Short Documentary: The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends

In the last couple of months I’ve had some down time while focusing on getting my next film, How to Build a Time Machine, up and running. I’d been itching to shoot something and with a fairly new camera (the Panasonic AF100) sitting on my shelf, I really wanted to log a few more hours shooting and become more familiar with my equipment before jumping into the next feature. So, I thought why not make a short documentary? With limited time and resources, I focused on a topic close to home…board gaming. My group of friends have recently started playing games like The Settlers of Catan and Pandemic, and this has resulted in some interesting ‘in game’ personality shifts. This short looks at the politics of competitive board gaming amongst friends, detailing one specific incident in which one friend (Reed Farrington) loses his cool, threatening the future of ‘game night’.

  • deadmic3

    Man, I’m embarrassed to admit but I can totally relate to this. I’ve been that guy before. Props to Reed for being so open and honest.

    Great cinematography, Jay. Made me hungry/thirsty.

  • anonymiss

    This is soooo good. I play catan with my friends and this is a must share with them. way to go jay

  • anonymiss

    what lenses did you use for this?

  • Jack Paper

    Ah, your films are always such a joy. Roman seems like he’d be the most fun to be play Catan with hahaha.

  • 35mm and 50mm Nikon, Panasonic 14mm Lumix lens.

  • rjdelight

    Goddamn Jay you’re the real deal. It’s only a matter of time before you take Hollywood by storm. Good job!

  • Steve

    That was a lot of fun. I would love to watch Greg and Gerry play Catan together. Well done Jay. Can’t wait for How To Build A Time Machine.

  • Adam

    This is going to sound like a stupid question to ask, but was there ever a time were Jerry hosted the board game party?

  • Henrik

    I can really lose my temper playing Smallworld. I think having a temper is a sign of being very intelligent. Thoughts, Gerry?

  • curtis talls

    Thanks to Filmjunk I am now an avid Catan player. Like the short too Jay, Reed is great as always.

  • Jack, ever since we called out Roman as a cheater, he rarely wins anymore. :-)

    I’ve hosted, Adam. What made you ask?

    Henrik, if losing your temper is a sign of intelligence, then I’m guessing that the Dalai Lama must be an idiot.

  • Sly

    Great visuals and sounds – and Reed rocks the show as usual.

  • Kasper

    Even though I haven’t played a board game in ages this was a lot of fun to watch. Your best short so far, Jay.

    How much time would you say you’ve put into making this, roughly?

  • csidle

    I’m digging the style of the title cards.

  • Falsk


  • I’ve never played the game but I found this to be very enjoyable. Gerry Reed is always an interesting character.

  • wow, not really in to the AF100…what made you go that way …better shooter setup than trickin out a 7D? (I know the price point between this and new 5D is closer) Im just not seeing the extra cash on the screen

  • ovenball

    That was cool as shit.

  • Justice

    Pandemic is my jam! Its so damn hard on the toughest difficulty though. Have yet to win on it.

  • Beautifully made, really. Great cinematography, Jay! Very expressive, and the Coke and chips look so good. :-)
    I liked all the little drama around Catan. Only played it a few times but this makes one want to play more, for sure.

    Oh, and Pandemic can be much more frustrating!!!

  • Liney

    Awesome stuff – recently got hold of Catan myself…hope it doesn’t lead to any ‘incidents’!

  • Zac

    I can’t wait for the Monopoly follow-up.

  • Adam

    Well Reed from being an avid listener to cantankerous I’ve heard that it is very difficult to get into your house because of your front door being barricaded with bookshelves and what not, just wondering if this is still true?. Jay, Was the shot with the coke pouring shot with a telephoto lens so to not get coke on it? and do you put UV filters on all your lenses to protect the surface of the lens?. By the way love the video it was very well composed and that camera looks great at picking up the colours of the board game.

  • Cy-Ed

    loved it

  • Alobar

    Liked it – had a cool vibe for sure. I kept expecting Stan and Ogre to barge in and flip the table over…

  • Dino Sachar

    1. Fuckin great short! So slick!
    2. Reed is a superstar
    3. When do you find the time to make these things between your daytime job, HTBATM, and the podcast!? Seriously, way to go Jay.
    4. Just a quick technical question. As far as I know, the AF100 doesn’t shoot anamorphic, so what’s your method? Do you add black tapes on the viewfinder and than crop it on post?

    Now it’s even harder to wait for your next film.

  • Kurt

    As a long time Settlers of Catan player, I applaud the awesome up-scale version of the gaming board in this video! We’ve burned through 2 ‘regular $50′ boards playing untold hours of this game and there is bonafide UNIVERSAL TRUTH to that incident which I believe happens in almost all gaming circles. BRAVO.

  • csidle

    I always assumed Jay’s daytime job was being a director. Is it not?

  • Kasper

    csidle: Since he quit Silicon Knights I’m pretty sure his job is directing feature films.

  • Gerry

    I felt about this the way Jay seemed to feel about most of the docs he reviewed on filmjunk this week, i.e. meh, whatever.

    It was no ‘Very Gerry Christmas’. I don’t say this to be mean but as someone who’d like to see Jay on an oscar shortlist one day. (And as someone who’d just watched Tabloid, which was awesome.)

