Finding Community in 'The Lost Arcade'

Kurt Vincent ’06 returned to Denison to screen his documentary feature and directorial debut, 'The Lost Arcade.'

Ten years after graduating from Denison, Kurt Vincent ’06 returned to The Hill to screen his documentary feature and directorial debut, ‘The Lost Arcade.’ The film explores the history and community surrounding Chinatown Fair – a legendary New York City arcade. The film was an official selection in the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and is screening at theaters across the U.S. this fall.

I was a complete outsider to that subculture of gaming. I was amazed that a place like Chinatown Fair was existing in 2011…

Vincent and producer Irene Chin first heard about the arcade in 2011 and decided to visit the small gathering place in Lower Manhattan. They were captivated and wanted to learn more. Vincent explained his fascination to a crowd following the film screening in Slayter Auditorium: “I was a complete outsider to that subculture of gaming. I was amazed that a place like Chinatown Fair was existing in 2011…you know this weird, quarter-based, hole-in-the-wall arcade where teenagers were hanging out… [I thought] there’s gotta be a story to this place. You just felt like something was special.”

Not only was Vincent new to the competitive gaming world, he was also new to New York City. Born and raised in Ohio, Vincent moved to New York a few years after graduation to begin his film career. He participated in an internship at the documentary film production company Maysles Films (‘Gimme Shelter,’ ‘Grey Gardens’), where he also met the future executive producer of ‘The Lost Arcade.’

Immediately inspired by his first encounter with Chinatown Fair, and after hearing word that it would soon close, Vincent began a Kickstarter campaign. He raised about $30,000 and the campaign introduced the project to gaming sites and communities that spread word about the film.

“I knew that if I could tell a story and maybe contribute something to the culture of New York, it would make me feel like more of a part of the city,” Vincent explained, “So many people move to New York and they use the city up in some sort of way – they either leave or they’re taking and taking. And I wanted to make something of value that kind of gives back to the community.”

After shooting over 100 hours of footage, Vincent cut the film to a tight 74 minutes, documenting the history of the arcade, its closing, and its reopening under new ownership. It features interviews, b-roll, archival footage, and dream sequences that reveal the personal stories of arcade-goers and the impact it had on their lives.

The film also includes an original score by award-winning film composer Gil Talmi, whom Vincent just happened to meet while renting a desk in the same Brooklyn studio. Inspired by Chinatown Fair’s 1980s atmosphere, Talmi bought a Roland Synthesizer and created a retro score that enhances the nostalgia and wistfulness of the film. The score stands out because, as Vincent described, it is used “in a very cinematic, narrative style” which is atypical to documentary filmmaking.

In addition to holding a Q&A after screening ‘The Lost Arcade,’ Vincent met with students in Professor Dave Bussan’s ‘Intro Documentary Film’ course. Students had an opportunity to ask Vincent about the film, life after Denison, and even pitch ideas for their own documentaries as final projects in the class.

Vincent shared with them what is next after ‘The Lost Arcade,’ explaining that he will continue to do commercial film work as well as prep for his next project, a narrative feature film, with writer/producer Irene Chin. He also emphasized the importance of practicing one’s film skills – be it cinematography, directing, or editing – and explained the importance of simple networking: “I‘m walking away with a new community of people to work with on the next project. You never know who you’ll meet and what it will lead to.”

For more on ‘The Lost Arcade,’ visit the following links:

November 16, 2016