Ed Cunningham Directing ‘Arcades & Love Songs: The Ballad Of Walter Day,’ Follow-Up To Cult Classic Slamdance Doc ‘The King Of Kong’

EXCLUSIVE: Nearly two decades after producing The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a video game documentary that’s emerged as a cult classic since its unveiling at the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival, Ed Cunningham has wrapped production on Arcades & Love Songs: The Ballad Of Walter Day, a follow-up film picking up with his documentary subject, known as the father of Esports.

Directed by Seth Gordon, The King of Kong offered a look into the world of competitive arcade gaming with a focus on the quest for the high score in the classic arcade game Donkey Kong. The specific focus of the film is the intense rivalry between two gamers: the reigning champion, restaurateur Billy Mitchell, and underdog challenger, Steve Wiebe. As Wiebe relentlessly pursues the Donkey Kong high score, he faces obstacles and skepticism from the gaming community, particularly from Mitchell and the organization Twin Galaxies, which oversees video game records. As the documentary unfolds, it reveals the lengths to which these competitors will go to achieve gaming glory.

The founder of Twin Galaxies, which in 1983 was established as the official supplier of verified video game scores to Guinness World Records, Cunningham is introduced in The King of Kong as ‘the world’s video game referee,’ the authority hovering over the competition between Mitchell and Wiebe. A date-night, musical documentary, Arcades & Love Songs finds him battling a lawsuit that threatens his legacy at the age of 74, while fulfilling his dream of recording and performing the rock-opera style love songs he has been hearing in his head for much of his life.

The documentary follow-up was presaged by a scene in The King of Kong in which Day reveals that he had his heartbroken in the mid-’80s, during the golden age of arcades, and began hearing “big rock, love songs” in his head almost immediately thereafter. In the scene, he laments his position as a scorekeeper open to ridicule and that he really wants wants to be “some crazy artist, up there singing my songs.”

Following The King of Kong‘s release, Day for a long time continued being very active in the video game community, as his musical dreams sat dormant. His status quo was shaken up by a confluence of events beginning in 2017, including accusations of cheating during gameplay against The King of Kong‘s Mitchell, which resulted in multiple lawsuits. Day was sued for fraud, facing allegations that he verified fake scores to make Mitchell a score, thereby increasing the value and visibility of his own high score database. During the same period, fans of the doc met Day at a video game convention, and after asking about the musical dreams he had shared, they ended up financing the production of his first album at one of the best studios in the Midwest.

Produced by Jon Perkins, Gordon, and Cunningham, Arcades & Love Songs‘ EPs are Scott Jackson, Kerry & Cathy Loveland, Paul Campoamor, and Harrison Kordestani. Pic is eyeing a festival run starting in early April.

Previously producing the Academy Award-winning football doc Undefeated, Cunningham also was behind the web series H*Commerce: The Business of Hacking You, which won three Effie awards for effective advertising. A former NFL player for the Cardinals and Seahawks, Cunningham has also spent 30 years as a radio host, television reporter and commentator, having started his network career at CBS before moving to ESPN and ABC. He is represented by Settebello Entertainment and attorney Zeke Lopez.


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