Brant Pinvidic thought his 13-year-old daughter was crazy for spending so much time playing Pokemon Go, so he decided to try it himself just to be sure.
What Pinvidic -- the filmmaker behind 2015’s similarly themed “Why I’m Not on Facebook” -- ended up with was the short documentary “Why I’m Not on Pokemon Go” -- not to mention a better relationship with his daughter, he told CBS News.
What has the response been to the video since its release?
It’s been really fun, a lot of attention. And I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from parents. A typical response is, “I’m doing PokemonGo right now” because a lot of them have kids that are completely swamped by it. What I always thought as a parent was you try to engage with your kid on something they’re doing -- try to figure out how to enjoy it -- and it usually doesn’t work. This taught me to look at stuff and try to figure out why they like it -- what is the appealing element to a 13-year-old girl? What is the appealing element to a 9-year-old boy? Or whoever it is you’re parenting. It was just a different perspective and I became a lot less judgmental on things -- a lot less is maybe exaggerating, but less judgmental than I was.
Do you feel like you get it now? Or do you at least enjoy playing it?
I do enjoy playing it. I totally get and understand the appeal, and what was really good for me was I understood the appeal to my daughter, why she liked it and what was interesting for her because I let her explain that, and that was what I was genuinely interested in. I wasn’t trying to get her to convince me why it’s great or why I should play it, I was trying to get her to explain what was appealing to her -- why she wanted to be on it all the time, why it would make her want to sneak out of the house to walk around the neighborhood. That was a different perspective, and she spoke differently when I talked to her like that.
Do you run the risk as a parent of turning them off of something by engaging with it?
Actually, I 100 percent subscribe to that idea, but I think that’s a different generation. The rebellious nature of the teenager is a little different now. When I was young, my parents were so square and out of my life, if they tried to get into my life it would be very objectionable. But in our modern day, having parents in and around and doing things is not so egregious to these kids anymore, and I don’t find that the rebellious nature is the same to just do the opposite of what your parents are doing.
What was your daughter’s reaction to the short?
The funny thing was she didn’t even watch it right away. I told her it was finished and she was like, “Yeah OK.” I think part of it was she had no idea the sort of depth of the film because I just sort of roped her into it. I don’t think she had a context of the totality of what we were doing. She got so swept up in it and so overwhelmed, I don’t think she really put two and two together that the whole film sort of ended up being about her. It wasn’t for at least a week after the release that she finally said, “OK, let’s watch this.” She sat down and she watched it and she really liked it. I got a big smile, and that’s a big win in my book. I only get about five of those a year.
How are you planning on expanding this?
My company is developing the “Why I’m Not On” brand into other subjects that fit into that structure. I try to go into these subjects with an open mind, and I’m clearly OK playing the fool in those. I’m hoping that a few times that it comes out where I’m actually right in the beginning. So far I haven’t hit that, but I’m sure at some point I’ll pick one right. We’re going to be developing that as a TV series ,and I have a podcast starting in the beginning of February. And then we’ll look to continue this as a franchise and maybe do one more documentary, we’ll see.
What’s your perspective on the changing landscape of what is and isn’t TV and where a series can live now?
I’ve gone through cycles in my career of excitement and disappointment and terror and elation. Last year and the year before was quite a bit of terror because the changing landscape of TV looked like the end of the way I did business. This daunting task of getting into the digital world was nerve-wracking. Luckily, what I think is starting to come to fruition is that TV as a delivery platform may change, but TV in the sense of how people watch content is as strong as ever, if not stronger. You see that with Apple or Snapchat or Twitter or YouTube -- when they buy shows and original content, a lot of that is TV-structured content -- the 30-minute, the hour, the storytelling -- everything around that feels like long-form content. As a content creator, I’m starting to feel much more secure and much more excited. As long as the consumer doesn’t change the way they consume the TV content, I think I’m in a great position.