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Playing with Eli Sundler

Channel I presents a series of interviews and reviews of Web-TV-Series creator, Eli Sundler and his latest creation, an ode to games and gamers, Godlike Gaming.

“I have a lot of experience in performing on stage doing circus shows and fire shows,” smiles Eli Sundler, creator of the new web-series, Godlike Gaming; “I studied circus for a year in Norway and we had acting classes because we were telling stories through circus. Fire shows are something I have done for over ten years, but it’s a very different kind of acting than in movies. You very rarely act through words, but instead through body movement.” An intro like that you don’t often find.

Godlike Gaming concerns four 20-something gamers and their adventures. The comedy webseries about gaming, friendship and dreams centers around a competitive 5 vs 5 game that requires tactics, teamwork and high mechanical skills. It is inspired by shows like Video Game High School, The Guild and Spaced as well as Edgar Wright’s other projects.

The main protagonist, Sky, (Nicole Murray) is a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) player that dreams about being the best of the best, competing on the biggest stages and winning The World Championship in a big e-sport game. Her reality on the other hand is far from that. No money, terrible apartment, and she looks it. She and her team are living their normal geeky lives when they suddenly get into a local tournament, Battle of Legends. This would have been amazing if it wasn’t for the fact that one of their members dropped out. Not only will they have to find a new member, they also need to come together as a team and work with each other like never before if they are going to have a chance in their biggest shot of fame so far.

Eli is creator, writer, director, and one of the producers of this fast-paced series that both lampoons and pays tribute to the lucrative and OBSESSIVE world of professional gaming.

Part I: Getting into the game

What event in your life made you decide to work in film? 

I made up my mind that I was gonna work with film fairly late in my life and I don’t really have one event, but looking back at my life I can see that my whole life was leading up to this. As a kid I used to draw a lot and I wanted to be a comic book artist/writer. Telling stories, creating characters and worlds is just something I have always done. In my teens I started playing music. High Schools in Sweden are a bit different than they are here. You select a program that you want to study just like you do for college. I always thought I was going to study art, but when the time came I was more into music so I ended studying that instead and I did my thesis on storytelling through music. My question for it was how much of a story could come across with music alone. First year of high school was also when I started doing fire performance/circus which became my passion for the next ten years or so. There are times when I would perform something that just looks cool, but what always got me most excited was when it was well thought through and you’re conveying a story/emotion through the show. I started to film/edit videos for my fire duo. With no experience with film I was learning quickly and had so much fun. I started to realize that this is what I was meant to do and that this is probably something I always wanted to do (I used to love to see how film was made, when ever I picture my stories as kid I saw it as movies with clear shots and cuts), but my mind set had been “I don’t know how to do it so I can’t do it”. When I realized that the only way to learn how to do it is to start doing it, I became like a sponge and sucked up all the info I could about film making. My spare time was watching tutorials and testing things out. Even though it took me this long to get into movies I don’t regret it because like I said, I feel like everything was leading up to this and I think it has made me a better filmmaker. Art (and later photography) taught me about composition, framing, colors and values. Music told me about sound, emotion through music and what makes music powerful. Circus taught me about blocking, how to express story/emotion through “show don’t tell” (especially with your body) and storytelling in general. 

Why do you want to work here in the U.S.? 
The film industry in Sweden is much smaller than it is here and the movies that are produced in Sweden are not really the types of movies I am drawn to. I could probably count all the Swedish movies on one hand that really impacted me and that I love, but if I would do the same thing with films from the states the list would go on for a long time. Another thing that I absolutely love about the industry here is all different cultures. It feels like anytime I’m on set I meet people from new countries. I haven’t met as many people from different countries as I’ve done since I moved here in my entire life.

What obstacles have or (or are you) facing here? 

The biggest obstacle coming here is that I didn’t know anyone and even though I have met a lot of amazing people and gotten some of my best friends here it just can’t compare to having contacts from your entire life from all different parts of your life. Here I mostly have filmmaking friends and even when it comes to filmmaking that could be limiting. Back in Sweden I have friends who make costumes, armor, props etc for larps and renaissance fairs, I have tons of musician friends, project leaders, photographers and more. 

How is it different from working in your own country? 

In Sweden the only project I did I directed and as my full time job I was a circus teacher, but here I’m working on other sets as well and it has taught me so much. Seeing other people direct teaches you almost as much about directing as doing it yourself if you’re paying attention. The work I’m doing here is also in general a lot more professional.

Learn more about GODLIKE GAMING

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