Producers of “Skill Shot, Baby! Pinball Epiphany,” a short film about the world of pre-video arcade games, didn’t have to look very far for a custom token. Located in Indianapolis, Indiana, the production crew was thrilled to discover a trusted source only a short drive to the east. In July 2022, they reached out to TokensDirect, a division of Cincinnati-based Osborne Coinage. Yolanda Alvarado, inside sales account manager, took the call.
“They wanted a custom token,” explains Alvarado. “Not just to be used on camera, but also as a thank you for donations and a memento for cast and crew.” Like many independent film projects, “Skill Shot’s” funding was partially crowd sourced, making the custom token both an ideal gesture of gratitude as well as a treasured keepsake. One might even say its benefits were two sides of the same coin.
In addition to more than 100 Kickstarter backers, the “Skill Shot, Baby! Pinball Epiphany” short film was supported by a key partnership with Wizard World in Fort Wayne, Indiana—one of the largest pinball arcades in the world.
About the film
Typical of many short films, “Skill Shot” represents the first step toward the creation of a feature-length movie. By presenting a key scene from the planned larger work, the “short” is able to showcase the talent, style, and subject matter of the intended feature, which helps attract investors and build momentum. In addition to its somewhat unusual subject matter, the film sets itself apart with original music, stop-motion animation, and, of course, a custom token.
The story centers around the character Jake McMillan who delivers a pinball machine he has repaired to a bar, hoping to start a new life and career as a pinball tech and owner. But with no experience in that world, Jake has little understanding of what he has chosen as a career. Conflict, intrigue, and whimsy are the result as a floundering Jake, with no realistic prospects of success, navigates the universe of pinball.
“Skill Shot” was finalized in September 2022 and premiered in November as part of the Carmel Film Forum in Carmel, Indiana. It will be released publicly this spring (2023).
Parallels of resurgence
Pinball, similar to vinyl records, has enjoyed renewed interest in recent years. The same can be said of coin collecting. After falling out of favor in the 1980s and 1990s, both pinball and coin collecting are making a comeback. Think you’re not a coin collector? Think again.
“When most people see a penny, they pick it up,” explains Alvarado. “Or they collect the state quarters, or just keep a jar of coins on their dresser.” And many times, collecting is quite personal. Alvarado reminisces: “My mother kept a coin for each of her children made the year of their birth.”
Alvarado points to further evidence of renewed interest in collecting through more youthful numismatic organizations. “We were recently contacted by a numismatic society made up of third- to sixth-graders. Coin collecting really is a hobby you can do together, as a family or a group.”
From movies to McDonald’s
While manufacturing coins for an independent film is not a typical venture for TokensDirect and Osborne Coinage, the company has been involved in its share of interesting projects—from commemorating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing to honoring women who served in World War II. Some less common examples include a partnership with Kenner Toys to manufacture Star Wars coins (long before anyone predicted how successful the eventual franchise would be) and an agreement with McDonald’s to supply six million “50th Anniversary of the Big Mac” coins.
The durability factor
It’s been said that film is forever. So, too, the coin. One of the attractions of coins and custom tokens is their ability to endure. Unlike gift cards that may be discarded or certificates that may get lost among a sea of paperwork, coins are small, portable, and don’t wear out. Says Alvarado, “Coins last a long time. They’re ‘sticky.’ Recently, someone metal detecting in New Zealand found one of our coins!”
This characteristic of permanence may serve the producers of “Skill Shot” well. Knowing that it can take years for a feature to gain traction, the short’s custom token will persist as a reminder. Regardless of whether the feature ends up being made sooner or much later, “Skill Shot’s” special token can easily be reminted at any time—TokensDirect keeps its custom dies indefinitely.
“Unlike some mints, we never throw away a die,” explains Alvarado. “If something gets lost or damaged, we replace it. We literally have dies that date back to the mid 1800s.”
For information on creating custom coins, collectible rounds or tokens, please contact Osborne Coinage at 800-488-2646 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Established in 1835, Osborne Coinage is America’s oldest continuously operating private mint. The Osborne Coinage family includes Osborne Coinage, Osborne Mint, TokensDirect, and Van Brook of Lexington. The mint, a 60,000 square foot facility in Cincinnati, Ohio, houses the development, engraving and manufacturing of everything from inexpensive tokens to numismatic quality collectible rounds and coins.