Kevin Tostado is the producer and director of new documentary “Under the Boardwalk: The MONOPOLY Story”. The film focuses on the =history of the game and World Championship of Monopoly. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kevin about his new life, his love for Monopoly and what he has planned next.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your inspiration behind “Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story”?
Kevin Tostado: As a kid growing up, MONOPOLY was a game that always present in my house. It’s probably one of the first games that I played in which I had to handle cash as well as have to negotiate trades with my opponents. By the time I was 12, I could no longer get my family to play with me as they felt I took the game too seriously. It even got to the point where I was studying The Monopoly Companion written by Phil Orbanes, to try and prepare myself to be able to compete at the next US Monopoly Championship. “Under the Boardwalk: The MONOPOLY Story” arose out of my passion for the game of Monopoly as well as my desire to capture and create compelling stories to share with audiences.
MG: When was the first time you played the game Monopoly?
KT: It goes hand in hand with the first answer, but I can’t actually remember my first game as it was a game I just remember playing all the time. I imagine I started with Monopoly Jr, but think I was playing with the real game by 5 or so. It wasn’t until I was in my early teens that I started really learning all the strategies behind the game.
MG: Have you ever considered competing in the World Championship of Monopoly yourself?
KT: Most definitely! After I first read The Monopoly Companion, I started trying to train, but my family didn’t appreciate the game quite the way I did, so it was always difficult to find folks to play with. My senior year of college, I started training for the 2009 US Championship until I burnt out my suitemates on playing. I put my championship dreams on hold in order to make the film, but now since completing production, I’ve begun playing at local tournaments, and last April I won my first local tournament, beating several prominent players including Ken Koury and Lee Bayrd.
MG: How long did the project take to complete from concept to completion?
KT: I started initial research in Summer 2007 but you could argue that I started engrossing myself in the material when I was a teenager. We finished filming in early 2010, and was screening it at film festivals starting in September 2010. We then spent the next year playing at film festivals and running a limited theatrical release in a handful of cities around the country.
MG: What was the most challenging aspect of this documentary?
KT: It’s hard to narrow it down to just one challenging aspect. Obviously, getting one of the largest game companies in the planet to trust an unknown independent filmmaker with one of their prized games and allow us to film at the championships was a long road for us. Finding financing for a documentary about “a game that never ends” during a recession certainly wasn’t a cakewalk, and neither is negotiating complex world of international travel with film equipment and crew. But all of those struggles that we overcame gave us the motivation to see the project through and to get it out into the world for folks to enjoy.
MG: Tell us about bringing on Zachary Levi to narrate the film?
KT: We were able to attach Zac Levi to the project through our executive producer, Stephen Nemeth, who is one of the producers on this year’s Sundance hit The Surrogate. Steve has been a key player in Hollywood for the last 20 years (he produced Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas amongst many other notable films) and made the connection for us to get Zac!
MG: Tell us about what you have planned next?
KT: I’m helping produce a webseries called Research. starring Gabriel Diani and Barry Bostwick which we’ll be shooting in March and premiering online in the late Spring. You can learn more about that project at ResearchSeries.com. I’m also helping produce an 80’s rock star comedy called Todd Lucas: Singer/Songwriter which we are shooting in June, although we still have a big Kickstarter campaign coming for that in April to help us finance the film. Interested folks can follow me on Twitter (@Tostie) for the latest on my projects.