Showing posts with label Film. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Film. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dorkland Interview -- The Dangers of Daggermore with Hal Burdick

The Dangers of Daggermore Kickstarter is in its final stretch with just a few days left to go. Hal Burdick, the man behind the project, took some time to sit down with us here at Dorkland! for a short interview on the film, Kickstarter and RPGs.

Dorkland!: How has the Kickstarter project been for you and what, particularly, have you learned from this experience that you feel might help in future projects?

Hal Burdick: I’m reasonably happy with this Kickstarter project. The gaming community is a great one. The community has a lot of passion, a lot of loyalty, and is willing to support new projects. I once read that 33% of all funded Kickstarter projects were game related. I’m just happy that this community was willing to support the making of The Dangers of Daggermore, which is game inspired, but not really a game project.

DL: What kind of setup are you using to film The Dangers of Daggermore?

HB: Kersey Valley Spooky Woods is a haunted attraction near Greensboro, NC. The sets there are ideal for shooting The Dangers of Daggermore. Much of the haunted attraction features dungeon corridors, sewers, and dark alleyways. If they only had a tavern with a sign hanging outside reading “The Affable Adventurer,” it would be a one stop shop for shooting the entire webseries. 

DL: What types of special effects and props will be used, if any? Also, what's your personal favorite special effect or prop and why?

HB: Victoria Singleton has made some great costumes as you can see in the test footage. We got our cool looking weapons from Medieval Collectibles. Joh Harp is the art director of Spooky Woods and does special effects for us. He’s done the special effects for movies like Bombshell Bloodbath; so the effects will have a horror movie feel as well as a fantasy feel with elf’s ears and the regenerating troll monster we plan on having the adventurers fight.

DL: What are the inspirations behind The Dangers of Daggermore? Any particular RPG settings?

HB: Jon Carpenter’s The Thing was a film I ran a few adventurers about in my younger days. The Thing is a doppleganger in that movie, but it had a lot of features of a regenerating troll as well. There’s a classic scene where a head separates itself from its body,  pulls itself along by its tongue, sprouts its own legs, and starts walking across the floor like a spider. Sounds close enough to a regenerating troll to me. We’re paying homage to that with the monster the adventurers fight in the pilot.

As for setting, I have a gaming website called World of Atlas which features my home world that I game mastered for 20 years. Daggermore is set on this world. The key feature of the world is that Atlas is a real being holding up the world on his mountain. The campaign started with characters that lived on his mountain who then ventured out on a mission to save the world from Chaos who had come to destroy both Atlas and the world he held up. I’m thinking of making the world open source and OGL so that anyone can create adventures for it. I know I am frustrated by the fact that all the great adventures my friends created for our gaming group upon Greyhawk can’t be published by us or played by anyone else. 

The website also features tools for those who can’t play as much D&D as they’d like anymore due to real life intrusions.  Though I love Skyrim and Lord of the Rings Online, I also love the freedom that adventuring in an unbounded RPG setting gives you. The goal for the site is to create a never ending need for new adventure modules.  I don’t need another gaming system – that’s a solved problem. I want more adventures so that I can create characters that tell their own story through the adventures they have.

DL: Why have such a focus on RPGs and their tropes -- why not focus on fantasy, in-general?

HB: A fantasy film is like sex.  When it’s good, it’s really good.  When it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.  I pretty much watch any fantasy film I can get my hands on.  The stuff from Arrowstorm Entertainment, Dead Gentleman productions, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Sword and The Sorcerer, Soloman Kane, Game of Thrones -- The Guild even counts at some level.  There can’t be too many.

That said the ones that have focused on RPGs have either been funny and campy or pretty mediocre.  The three Dungeons and Dragons films had potential and good moments in each, but none of them brought out the paranoid claustrophobic fear that I think adventuring in a dungeon would bring.  The best movie for this is actually an offbeat horror film called The Descent.  It’s about a group of female spelunkers that encounter ghouls in the uncharted caves they were exploring.  Good stuff.  They just needed to be in armor, leathers, or robes covered in moons and stars complete with a pointy floppy hat.

DL: What will fans of RPGs find particularly interesting in The Dangers of Daggermore?

HB: Hopefully, the old school tradition of it. My first gaming experience happened when there was little more than Space Invaders in the video arcades. The drip of water from ceilings, the listening at a wooden door set in the wall of a long stone corridor, the anticipation of the monster growling behind it, all stimulated distinct images in my mind as I played. Now, I’m just trying to recreate my mind’s eye for others to partake in the same experience that so captivated my imagination in those early days.

DL: What will there be in the film for film buffs, especially if they have little to no experience with RPGs?

HB: The Dangers of Daggermore is not intended for art-house aficionados, nor as a primer for learning how to play the game. Our intended audience is gamers and lovers of fantasy and horror films. We’re using the conventions of the genres to bring the game to life. Intense situations, misdirection, lightning quick decision making, and monsters that threaten more than just your life. As I tell the others, this is not a film looking to bring the character side out of D&D; this is a film looking to bring the D&D out of the characters. 

