On Friday, December 2 at 8pm on NBC, young actors Titus Makin, Jr. and Nathan Kress star in Game of Your Life, a two-hour family drama that recognizes the magnitude behind the choices people make and the importance loyalty plays in making these decisions.
When Industrious gamer Zach Taylor (Makin, Jr.) lands a prized scholarship to the prestigious Digital Institute for Game Design (DIGD), he sees his future break wide open. The opportunity to study under gaming legend Marcus Bentton (Tom Nowicki, “The Blind Side”) and alongside the country’s most creative minds could propel him into a successful career as a video game designer. As Game of Your Life evolves, Zach is teamed with socially awkward teammates Phillip (Kress) and Donald (Adam Cagley), and the trio persuades Sara Ramirez (Dana De La Garza) to join their team. Working off-campus in the high-tech Lincoln Alley loft, the four set out to involve the entire campus in a quirky new social interactive game.
Ahead of the December 2 premiere of Game of Your Life, The Deadbolt spent a few gaming minutes with both Titus Makin, Jr. and Nathan Kress to get the lowdown on how the movie goes beyond what we know of kids, their sense of ethics, and what they loved about shooting the video game themed movie.
THE DEADBOLT: Can you talk about how the film steps away from the traditional cliches of the smart kid profile in high school?
TITUS MAKIN JR.: I like it because it doesn’t necessarily put the “smart kid” in a box. This is who you have to be. It’s the personality you have to have, who you have to hang around. It’s really diverse as far as the friendships that are made in the film. It just shows the different background from all the “smart kids” and not everybody comes from a wealthy household that has been manicuring this brilliant child their entire life. It really comes from hard work and dedication and a lot of great things can really come from that.
NATHAN KRESS: Absolutely. And I think in our society gamers kind of have that cliche of being the nerds who just sit in their room with tape around their glasses and their pocket protectors and that’s all they want to do with their lives. But I think this movie definitely kind of breaks that at least for most of the characters. I would definitely say that my character, Phillip, and Donald, we have a lot of those socially inept nerdy qualities.
But a lot of the people in the movie are really, really cool. One of the characters is like a super cool billionaire classy guy, but he’s been gaming for most of his life and he’s kind of a videogame visionary. So it’s not all about that stereotype of the appearance and how gamers act. It makes them a lot cooler, which, as time goes on and there’s more E3 conferences and everything else, I think people are kind of realizing that gaming is becoming a much bigger thing over a much broader demographic and not just appealing to the nerds and the geeks, which I think is really cool.
MAKIN JR.: Just like anybody else who goes through tough times, it’s extremely difficult and you’re kind of learning as you go. You’re doing what feels right in your heart at that moment. But he definitely had to take the hard route and realize, just by the reaction of his friends and his family, that he wasn’t making the proper decision by kind of stabbing them in the back with going to work for the rich Marcus Benton who plays this fearless leader of the gaming school. Just making that selfish decision to go work for money rather than staying loyal to his friendship and the agreement between him and his team for the freshman project.
KRESS: The cool thing was that while he’s making all these decisions and they kind of did this on purpose, Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart, they wanted to have that family theme running through it. So a lot of the time, when Zach has made all these decisions and the consequences are becoming apparent, he goes back home and has a heart-to-heart with his dad, because his dad has been in that situation before and he has this wisdom and this experience that he wants to pass on to his son.
Between the interaction with his dad and the interaction with the teachers at the school, they’re the ones who also happen to make the right decision. So relying on adults who have been there and who have that experience also is also a major theme of the movie.
THE DEADBOLT: Nathan, did your technical side from iCarly help with the character?
KRESS: Yes, absolutely. There was a lot of terms that I had already known prior to getting into this. Unfortunately though there was definitely some differences between Freddie and Phillip. Freddie I guess he would be more of an aspiring director cinematographer whereas Phillip is more specifically in the videogame world. He’s the programmer of the group so he’s writing the code and the mechanics of the game that kind of create the backbone of how the game is actually played.
So they definitely have different specialties, but they’re both computer nerds. Yhey both had to sit around in front of their workstations and get their stuff done, which was actually really cool because all the stuff that you see, none of it is computer generated. It was actually programs that we were using, coding programs and 3-D graphic alteration programs and all that stuff. So what you see there, there were no green screens in this movie. It was of us actually doing things on the computer, which I thought was really cool.
MAKIN JR.: Everything, actually. It was such an amazing experience for me. It was my first time getting to work with such an amazing cast of mature artists because I’ve normally worked around my age group. That was awesome being able to work with Lea Thompson and so many, so many awesome artists. Also meeting such great stars like Nathan Kress himself and the guy who plays Donald. Adam Cagley and Dana De La Garza, they were awesome.<
It was just my first experience of being like on set with two amazing actors well-known in the industry and being able to just create this awesome relationship with them. So I was cherishing every moment and playing a character outside of myself, which is awesome because I’m not typically that quiet, educated computer nerd guy, but it was definitely fun embracing that for a month and a half or so.
KRESS: Yes, I agree with Titus. I definitely think the cast interaction was probably one of the best parts of this movie. Because when you watch the movie, a lot of people have asked us, “So, did you guys know each other for a long time before you did this movie?” But we actually met basically the day before we all got to Atlanta. I met Titus in the airport on the way to the shoot. Then I met Dana in the elevator of the hotel on the way down to one of our videogame training seminars. Then I met Adam about 30 seconds later in the van that was going to take us to that seminar.
So we all met each other right then. By the end of that first little couple days of preparation, I would say we were all pretty tight friends. Whenever we weren’t shooting, we were either going to the mall or hanging out on the roof of the hotel or doing whatever else, because so much of what we did in the movie was actually improvised and we were just kind of bouncing off of each other and using our rapport to keep that going. If we didn’t have that it would be a completely different movie. So I think that interaction definitely comes across on screen and it kind of makes for a cool authentic friendly interaction when you watch the movie.