Bailey Cossairt, a junior at St. Cloud State University, is making a documentary. If you’ve been around #VikingsTwitter in the past month, chances are you’ve heard about Wide Left: The Movie, his forthcoming film about the Minnesota Vikings and their fans’ journey from the 1998 playoffs until present day. Cossairt has been making gaming documentaries on his YouTube channel for years, racking up hundreds of thousands and, in some cases, millions of views on the most popular videos. I chatted with him over the phone earlier this week to learn more out about his first foray into the world of sports documentaries.
Vikings Territory: First of all, how did you get into video production? Take me through that if you don’t mind.
Bailey Cossairt: I think it was in ninth grade. I started doing Lego stop motion movies, where you animate it picture by picture. So I started doing that kind of thing, and then I moved to doing a lot of videos with NFL 2K5—I don’t know if you’re familiar with that game.
VT: Yeah, I loved it.
BC: Yeah, so it received a lot of fan-made roster updates through the years, so I would download the newer rosters and make videos of, for example, Cam Newton in his rookie season, but we’re playing on this Playstation 2 game.
Eventually—it must have been my senior year of high school—I got really into watching documentaries, particularly ones about gaming. And I realized I was into watching eSports, and maybe I should try doing documentaries about gaming. The first one I made wasn’t really a documentary; it was only seven minutes long. But then I got into make videos that were a half hour long, 45 minutes long, and eSports were really taking off in 2014 and 2015. So I saw some real success with those. My last was in the fall of 2016, and at that point, I kind of lost interest in playing and watching Call of Duty or some other game—I just felt like I outgrew the whole thing. But throughout my entire life, I had been this huge Vikings fan, so in December I decided, you know what, I could probably make a documentary on the Vikings.
Quickly I realized that’s not really possible. Unlike eSports, if you want to watch a random Vikings game from 2001…you can’t do it. The clips just aren’t available. So that was a real struggle, but I went on Reddit and started asking questions, and people linked me to this guy named @funkydunkleman. I got in contact with him and found out he had this massive collection of Vikings games that he had saved through the years. He was willing to work with me and give me access to that footage that otherwise I could have never gotten, and that’s when the project took off.
VT: So the movie is called “Wide Left.” Is the focus mostly the missed kicks by Gary Anderson and Blair Walsh and the time in between?
BC: So I started with the footage @funkydunkleman gave me, and looked at what I could build around that. The further back you go, the spottier it gets—if you wanted a game from the seventies or eighties, he’d have maybe one game every three years. So I looked at what the best starting point would be, and decided it would be the end of 1997, losing to the 49ers, because from there he had many of the games. And, of course, ’98 was this huge season I couldn’t miss.
It wouldn’t have been realistic to start a lot earlier than that, so when people say “why is it only the last 20 years, why isn’t it the whole history?” I just have to use the limited resources I have.
VT: Are people really asking for a whole, comprehensive history of the Minnesota Vikings?
BC: A lot of people were saying to me, “why are you doing the most depressing time period? Show us when we got to the Super Bowls and when we were good.” I personally find it depressing that they lost four Super Bowls, so I would find that equally problematic.
VT: Yeah, the whole history is depressing.
BC: Right (laughs). So it’s going to take you from 1997, to up until the end of the 2016 season with Bradford. Obviously there’s going to be emphasis on the two core NFC Championship losses with Gary Anderson and Favre’s interception, but I’m also pushing the Blair Walsh thing because it resonates with a younger crowd. It helps bring together the two age groups and is more recent in people’s memories.
VT: I saw you’re going to be having fans telling their stories in the movie. Tell me about that.
BC: We had an open submission process where anyone could submit their videos. And in the end, the four guys I have talking—Chris, Anthony, Jamie, and Tanner—they all had great submissions that I think will bring a whole new element to the documentary.
The most interesting thing to me about all four of them, is that only one is from Minnesota. Chris is from Maine, Anthony is from New York, and Tanner is from Arizona, so it’s a really diverse group, and it definitely brings another element to the documentary. For example, you’ll hear Anthony talk about the 2000 NFC Championship game. He went to see it live, and here they lose 41-0 in his state, and how embarrassing that was to have to go to work the next day as the Vikings fan in New York.
VT: In terms of distribution, you’re doing YouTube. Have you thought about pursing any other channels, or is it a wait-and-see type of thing?
BC: It’s funny, Tanner told me I should put this on DVD, and I basically told him there’s no way I’m putting it on DVD (laughs). That could become very problematic from a rights standpoint [with all the NFL footage].
So YouTube and we’ll see where it goes from there. I’m guessing that’s where it’ll stay. With the eSports documentaries, sometimes those will get reposted somewhere, but I don’t expect that to happen with this, because there’s nowhere I’d feel real comfortable it getting re-uploaded. Unless it was to an official team channel, which I think is pretty unrealistic.
VT: How long do you expect it to be?
BC: The script is 17 pages. When I did my documentary on FaZe 5 in the fall, which was my longest one, I think the script was 11 pages. So I’m thinking we hit the hour mark, or maybe past that. That’s my goal: an hour or more.
Recording of the narration for @WideLeftMovie has been completed! Clocking in at 53 minutes alone, the movie will be well over an hour!
— SpawnTrapped (@SpawnTrapped) March 8, 2017
VT: Do you have a release date in mind?
BC: I’ve been telling people who have asked that I want to get it out this offseason. I think that’s a realistic goal for now.