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MAKING IT HUGE IN VIDEO GAMES

Memoirs of Composer Chance Thomas

Chapter 7 - Sneak Peek Excerpt

KING KONG 

By 2004, Peter Jackson was a household name. His Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was a triumph by any measure. With worldwide commercial success and critical acclaim, Jackson had carte blanche for whatever he wanted to do next. And what he wanted to do more than anything was to remake a classic that had captivated his imagination as a child – King Kong.  

I had been following this closely in the news. It wasn’t hard. Every entertainment website, trade magazine, and news outlet seemingly reported Jackson's every move. And while reading about his love for high frame rates and going barefoot was mildly entertaining, that wasn’t the kind of news that interested me. I needed to know who was making the King Kong video game. And I wanted to find out as early in the process as possible.  

By today’s standards, my Internet sleuthing skills were shockingly primitive. But what I lacked in know-how I made up for in volume. Article after article, day after day, searching for news, tidbits of information, anything that might lead to a publisher or game developer. So much to sort through.

Here’s a profile on actor Andy Serkis; there’s an interview with VFX supervisor Joe Letteri; here’s a description of WETA’s sound stages; there’s a story on Jack Black. Hundreds of articles and not one of them useful to my purpose.   

Until one day, a useful article suddenly appeared.   

In the second or third column of an obscure story about film financing, I spotted a photo of Peter Jackson with three Frenchmen. The photo caption listed their names – Jacques Exertier, Xavier Poix, and Michel Ancel. I immediately recognized Michel Ancel's name as the designer for Ubisoft’s highly lauded game, Beyond Good and Evil. This was exactly the kind of information I needed!

Researching each name through LinkedIn, I discovered that designer Michel Ancel and producer Xavier Poix both worked at Ubisoft’s Montpellier, France studio. If I'd been flush with cash, I might have immediately hopped on a plane to go pitch them in person. But as a poor young freelance composer, I had to find another way.   

Michel’s LinkedIn profile didn't list any contact info. But Xavier’s profile did include an email address. Cold call emails are notoriously ineffective, but what did I have to lose? I wrote Xavier and told him I’d seen the article. I suggested that if his studio was developing a King Kong video game, I would love to audition for the score. I complimented the great work they had done with Beyond Good and Evil, and briefly touched on some of my own relevant work. I closed with contact info and a link to my scoring reel.   

Click… send!