Max Reload and The Nether Blasters ….finally, a gaming film, made by gamers for gamers, that by all industry standards should never have been possible.
Painstakingly produced over two and a half years, this mixed media gaming, action-adventure, sci-fi comedy was written, produced and co-directed by Scott Conditt and Jeremy Tremp with the blessing of legendary retro-gaming brand, ColecoVision.
The creative duo who had previously produced the gaming-centric documentary Game Jam: The Movie (2018, DeVolver Media) and the 2017 arcade short film Show No Mercy (starring Cobra Kai’s Martin Kove and Jesse Kove), set out to produce a film completely independent of Hollywood, and you might say in a way, they gamed the studio system…
The plot of Max Reload and The Nether Blasters follows a small town video game store clerk, Max Jenkins, who must go from zero to hero after accidentally unleashing the forces of evil from a cursed Colecovision game… Gaming fantasies collide with reality when a legendary “lost” instalment of the Nether Game series appears on the store counter of his workplace, Fallout Games.
Unbeknownst to Max, the game bears a “Curse of The Ages”, and in playing it, he unlocks the Nether, an ancient malevolent force of evil from the cartridge. Along with a mysterious masked man and his two best friends, Liz and Reggie, Max must figure out how to beat the Nether at its own game before it’s game over for humanity.
Having a strong creative team and no desire for sweaty, out-of-touch suits cramming bad ideas down their throats at every turn, the pair raised all of the money necessary to make the film themselves through a small network of private investors who supported their vision. The result is charmingly raw, ridiculous and retro…but still manages to achieve “studio-quality” production value where it counts, and attains a rare untainted artistic vision on screen.
As the Directors note, “It’s like the indy films we grew up loving, it doesn’t take it self too seriously, there’s no political bullshit, no pandering, it isn’t overly polished and plastic. Of course it isn’t perfect, as an artist you always want to do more – but it is the film we wanted to make and we knew it would never be possible if we’d had done it any other way. It’s us.”
The 100 minute long love letter to gaming, both retro and contemporary, is a projection of their passion for gaming and gaming culture through childhood growing up playing in arcades and on their 8-bit systems at home, all the way through to today, as both creatives actively game and create content for the gaming space. In spite of it’s completely independent nature, the script and the energy for the project attracted impressive Hollywood talent on screen.
Greg Grunberg (Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker and Heroes) was among the first to not only join the cast, but as a rabid arcade cabinet collector and fan of gaming himself, joined on as a Producer as well, helping further introduce the project to what would become the films impressive cast.
Jay and Silent Bob and Comic Book Men’s Kevin Smith stars alongside Tom Plumley (Upright Citizen’s Brigade alum), Hassie Harrison (Tacoma FD and Yellowstone), Joey Morgan (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse), Lukas Gage (Euphoria), Joseph D. Reitman (Happy), Charlie Talbert (The Big Short), and Jesse Kove (D-Day and Cobra Kai). Hilarious supporting roles are delivered by Lin Shaye (Insidious), Martin Kove (Cobra Kai) and Charlie Talbert (Angus) to round out the cast while geek-god Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Theory) provides voice over narration for one of the films 1980’s flashback segments.
Max Reload really packs the pixel-love in, and diehard gamers and fans will appreciate thoughtful elements that add to the retro aesthetic, like pixel-art “cut scene” transitions, retro “Saturday morning cartoon” style animated flashbacks, old-school gaming cartridge designs, and characters for the animated sequences that were produced by prominent real-life gaming artists and developers.
To help save costs on wardrobe, production design and sets, Conditt and Tremp reached out and presented their vision to over 20 gaming brands like JiNX, Metathreads, HyperX, Vertagear, and more who all jumped on board and provided products and props to help realize the film.
There is even an arsenal of custom configured and heavily modified lightblaster guns and gaming peripherals that serve as our heroes weapons of choice to fight the evil Nether Spectres throughout the film.
Shot over the course of 23 nights in 2018, the film ended up including over 550 visual effects shots, an insane feat for a studio film let alone an independent, many of which were stylized to harken back to the 1980’s era of vfx production. Released in late 2020 in the USA and Canada through MVD Entertainment on both physical Collectors Edition BluRay and DVD as well as streaming services, Max Reload and The Nether Blasters inked a worldwide deal with Bleiberg Entertainment to coordinate global release of the picture, which is now primed to spread worldwide in Spring/Summer of 2021.
In anticipation of the worldwide release, Max Reload Star and Producer Greg Grunberg noted, “I could not be more excited to share the Max Reload love with the entire world. Just like how quickly the ‘Nether’ spreads in the movie through the cursed game cartridge and people become hooked on it, we hope the world and especially the gaming community across all decades reacts just as favorably and have as much fun watching it as we had making it for them.”
Max Reload is available on all major streaming platforms in the USA and Canada and is coming to viewing services and physical media worldwide in Spring/Summer of 2021. Visit www.maxreloadmovie.com for more information and detailed production diaries, behind the scenes and more!
This article has been sponsored.