    I’d hate for Jay to let all the praise on this forum to lull him, even to a tiny degree, into thinking that he just has to turn on a camera and a great doc will result.

    There’s a shit load of docs competing for attention each year and you have to have the bar so high to start with and then vault over it by a huge margin to gain attention in that flooded marketplace.

    Re universality the doc might as well have been about how drunk guys can get aggressive after the bars shut on Friday nights. Technically a lot of the face / skin shots looked alarmingly soft. I loved the music.

  • Maopheus

    I’ve been reading/listening to Film Junk for a long time, but I must have started after Reed was introduced so I probably the whole deal with why his name is Gerry but also Reed. Can someone explain?

  • mark

    I’m with Gerry here- i enjoyed the short, it looked great, sounded great, and i ultimately enjoyed it,but it was below the previous shorts. Not trying to be a dick, i think perhaps you have to play the game… but its a cool camera tester rather than great short film.
    Still, good work! (Just not as funny i guess.. sorry!)

  • deadmic3

    @Maopheus The way I understand it, Gerry is his real name and Reed is his online handle… Or maybe Reed Farrington is a character that Gerry invented and he’s got us all hoodwinked!

  • @Maopheus: Early in our careers, we found that people wouldn’t watch Jay’s films when they starred an Asian actor, so he invented “Reed Farrington” as my stage name, which fooled people into watching Jay’s films. Now he’s given me a new Asian name, because Asians are now being employed in commercials.

    @Adam: Yes, my dad has even said that my house has bad feng shui, because it’s so claustrophobic and cluttered with decoy objects that don’t function. I’m hoping someone will steal my fridge. :-) We play Catan in my kitchen when there are only four of us. If I got rid of my microfiche reader, there would be room for a fifth player.

    @Justice and Lior: We have played Pandemic. But there’s something about Catan.

  • BTW, I’m not the Gerry who posts comments on Film Junk.

  • Adam

    Another home run from the Jackal. This thing is tight man. You can bounce a quarter of it. I liked how he focused on the personalities and play styles of the men rather than getting too bogged down into gameplay footage. That’s where the real entertainment comes from.

  • “If I got rid of my microfiche reader, there would be room for a fifth player” – one more reason everyone will go to Reed’s house after the apocalypse

  • Adam

    @Reed I’m sure the feng shui in your house is fine. I need to ask did you play the Star Trek version of Catan yet? if so was it fun?. If you don’t now what i’m on about hears a link BTW this is not spam. :)

  • @Adam I’m aware of the Star Trek version, but no one I know, including me, has seen it in our area of Canada. Someone told me it is available in Europe right now. I will probably get it if I see it at a reduced price around here. BTW, the guys made me open my Star Trek Scrabble the other night just so that we could play “Speed Scrabble.” Also we tried playing Star Trek Fleet Captains one time, but it was too complicated for my friends.

  • Henrik

    Reed if I buy you a ticket will you travel here and play me 1on1 Kirk vs Picard?

  • @Henrik I would love to take advantage of your offer, but I’ve truly developed a fear of leaving my house. What is “1on1 Kirk vs Picard”? (I assume you would be Picard and I would be Kirk, although Jay said I am a Dick.)

  • Henrik

    I assumed you could play as them in Fleet Captains… I wasn’t suggesting some kinky cosplay fighting.

    Face your fears Reed. It’s too hard not to.

  • Adam

    I’m wandering Reed with all the time you have and your wishful desire of becoming an artist, Maybe you should create your own board game. Like with all the years you spent working at the gaming developer SK you must have picked up some ideas here and there. Like you could even create it as a group, and with the smart and creative friends other than yourself you have I’m sure you could whip up a fun board game in no time at all.

  • Adam

    *I’m wondering*

  • @Adam When I was a pre-teen, I and a friend created a lame board game heavily influenced by Monopoly. It was called “Travel (something).” We were the only people who played it. I still have it. I’m too lazy to dig it out, and find out what we called it.

    As an adult, I have no ideas for a board game or even a video game. If I think about it, Catan is even lame. To appeal to today’s youth, I think making a violent board game is a good idea. :-)

  • Adam

    I think you’re spot on with the idea of making board games violent to appeal to today’s youth, People today don’t appreciate the simplicity of a board game and how much fun they can be(as long as you play by the rules of course). But when they come out with holographic tables or boards where you can play Dejarik from star wars or even a 3D catan which can play with an age of empires sort of feel, Do you think they would still be classed as board games or do you think they’ll fall into the category of video games?

  • devolutionary

    Some excellent points, quirks, mannerisms, etc. brought up in that video. Although I’m not that proficient at Settlers of Catan (though I own it), I find it endlessly entertaining to participate in. I can definitely relate to the quirks and personalities that each player injects into the game. Similar things happen when I get together with friends to play chess or cribbage. It can turn into speed-games which almost defeats my desire to play sometimes.

    P.S: I really love how Jay will indulge in framing simple shots of pouring cola, or dispersing of chips. It somehow becomes very hypnotic.

  • Dicky Pancakes

    Amazing… will have to start a fan club / or perhaps a cult to worship the spectacle and focus of the myth and legend of Reed.