PAX 2011: These Movies Are Made With Support From Gamers Like You
Hollywood can't seem to make a good gamer movie, but Dead Gentlemen Productions keeps rolling natural 20s with their indie films, and you can help them continue to do so.
Let's be honest about something: There isn't a lot of Hollywood love for the Dungeons & Dragons crowd. It's probably safe to assume that a large part of this is due to the dreadful film from 2000 that was a box-office bomb, which relegated other official D&D movies to being nothing more than TV productions aired on the Sci-Fi Channel. However, Dead Gentlemen Productions and Zombie Orpheus Entertainment have picked up a lot of the slack over the past decade with productions like The Gamers, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, and JourneyQuest (the first Webisode of which is embedded here). At PAX Prime this past weekend, the groups were on hand to present a screening of JourneyQuest's entire first season, as well as talk about how they got started and what they're eventually hoping to accomplish.
If you're not familiar with JourneyQuest and you're a fantasy/D&D fan, you really should check it out, especially since all the episodes are available for free on YouTube. The series is about a group of heroes composed of Nara, an Elven archer who's got a pretty big future; Carrow, a cleric who finds himself in a pretty strange living situation, Glorian, a psychotic warrior who thinks that honor can only be earned by killing things; and Perf, arguably the worst wizard who's ever lived. But, for some reason, they've been hired by the Wicked Kings to brave the Temple of All Dooms and recover the Sword of Fighting, a mystical weapon that's prophesied to destroy the evil rulers' reigns. The group is being followed by Wren, a trainee bard who's been assigned to cover the group's "epic" as her final project before she can become a full-fledged bard.
So far, the group's productions have been intense labors of love, made on shoestring budgets and revolving around cast and crew's work schedules (as it was pointed out during the panel, "we only get so much vacation time a year"). Part of this is due to the fact that they're trying to avoid Hollywood involvement with their films and series, a decision they came to after becoming increasingly disillusioned after watching shows like Firefly and Jericho get canceled, despite large -and vocal - fan bases.
Instead, the group came to an unheard of decision: Create totally original content, put it in the creative commons, and let fans go nuts with it. That means they encourage fans to embed, share, and remix the content they've released online with the hope that it'll help spread the word about their productions. If a viewer can spare a couple of bucks, they can make a contribution to the fund for the next season of JourneyQuest. That said, everyone in the company is fully aware of how tough times are right now; as a result, they're grateful even if a person just helps spread the word about them.
So far, the plan seems to slowly be working. The first season of JourneyQuest is almost paid off, and the second season has received about a quarter of the funding necessary before production can begin. Speaking of the second season, some spoilers for the new season were revealed at the screening (if you haven't finished the first season yet, go ahead and take care of that before you read this):
• The Assassin starts to bring the heroes back to the Wicked Kings, though they all travel through the City of the Dead, which naturally leads to complications.
• Glorian continues to rampage through the Temple of All Dooms, now accompanied by the gargoyle.
• The Barbarian King (played by MMA star Bob Sapp) starts causing trouble and will eventually wind up punching Perf in the face.
• The Bard's Guild sends out a "real" bard (played by Fran Kranz, known to many as Topher on Dollhouse) to take covering the quest away from Wren. Naturally, this doesn't go over well with Wren, and the audience will get to watch her own story undergo significant development.
Additionally, some more details were revealed about the next Gamers film. A script has been written and the next step is getting it funded. While they're currently still focused on raising cash for Season 2 of JourneyQuest, Zombie Orpheus may be starting up a Kickstarter project to raise the necessary funding in the (presumably near) future.
If you're looking for further information about (or want to support) Dead Gentlemen's projects, you can visit their official website or follow them on Twitter. Zombie Orpheus's website, in turn, can be seen here and you can also follow them on Twitter.