Upcoming short film produced by OSU alumni will feature esports gaming


H. Beck, Illustrator

This illustrration depicts an injured MMA fighter who turns to esports in an upcoming film by eConnXn. The short film, called ‘Game Face,’ was produced by Oregon State Univeristy alumni Mark Stockhoff.

Reid Morrison, News Contributor

‘Game Face,’ a short film created by Oregon State University alumni Mark Stockhoff, will bring attention to esports, or professional video gaming, with its release on Nov. 6.

The short film, which Stockhoff intends to turn into a feature-length film after its release, will premiere on the eConnxn website at 2 p.m.

“Esports is my life, it’s my dream, it’s my passion,” Stockhoff said. “It’s my niche.”

Stockhoff has been intimately involved with games since before his introduction into film. He set standards for what players today would understand as norms when pursuing a professional gaming career. Along with the gaming he does himself, he regularly trains players of all ages. 

Stockhoff said he started working in film during his second year at OSU.

“I produced My Lumiere with John Schultz and Austin Hodon and we won the seat of campus movie fest,” Stockhoff said. “At a premiere one night at John’s house, I asked John, ‘What’s your dream?’”

According to Stockhoff, Schultz said he wanted to make video games and esport trailers for video games, so Stockhoff joined his colleague and their work soon unfolded on their Youtube channel, which funded Stockhoff through college. 

“I think the media is doing a terrible job at filming [esports],” Stockhoff said. “There’s nothing out there.” 

Today, Stockhoff said people often rely on classic sports films like Rocky and Remember the Titans and that esports hasn’t gotten the recognition that it truly deserves. 

“My goal has been since day one to make one of the first sports films based off esports,” Stockhoff said. 

Now Stockhoff and his team will deliver a short film named ‘Game Face’ to audiences. The story surrounds a professional MMA fighter who is injured in practice, resulting in her path for a glorious career being smothered. It’s only when she’s introduced to a video game that she gains new ground and finds another opportunity to determine herself. 

“I would go to many executive producers and say ‘This is what I want to do,’” Stockhoff said. “And they said ‘no this is too new, no one would understand it, we don’t even know how to film it, so why would we produce it?’… And I said fine, if no one understands how to do this, I’m gonna make a short film and have it be the perfect concept.”

According to Stockhoff, against all odds, the film has been miraculously realized despite lead actors dropping and other various challenges. But what was different for this set was the ambition that Stockhoff brought with him. 

One person who recognized the potential of this story taking hold was its writer, Peter Zin. After noticing Stockhoff undertaking separate productions, Peter Zin, the film’s writer, kept Stockhoff on his radar until he was asked to write for it. 

According to Zin, they originally intended to have a male lead, but due to him leaving, they rescripted the story for a female lead, which worked out better.

“The main thing we try to push with eConnXn is community and camaraderie,” Zin said. “Showing that that high competitive drive isn’t mutually exclusive to toxicity that you see in a lot of high-end competition… What we’re trying to do is show that you can have that high competitive drive and high competitive success, while still selling that positive sportsmanship and pushing that toxicity out.” 

Director of Photography Sean Keller got involved in the film because of Stockhoff’s drive to have the production do well. 

“He has a tremendous producing ability,” Keller said. “He had this incredible vision for an esports movie, and I just fell in love with the idea.” 

The movie has a lot at stake since it will be the first of its kind, moving away from industry traditions of turning old games into movies.

“A lot of people look at video games and think that it can be mindless, they think that it can be a waste of time,” Keller said. “But in fact, so many people have such a strong ability of brilliance in video games through tactical skill.” 

Overall, Keller said the film’s message was no matter your circumstances or who you are, you have the ability to do anything. 

With the uniqueness of the film’s story and its continued referencing to the ever-growing gaming industry, there’s bona fide meaning in what Stockhoff leaves audiences with.

“I really want the students to know to work your butts off, and OSU or whatever college you go to, they will help you out,” Stockhoff said. “That’s what they’re there for. If it wasn’t for those advisors, then I wouldn’t be here.” 

Stockhoff has immense gratitude for the people who persisted along the way, and he hopes its message speaks to students who are looking for something that calls to them. 

“Gamers just need to be inspired,” Stockhoff said. “Gamers also live in a very toxic world. I believe in sportsmanship, and… for gamers to compete hard… So that’s my hope, that it will inspire anyone, and that people will understand.”

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