Q&A: Tiffany Kim Dixon, Assistant Editor for All Work All Play: The Pursuit of eSports Glory

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Photo courtesy of Tiffany Dixon

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Dixon

The world of gaming has moved from computer screens to the silver screen, thanks to Patrick Creadon’s new film, All Work All Play: The Pursuit of eSports Glory (AWAP). His latest documentary is an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look into eSports, specifically season nine of the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship. The film premieres July 21 in North America and then on July 28 in Europe. Fangirl had the opportunity to talk with Tiffany Kim Dixon, an assistant editor for AWAP. Although Dixon has worked on several previous documentary films, including Good Ol’ Freda, The Case Against 8 and The Battered Bastards of BaseballAWAP is special because it highlights one of her passions: gaming.

How exactly did you get into film? Did you know that was something you wanted to do?

It’s a long story (laughs). I never went to film school. I actually went to UNC-Chapel Hill and graduated with a psychology bachelor of science degree. I finished my degree early, and I’ve always had an interest in doing film in some capacity, so I got involved with the television group on campus, and I also started taking film classes my last year. Once I graduated, I moved back to my hometown of San Diego, California, and within a year or so I worked as a production assistant at a corporate video company. One year later, I moved to Los Angeles, California, and started freelancing.

Somehow within the last two years, I got into post-production. It’s been sort of a journey in the sense that I’ve been around. I’ve done acting, I’ve done background work, I’ve done post-production. But I’m settled in, well settled in, to post-production. I’m an assistant editor, and hopefully one day a creative editor.

How did you become a part of AWAP?

I was actually called on in the middle of the project to give additional support. I worked really closely with two editors, Nick Andert and Daniel Clark. Mainly, my view is, I just pick out the good moments out of the footage. I’m like, “Hey guys, I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I think this is awesome, and I think you should consider using this.” And more or less, every single thing that I’m starring or saying “this is awesome” has more or less made it in somehow.

This is one of my first feature documentaries that I’ve worked on, and it’s been awesome. You’re around people who are just as enthusiastic about gaming. They themselves wind up becoming gamers by the end of this project.

It’s been a blast working on this project. This is one of my first feature documentaries that I’ve worked on, and it’s been awesome. You’re around people who are just as enthusiastic about gaming. They themselves wind up becoming gamers by the end of this project. Prior to this project, I worked on other documentaries as well within the post-production world. But this is sort of my first time being actually like a really key part of the team, so I’m excited about it.

Can you tell me a bit about your gaming background?

Yeah, I grew up playing video games. If you ask me specifics, it’s been a while; I don’t remember everything (laughs). But yeah, I grew up playing. My very first video game ever was Alien Typhoon on the Apple II Plus. From there I remember in elementary school I’d always go to a friend’s house, and we’d play Unreal Tournament or we would play Spyro or Monster Ranch or Final Fantasy. It was everything and anything that he had. That’s sort of my introduction into gaming. Shortly after college when I graduated, I got back into it, like a lot of Call of Duty with people I knew from high school. It’s been a part of my life (laughs).

What was it like to work on a project that combines two things you’re so passionate about?

I personally could connect with anybody that I saw on screen. I’m relating to somebody else and I’m like, “You know, what, I tried to understand their way of thinking.” And again, I offer it up again to Nick or Daniel and say “Hey, take a look at this.”

It’s been really special for me. And on top of that, the other part too is I draw from my team, and they draw from me. They’re also into this stuff, and that’s sort of what’s made this happen, along with Patrick Creadon, our director. I’m really sad that it’s starting to kinda wind down, you know, as the premiere comes into the horizon here.

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 Photos by Helena Kristiansson, courtesy ESL and courtesy of O’Malley Creadon Productions

There are more female characters featured in the film than I anticipated. How did you pick out the footage for AWAP?  

I don’t know. I think at the end of the day, it’s more about who’s interesting. I think anybody who will sit down and watch hours and hours of interviews might have a feeling by the end, like, “You know, I think something that this person said was really interesting. I think their perspective was really really cool.”

So, you know, say for example, let’s take Sjokz (Eefje Depoortere). She is awesome … I mean, she studied journalism before she got involved in the eSports scene, and she was really into traditional sports before. She is coming from the traditional world, but then she’s totally into gaming as well, and she managed to marry all those things together into what we see today. She’s one of the best Intel Extreme Masters hosts that we have. She draws from her diverse background: growing up and going to school and gaming and all of that.

I think that’s the main criteria for any character that winds up on screen, male or female. It’s about what is it that they’re saying that’s interesting and … do they really pop. Like, do people like them after they finish watching?

Do you think there’s room in eSports for female gamers?

I think there is. For example, drawing from (Robert Morris University), them having a scholarship and offering scholarships to gamers that are interested in going pro. I think there are opportunities for female gamers to become professional. From what I’m gathering, I think part of the challenge of making it to the top is just the sheer amount of pressure and really having to be at the top all the time. Because they understand that there is a barrier, there is a perception that female gamers aren’t as good or the quality of their gaming for whatever reason isn’t as good as male gamers even though that’s not true.

I think having to fight a perception that you know other people have of you and still trying to draw from your passion and push forward and do what you want to do is the challenge. It’s sort of like swimming upstream, or it’s sort of like running up a mountain. Everyone else is running on a level playing field … You have other people who aren’t with you, who aren’t in your camp, who aren’t in your corner and don’t expect you to do well, and that has an impact.

There is a perception that female gamers aren’t as good or the quality of their gaming for whatever reason isn’t as good as male gamers even though that’s not true. I think having to fight a perception that you know other people have of you and still trying to draw from your passion and push forward and do what you want to do is the challenge.

I also picked up that a lot of female gamers don’t want to talk about this … As far as they’re concerned, they love playing the game, they do it well, and they want to keep doing it, and that’s it. That’s always their answer. And, you know, for me, that’s here watching all of this happen. I’m cheering for them, for sure.

What’s your advice for female gamers as they face those struggles and try to move forward?

I think a big part that’s gonna help is to find your support network. You’ve got to find other girls and other women who are into the same thing you are and become friends with them. It’s more difficult, I think, from what I’m seeing, to get into the professional gaming world without help. Don’t expect to be able to do it in a vacuum. As soon as you can, reach out to other people, and really draw from that support and form a community.

Are there any major takeaways that you hope viewers will get from AWAP?

I think the big takeaway from this film, as the title implies, All Work All Play, is passion. That’s the reason why we went with the title for the film. Yeah, you work hard, but the reason why you do it is because you’re working on something you love to do. There’s no reason why you do it short of that.

Specifically, girls and women out there who are in male-dominated fields, such as in professional gaming or even in film, bottom line is just do what you want to do. Do what you love to do, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And keep pushing forward, even if you feel like there’s no hope. Just do the thing that excites you.

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