In 2011, I composed a theme song for my friend Nirvan Mullick's short doc about a cool kid named Caine Monroy. You won't believe what happened next...
About Caine’s Arcade
Caine’s Arcade is a short film by Nirvan Mullick about a 9 year old boy’s handmade cardboard arcade, located in his dad’s auto parts store in East Los Angeles. The film inspired a global movement to foster creativity in kids, leading to the launch of theImagination Foundation and an annual Global Cardboard Challenge.
In 2011, at the age of 9, Caine Monroy spent his summer vacation building an elaborate DIY cardboard arcade in his dad’s used auto parts store in East Los Angeles.
Caine loved arcades, and dreamed of the day he would have lots of customers come play. He spent months building and preparing his arcade, perfecting his game design, making displays for prizes (his toy cars), designing elaborate security systems for his Fun Pass, making his own Caine’s Arcade STAFF shirt, and even hand labeling paper-lunch-bags for customers to carry home prizes. However, his dad’s autoparts store (located in an industrial part of Boyle Heights) received very little foot traffic, so Caine’s chances of getting a customer were very small, and the few walk-in customers that came through were always in too much of a hurry to get their auto part to stop to play Caine’s Arcade. Caine never had a single customer, but Caine never gave up.
On the last day of summer, by chance, a man named Nirvan Mullick walked into Caine’s dad’s auto parts store to buy a door handle for his ’96 Corolla. Caine asked Nirvan if he would like to play the arcade. Curious, Nirvan stopped to ask Caine how the arcade worked. Caine explained that for $1, Nirvan could get two turns to play, or for $2 he could get a Fun Pass (with 500 turns). Nirvan bought the Fun Pass.
Nirvan became Caine’s first and only customer, and he loved Caine’s Arcade. It turned out that Nirvan was also a filmmaker, and he came back to ask Caine’s dad if he could make a short film about Caine’s Arcade. It was at that poing Nirvan learned that he had been Caine’s first and only customer. Nirvan decided to organize a surprise flash mob of customers to come play Caine’s Arcade, and make Caine’s day.
Words can’t describe Caine’s response – so watch the film. After the flashmob, Caine told his dad that that was the best day of his whole life.
FROM A MOVIE TO A MOVEMENT (POST-FILM UPDATE):
Caine’s Arcade was posted online on April 9th, 2012, and became an instant viral phenomenon. The film received over 1 million views in the first 24 hours, and trended worldwide on twitter. As part of the film, Nirvan set up a scholarship fund for Caine with an initial goal of raising $25,000 for Caine. The first day the film was posted, we raised over $60,000 for Caine’s Scholarship Fund! The next day, we had raised over $110,000. Kids all over the world were also inspired to create cardboard games and creations. Inspired by the response, Two days after the film was posted, Nirvan decided to start a non-profit to find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in more kids like Caine. 5 days later, the Goldhirsh Foundation awarded us a $250,000 Challenge Grant to help start the Imagination Foundation, which launched an annual Global Cardboard Challenge that engages over 100,000 kids in creative play each year!
Watch Nirvan’s follow-up film: “Caine’s Arcade 2 : From a Movie to a Movement”
Caine's Arcade 2: From a Movie to a Movement