our campaign, and the best part is that they’ll be determined by your vote!

    Options, among others, will include getting slapped by a fish and eating hot chilli peppers, and the resulting footage will be uploaded to our Youtube channel for your viewing pleasure.

    You’ll also gain access to our Exclusive Planning Doc, where you can catch a behind the scenes look at the evolution of this project.

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    EXCLUSIVE BACKGROUND

    Spice up your digital device with our Exclusive Backer-only Background. It'll make you the envy of everyone at your school or place of business.

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    DIGITAL DOWNLOAD

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    Q&A + TWITTER SHOUTOUT

    Why do you need running shoes to run? What is the plural of platypus? Can I lick my elbow? Send me questions like these and others and you could be featured in a Q&A video about our campaign.

    We'll also tell the world how awesome you are (or share your own project) by giving you a personal shoutout on Twitter! If you're not on Twitter, we'd be happy to venture onto whichever social media site you prefer.

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    DIGITAL DOWNLOAD + NAME IN THE CREDITS

    Finally, a reason to sit through the credits!
    With this Limited Offer, not only will you receive a Digital Download of the film, but your name will appear in the Credits of To Be The Very Best! You'll quite literally be in the film!

    You'll also receive a question submission for the Q&A video, the Backer-Only Background, Access to the Planning Doc, and a Vote for your favorite Forfeit.

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    BACKER-ONLY MOVIE POSTER

    Explode with excitement as you feast your eyes on our Exclusive Movie Poster. With influences as diverse as Machiavelli and Sir Francis Bacon, this Limited Edition poster explores the universal human experience through its supple blend of mundane and transcendent textures and will leave you with a hymn to the subaqueous healing powers of graphic design (probably).

    You'll also receive the Digital Download, a question submission for the Q&A video, the Backer-Only Background, Access to the Planning Doc, and a Vote for your favorite Forfeit.

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    EXCLUSIVE T-SHIRT

    Celebrate your involvement in the project with our Backer-Only T-shirt! With a design unique to this kickstarter campaign, you won’t find it anywhere else.

    You’ll also receive the Digital Download, a question submission for the Q&A video, the Backer-Only Background, Access to the Planning Doc, and a Vote for your favorite Forfeit.

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    AWKWARD CALENDAR

    This exclusive Calendar, featuring your favorite competitors holding various domestic/household objects and looking generally uncomfortable, is far better than your existing cat calendar, and will be worth keeping for far longer than a year.
    They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case those words will probably all relate to shock, confusion, and perhaps just a little bit of intrigue.

    You’ll also receive the Digital Download, a question submission for the Q&A video, the Backer-Only Background, Access to the Planning Doc, and a Vote for your favorite Forfeit.

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    T SHIRT + NAME IN CREDITS

    Get two of our most popular rewards together with this limited offer! You'll receive both the exclusive backer only T-Shirt and your name in the credits of the film.

    You’ll also receive the Digital Download, a question submission for the Q&A video, the Backer-Only Background, Access to the Planning Doc, and a Vote for your favorite Forfeit.

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    PERSONALIZED VOICEMAIL

    Do you often feel bad about missing phone calls? We get it. Fortunately for you, we have just what will make it up to your friends and admirers: a personalized voicemail recorded by me, specially for your phone!

    I can sing, speak various language (English), and I have the uncanny talent to butcher any accent. With some luck, I might even mispronounce your name!

    You’ll also receive the Exclusive T-Shirt, Digital Download, a question submission for the Q&A video, the Backer-Only Background, Access to the Planning Doc, and a Vote for your favorite Forfeit.

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    SERENADE
    When asked what their biggest annoyance with daily life is, nine out of ten people in an unofficial poll cited the lack of competitive Pokemon players singing on demand. We are here to quench your thirst by personally serenading you –– pick any song, and I will make a recording just for you to be uploaded to the Youtube Channel.

    You’ll also receive the Exclusive T-Shirt, Digital Download, a question submission for the Q&A video, the Backer-Only Background, Access to the Planning Doc, and a Vote for your favorite Forfeit.

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    DIRECTORS CUT

    Take an inside look at the making of To Be the Very Best. In this special Director’s Cut of the film, you will hear our team commenting over the film and sharing exclusive stories and tidbits about how we made this project a reality that you won’t hear anywhere else. It’ll be as if we’re there watching it with you!

    You’ll also receive the Exclusive T-Shirt, Digital Download, a question submission for the Q&A video, the Backer-Only Background, Access to the Planning Doc, and a Vote for your favorite Forfeit.

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    APPEAR IN THE FILM

    Appear in a film directed by an Emmy winning director and hang out with some of the best Pokemon players on the planet! If you come to Boston between August 21st and August 23rd for the Pokemon World Championships, we'll feature you in the film as an extra so you can see us in action and have a really cool go-to fun fact.

    You’ll also receive the Exclusive T-Shirt and Movie Poster, Digital Download, a question submission for the Q&A video, the Backer-Only Background, Access to the Planning Doc, and a Vote for your favorite Forfeit.

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    BE ON WOLFE’S OFFICIAL POKEMON TEAM

    Immortalize yourself in the Pokemon World Championships by being a member of my official competition team this summer! I’ll nickname a Pokemon on my team after you –– or after anything else you want –– and who knows, your namesake might just be one to take the last KO and win me a match.

    You’ll also receive the Exclusive T-Shirt and Movie Poster, Digital Download, a question submission for the Q&A video, the Backer-Only Background, Access to the Planning Doc, and a Vote for your favorite Forfeit.

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    SIGNED PROP

    You'll receive an actual prop appearing in the final version of the film, which will be signed by the cast of To Be the Very Best. That’s right, a piece of the film will forever be yours to “accidentally” place on the coffee table before watching the film with your friends.

    You’ll also receive the Exclusive T-Shirt and Movie Poster, Digital Download, a question submission for the Q&A video, the Backer-Only Background, Access to the Planning Doc, and a Vote for your favorite Forfeit.

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    BE AN ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

    We'll credit you as an Associate Producer at the end of the film! You’ll also be listed as an Associate Producer of To Be the Very Best on IMDb.com

    You’ll also receive the Exclusive T-Shirt and Movie Poster, the Exclusive T-Shirt, Digital Download, a question submission for the Q&A video, the Backer-Only Background, Access to the Planning Doc, and a Vote for your favorite Forfeit.

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    DINNER WITH PRODUCERS IN NYC

    Be our personal guest of honor and have a meal with Dan Karlok, Wolfe Glick, and other cast and team members for an evening in New York City. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is our way of thanking you for joining our team.

    You’ll also receive everything from the lower levels as an expression of our enormous gratitude for your contribution.

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Funding period

- (30 days)