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Thursday, 12 April 2012

Caine's Arcade (2012)

Director: Nirvan Mullick
Star: Caine Monroy

After The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol, I thought it appropriate to add a unicorn chaser in the form of Caine's Arcade, a ten minute documentary short. After watching it, you'll feel better about life. After reading up on what it's achieved, you'll feel better still. The filmmaker is Nirvan Mullick, who only has three titles listed on his IMDb page: two short films from a decade ago and the remake of Willard, on which he apparently directed the title animation but wasn't credited. Until this week, his fame rested on a collaborative art project called The 1 Second Film, which combined one second of animation with an hour of credits, each of the 24 frames of animation being a painting nine feet by five painted by hundreds of people. He began it in 2001 while a student at the California Institute of the Arts but made the front page of YouTube in 2006 and raised $7,000 in four days. Looking back, he must see his 2006 achievement as amateur.

He stumbled onto this project by accident, while visiting an auto parts store to buy a door handle for his '96 Corolla. What he found inside the store was Caine's Arcade, imaginatively designed and built out of cardboard during a summer vacation by the owner's son, nine year old Caine Monroy. Unfortunately this back street gem was entirely unknown, given that Smart Parts Auto is stuck in an industrial zone in East LA without much in the way of walk in traffic. Even his school friends didn't believe him when Caine said he had an arcade of his own. And so Mullick became his first customer, buying a 500 turn fun pass for two bucks. Endeared by Caine's imagination and enthusiasm, Mullick decided to shoot a short documentary film about his arcade, with the subtext of making the boy's dreams come true. The power of the internet soon manifested itself into what Caine called 'the best day of my whole life.'

Actually it's become the best week of his whole life because what happens in the film is only the start and Mullick surely must expand this well constructed and heartstring-tugging ten minutes into a feature length documentary, because in many ways the story only began when the film ended. There's a website, of course, where you can watch the short online, embedded from Vimeo. On Monday, almost 2,000 people watched it. On Tuesday, it went viral and half a million others caught up. By today, it reached a million and a half views. Over 44,000 people have liked the Facebook page. Most importantly, Mullick set up the Caine's Arcade Scholarship Fund to help Caine afford to go to college and it reached its target of $100,000 in a mere three days. It's pretty obvious that there are a lot of people who have been touched by this story and want to see it progress. The only question is whether we can wait for the full length feature.

If you haven't seen this yet, you can find it at the Caine's Arcade website.

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