Geek of the Week: Filmmaker, Game Developer and Geek Dad Joe Granato

I’m excited to welcome our very first Geek Dad feature, Joe Granato from The New 8 Bit Heroes. He’s a new dad and long-time geek working on a cool project to help people create their own Nintendo games.

1) Let’s start with the basics – name, what do you do, etc.
My name is Joe Granato – I’m a filmmaker, game developer, writer, and musician.  The current project I’m working on is NESmaker, a tool that allows users to create new, cartridge based, hardware playable NES games without having to learn to code.  In addition, we are programming our own NES games.  More information about that can be found at www.TheNew8bitHeroes.com.
I chronicled the homebrew community in a feature length documentary called The New 8-bit Heroes, which is currently available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0786Y4L53  (*A certain Geek Mama makes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in the documentary and bonus footage)

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2) What do you geek out on? 
I’m a big retro game nerd, and am a big fan of science fiction and fantasy.  Some of my fandoms include The Legend of Zelda universe, Stephen King’s Dark Tower mythos, X-files and The Twilight Zone, Asimov and Bradbury, Firefly and Quantum Leap…I guess it’s a pretty eclectic mix of things.

3) Marvel or DC? and Why?
A good story is a good story.  I have no allegiance to either.  I think they both have their well constructed narratives, and I think they both have ill-conceived disasters.  As a filmmaker, I definitely appreciated the Nolan Batman films, the first two probably being my favorite superhero adaptations.  But that was more due to the caliber filmmaking than the characters, necessarily.  In contrast, I never really liked the style over substance approach of Snyder’s movies, so they’ve been much less interesting to me.  I probably am attached less to any Marvel character, but they have been consistent in cultivating their extended cinematic universe and have kept me entertained for a decade.  So especially if we’re talking about extending the characters to their film adaptations, that’s a tough question.  If we’re including all related media, I think Marvel has the edge for me, especially considering many of their stories were originally conceived when the company was still the struggling underdog.  That sort of struggle has a tendency to produce more honest art in any medium.

4) Star Wars or Star Trek? and Why?
I think this is a similar answer.  Star Trek and Star Wars serve very different functions in my psyche.  One is science fiction, one is fantasy.  I love both science fiction and fantasy.  As a storyteller, I think that I’m much more passionate about the original Star Wars trilogy than I am for any particular Star Trek episodes or films, but for escapism.  But then, I have been less passionate about anything since.  Star Trek’s breadth and topical social commentary which has continued to evolve with new generations of audiences is always interesting, but it’s more recent iterations have jettisoned much of that for more cinematic arcs and blockbuster style sensory experience.  I think I’m disillusioned when either tries to be the other.  Star Wars falls apart when it becomes allegory for our contemporary political climate.  Star Trek feels a bit vapid when it’s reduced to action set pieces.  I like my Star Wars fantasy, and my Trek sci fi.  But I’m not sure I could ever pick between the two.

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5) Were you a geeky kid or did you come into it later in life?
I think my life was kind of a geek-donut.  As a kid, I was definitely a little nerd. I was the Nintendo kid in my neighborhood.  I remember the first time a girl that I had a crush on ever called me on the phone, it was to ask me questions about Zelda 2.  I became very interested in programming, loved to read, loved horror and fantasy movies, voluntarily stayed in on Friday nights to watch X-Files, had late night sessions of Magic the Gathering, D&D and Axis and Allies…sure, it’s safe to say I was a nerd then.  I sort of grew out of video games for a while, and my focused interest in many of those nerdy things waned a bit as I got much deeper into music, toured with a rock band, began teaching, became an “adult”.  But I found my way back.  Now I have an arcade cabinet in my living room, make video games and write sci fi and fantasy, and even have a new Magic deck hiding in a drawer for a rainy day.  My nerddom has unapologetically returned in full force.

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6) Are your kids into the geek stuff too?
Well, the young one is only two years old so it’s a bit hard to tell at this point, but he is absolutely my little padawan.  He loves the intro to TNG and is excited when he sees the Enterprise on screen, knows all of the main Star Wars characters by name, is excited to “press the buttons” on the arcade machine…at least for the time being, he is perfectly happy being indoctrinated in the ways of the nerd.

7) Are you working on anything right now you’d like to share?
The main nerdy thing in my universe right now is continuing development of NESmaker and geeking out over all of the amazing games our community is developing with it.  Hopefully, something we’re creating gives someone else the ability to make something worthy of being a new geek obsession!

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Big thanks to Joe for volunteering to be the first Geek Dad on Geek Mamas! If you are a geeky parent interested in being featured, contact me for details.

 

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