Lexington, Ky. – Lexington video game designer Gun Media made a big splash Oct. 13 when it revealed that its next product will be part of the highly successful “Friday The 13th” slasher franchise. The dozen movies dating to the early 1980s have grossed $465 million and made cultural touchstones of its lead character Jason and his hockey mask.
“This is a dream project. It’s an immense responsibility to do this right, for the fans. Every detail must be perfect,” said Wes Keltner, creative director of Gun Media.
A month-long Kickstarter campaign – ending on, yep, Friday the 13th – is underway to raise at least $700,000 for development and production of a product planned for release on major gaming systems platform in a year.
Gun Media had been attracting slasher/horror fans’ attention on its website with hints about a game to be named “Summer Camp” – in a very familiar setting, Camp Crystal Lake. Word of the “Friday The 13th: The Game” reveal ripped quickly across the Internet with gushing fans making it Twitter’s No. 2 trend topic – ahead of the Democratic presidential debate that took place the previous night on Oct. 12.
“‘Friday The 13th’ is to the horror/slasher audience what ‘Star Wars’ is to the sci-fi crowd,” Keltner said.
Early response to the Kickstarter campaign ranks its among the top 5 percent, Keltner said. Backing topped $400,000 in two days. By Tuesday morning “Friday The 13th: The Game” had 7,052 backers and more than $457,662 in funding (kickstarter.com/projects/613356213/friday-the-13th-the-game).
The campaign has a significant list of push goals beyond its $700,000 threshhold, said Keltner, a branding expert whose Gun Media team has a variety of promotions planned as their project’s namesake date nears.
“It’s my love letter to ‘Friday The 13th,’ ” he said of Gun’s third video game project, which involves several major name participants from the hit movies. Sean Cunningham, producer and director of the original, provided licensing to the project in a no-upfront-cash deal that will make the small Lexington gaming shop the first of any size since the late 1980s to gain Cunningham’s blessing.
Before approaching Cunningham, Keltner had signed on several of the director’s former “F13” associates, horror special effects guru Tom Savini and 6-foot-4 actor Kane Hodder, who wore the hockey mask in four films and imbued Jason Voorhees with iconic physical aspects, such as the character’s chest-heaving breathing.
Ten-year-old Gun Media previously operated as a tech-forward boutique creative consultant to major corporations and ad agencies, helping them adapt as successive mobile and social media platforms created new channels to customers. This always included a strong gaming component, such as assisting with product placement within video games under developments.
Gun Media achieved its own gaming product success and credibility with two video game releases, which were created for mobile device and desktop platforms. The first “Breach & Clear” game was released in 2013. It is a tactical, turn-based game in which players control a four-man military squad that, as the name suggests, must enter and control hostile environments. It did so well that a second B&C “DEADline” was developed and released the next year for PC via the popular Steam online platform.
Keltner and Gun raised $750,000, the vast majority from Kentucky sources, to create B&C one. An established gaming studio paid development costs for the second, Keltner said.
The team at Gun controls and directs the creative process, setting the rules and parameters that partners and contractors flesh out.
“Friday The 13th: The Game” will be a big step forward. The previous F13 game product in 1989 was on the Nintendo platform. Cunningham has not deemed any subsequent proposals worthy of licensure, Keltner said.
“I completely submerge myself in them,” Keltner said of Gun’s gaming projects. “It sparks a deeper passion” and commitment to quality and authenticity that comes through when he seeks to recruit others to join in.
“When you show them that passion,” he said, “it creates a response in other creatives” – such as Cunningham, Savini and Hodder – whose antenna are always alert during a pitch to whether what they are hearing “… is some sales thing, or is it legit.”
IllFonic video game studio in Denver will be executing development of “Friday The 13th: The Game.”
Updates on the progress are available by following @Friday13thgame on Twitter and at the F13 Kickstarter page.