Is there a Brookfield-centric feature-length documentary on Netflix or some other streaming service in the cards for the future? One local filmmaker thinks it’s possible, and he believes he’s hit upon just the right subject.
For about a year, Craig Bass has filmed more than two-dozen formal interviews and has compiled hundreds of pages of notes, immersing himself in the complex, many tentacled Galloping Ghost empire and its muse Doc Mack.
“I think that it’s a very inspiring story,” said Bass during an interview in his office at the video production company Motion Source on Fairview Avenue in downtown Brookfield. “He didn’t have the schooling, he didn’t have the connections, he created his own destiny. He now owns the largest arcade in the world, he’s doing the things he loves and he has done more than many, based on determination and passion. It’s hugely inspiring.”
The working title for the documentary is “Ghostlord and the Quest for Dark Presence” and tells Mack’s story from the time he conceived of “Dark Presence” as a teenager to the present.
According to Bass, the film will illustrate “Doc’s journey to create a live-action digitized fighting game, from the first hint of the game’s idea, through crooked investors, surprise iguanas, nearly assassinated landlords, and two reshoots. But the real question is: will it ever get finished?”
The “nearly assassinated landlords” reference is about Steve Campbell, the Riverside resident and Ogden Avenue property owner who took a young Doc Mack under his wing, providing him with space to shoot live action sequences and later offering multiple properties along Ogden Avenue to house the arcade and other Galloping Ghost ventures.
Campbell in 2012 was the target of a bizarre kidnapping/extortion plot that was foiled by the FBI, who arrested Campbell’s would be assailants after being tipped off by a confidential informant.
The 40-year-old Bass and business partner John Scaletta started their company about 15 years ago. Bass is the firm’s creative director.
“I’ve always wanted to make movies,” said Bass, who knew about Mack for years before approaching him about doing the documentary a little more than a year ago. After talking with Mack for about four hours inside his Galloping Ghost production studio office, Bass was convinced he had a great story to tell.
In Brookfield and beyond, Doc Mack is known as the man behind the world’s largest video game arcade, Galloping Ghost Arcade, a place that has received international notoriety. Its 890 – and growing — machines draw hordes of hardcore and casual arcade game enthusiasts alike to Ogden Avenue
But the Ghostlord – the moniker Mack has adopted and which defines his persona – did not set out to be a video game arcade baron. The entire Galloping Ghost empire – which now includes a print shop, pinball arcade, a fitness gym, auto shop and, most recently, a custom Godzilla model “monster workshop” – was created to underwrite Mack’s burning passion, an arcade game called “Dark Presence,” which Mack has been developing for nearly three decades.
“Everybody thinks about the arcade when they think about Doc Mack,” said Bass. “The arcade was an outgrowth of the game. … Building the arcade was like, ‘Man, we need a place to showcase this game we’re making and we need a way to fund development of the game. We need to keep this community thriving, because we love it and because we need homes for these games we’re developing.’
“No one really knows that. Everybody thinks of Doc Mack as the arcade guy. Doc Mack is the game designer. He’s the arcade guy, too, but at his core, he is the creator. … he wants to create the experiences for people that he wants to create.”
While Mack is not camera shy – he livestreams a weekly new video game reveal at the arcade and interacts with fans regularly through livestream video – he’s not a particularly high-profile character outside of that world.
But he’s also open, accessible and remarkably transparent, as anyone who has approached him for an interview can tell you. And he proved more than willing to let Bass into his life.
“It’s definitely been very different than what I was expecting,” said Mack in a phone interview with the Landmark. “[The documentary] encompasses so much. Initially it was about the game, but so much of the game is wrapped around every facet of my life. Telling all the stories about all of the people involved and how things happened opened my eyes to a lot of things. It was therapeutic. Talking about it brought so much clarity.”
Bass said he always thought of the documentary as a feature-length film, though he’s open to a multi-part series, if the opportunity presents itself. While he has self-funded the production to date, he’s now looking for investors to help put all of the pieces together and pitch it to distributors.
It will be another year or so before the film is finished, Bass said, but he’s already beginning to pull the story together after filming a few more key formal interviews – including with Mack himself.
“We need that support,” Bass said. “We’re just getting into that now and we’re just finishing up our budget, creating our business plan and we’re looking for people that want to help tell a very significant, very local Brookfield-centric story that I think is meaningful to a global audience, but it’s very significant for our own hometown here.”