DL: Why choose the Knight, Elf and Wizard?

HB: Partially, it’s due to the acting talent available. Gabrielle Boni makes a great elf, Brandon McClean makes a noble knight (though he could have been a bard), and James Filanowski is an actual magician. 

The script was written with these archetypes as the names of the character to highlight the fact that this is a film about exploring a dungeon more than about the characters themselves. That said, the actors have found depth to their characters, motivations for entering such a dangerous place, and ways to incorporate these backgrounds into the actions they take in the face of danger.

There is a little vagueness to these character concepts as well, which enables flexibility to how we tell the story, given the budget we’re able to shoot with. Is Knight a paladin or a fighter? Is Elf a ranger/rogue/ or arcane archer? How high a level is wizard, a prestidigitator or a mage?

DL: Why have a dungeon instead of another typical (or atypical) RPG location?

HB: Lord of the Rings, Eragon, and Conan the Barbarian have all done wilderness adventures well.  Peter Jackson did large underground spaces like Moria or Goblin Town, well. They haven’t done dungeons.  None of the three Dungeons and Dragons movies have done a dungeon either. What do those guys have against dungeons?  I mean, it’s in the title of their movie!

In addition to The Descent, I think Indiana Jones films were good for bringing out aspects of delving into a dungeon. The Well of Souls is the place the characters seek in Daggermore and the name is a nod to Raiders. I bet Spielberg would have loved D&D growing up.

My favorite part of ET when I first saw it was the guys gaming at the kitchen table and ordering pizza. No joke. Spielberg deftly brought out the essence of playing D&D in such a brief scene.  Boy, I wish he’d just go full bore one last time on a D&D film. I’d camp out for that one.

DL: Combat encounters are common in RPGs but so are social encounters. What kind of social aspects, if any, will there be in the film?

HB: The gathering of the party is an interesting aspect of the film. Wizard needs a team to enter Daggermore with him, he’d never survive alone, but none would be foolhardy enough to join him unless they had reasons to enter the dungeon themselves. If we are fortunate enough to expand the film to a webseries then those mysteries will be revealed and the social interactions between the characters will deepen.

DL: Lastly, what is your favorite aspect of The Dangers of Daggermore -- at any stage of the project -- and why? What do you feel really makes this film stand out?

HB: Though it may take a nerd, a geek, or a dork to realize it, dungeons are cool!!!

We here at Dorkland would like to thank Hal for his time and wish him the best with The Dangers of Daggermore. If you would like to know more about the project (or would like to show it some support) be sure to check out its Kickstarter page -- in its last few days!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Dangers of Daggermore Kickstarter

Here's a Kickstarter project that blends two things I love together -- RPGs and movies. The Dangers of Daggermore project aims to create a film that is a good representation of what it is like to go dungeon delving in a typical RPG (in this case, 3.X/Pathfinder).

The general setting of this project is as mentioned above -- a pretty standard (fantasy) RPG. The main characters in this film are an elf, knight and wizard. There's a dungeon, monsters, combat, and hopefully lots of experience and loot. Most of the things you want in your adventure.

The rewards for the pledge tiers are where things get a bit different. It seems that the film will be presented as a web series and, thus, free to watch (though, correct me if I am wrong), so the rewards are not the film itself but tie-ins to it. These rewards escalate based on the pledge amount and each tier has two sides to it -- a gamer side and a film buff side. For example, the first tier (US$10) comes with character sheets and concept art of the main characters (the gamer side) and the shooting script (the film buff side).  As you go up the tiers you get more and more adventure material and more behind-the-scenes material.

On to the critique, I should start off by pointing out that the project has hit its funding goal -- as of this writing it is sitting right on it. It's done what it has set out to do, so I'll throw my guesstimates at what might have helped it get there (and what might have helped it get further). The funding goal is fairly low at US$1,000 -- it seems that this is to help produce a pilot episode, so that might be enough (I assume there is additional funding being put into the project). There is also the video on the page -- one that you should watch if you have any interest in this project. I typically skip the videos on Kickstarter pages and move straight into the text -- if you do that on this one you'll be missing out. The text on the page does give a general overview but it is far weaker than the video. The video is quite good in general and shows off some of the potential the film might have, it also shows that the project's crew does at least have a decent A/V setup (though there is some audio quality issues in one section). You also get a lot more information about the project and get to see the faces and personalities behind it -- that's all good. The pledge tiers, however, are not quite as attractive. The prices tend to be fairly high for what you get. If there was a bit more offered on each tier it would make them more enticing. As it stands, you basically are pledging more on the basis that you really want to see this project go through -- which does attest to the dedication of the backers who helped it reach its funding goal. Still, its a bit of a hard sell to the average joe.

If you would like to know more about The Dangers of Daggermore be sure to check out its Kickstarter page and be sure to watch the video.