Monday, July 14, 2014

The Great Kingdom Documentary Q&A

The fine folks behind the Dave Arneson / Gary Gygax / early TSR documentary, The Great Kingdom (facebook page), took the time to answer a few questions about their film and its production. The primary filming is complete, but the filmmakers need our support to finish production. They created a KickStarter campaign to fund the final Production of The Great Kingdom. I really would like to see this film and have made a pledge. Watch the trailer and decide for yourself.



Filmmaker Questions & Answers

CH: Chris Haifley (director)
AP: Andrew Pascal (producer)

How long have you been working on the The Great Kingdom?

CH: We have been in production on The Great Kingdom for almost year. If you count the years playing, we've been working on this project for 30 years. It's been an incredible, rewarding if not heartbreaking journey.


THIS IS THE REMARKABLE TRUE LIFE STORY OF THE RISE AND FALL OF GARY GYGAX, DAVE ARNESON AND THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE CREATION OF THE EPIC ROLE-PLAYING GAME, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS.


What was the most challenging obstacle in filming The Great Kingdom?

CH: One of the most challenging obstacles in any production is logistics - getting equipment, crew and schedules to match up with the busy lives of our interviewees. A challenge that we love to overcome.

AP: We're a small crew (3-5 people usually) and so everyone puts on a different hat at different during production. The hero of our production is James Sprattley. At any given moment, he is a Camera Operator, Grip, Make-Up Person, Producer, Craft Service, Driver, etc. It's been challenging, but great fun.


Editing transforms a pile of footage into a compelling story. But, there are many hard-core gaming/history buffs that might be interested in seeing behind the curtain. Is there any pledge level or possible future plans to release outtakes, extras, raw footage?

AP: We've discussed this only preliminarily. Of course we would love to show every bit of interview footage that we've filmed. Perhaps a website where everyone can access the interviews is something to consider. Paul Stormberg, one of our experts, has told us many times that what we are doing should be archived...these are testimonials that have never been recorded. We agree. It's something everyone should have access to. I would like to add that our website (http://www.thegreatkingdom.com) has a bunch of "behind-the-scenes" pics that might be of interest to anyone who would like to know how we work and who we are interviewing.


THIS IS THE STORY OF FAMILIES, BOTH BLOOD AND PERSONAL BOND, AFFECTED BY THE SUCCESS OF THE GAME, A GAME THAT BROUGHT JOY TO MILLIONS AND HEARTBREAK TO ITS CREATORS.

What time period does the film focus on?

CH: The time period that The Great Kingdom focuses on is from 1972 -1985 - from the inception of the game through the point when Gary Gygax is fired from his own Company, TSR. We picked that timeline because we felt the flashpoint of the story happened between those years. The story of Dungeons and Dragons is a big story, bigger than a feature length film. We didn't want to be the definitive documentary about Dungeons and Dungeons. There's a compelling story about the triumph and heartache that came with the development of the game - this is the film we wanted to make.


Did you interview any of the iconic TSR artists?

CH: We have not interviewed any of the original TSR artists. There is a core group of interviewees that support our origin story. We are focusing on those interviews right not now. If we had the opportunity we would have interviewed the great Dave Sutherland (Dungeon Masters Guide, Monster Manual). He was there at the very beginning of our story.


WHAT HAPPENS TO THESE INDIVIDUALS AS THEY WEATHER THROUGH THE SUCCESS, THE EXCESS, THE BETRAYALS, THE DOWNFALLS AND EVENTUAL REDEMPTIONS, ALL TAKES PLACE IN THE GREAT KINGDOM. 


Do you have a total number of people interviewed for the documentary?

AP: We don't have a large number of interviewees as we wanted our story to be intimate and personal. Having too many people would have been confusing to any one watching the film. 12-15 people at most for any decent documentary and that's been tough to follow as there have been so many great people that we've interviewed already and there are still a couple of hold-outs. We'd like to keep the list a mystery for now as there are a few surprises we'd like to share when the film is released. The pictures on our website will give a glimpse of some of the people we've interviewed.


After you reach funding goal, when might the film be finished and released?

AP: We are hoping to have something to show by Gary Con next year (March 2015). If the stars align, we would love to be finished sooner, but that would be our projected date. We felt that it was our small way of giving thanks to the wonderful people in that community. After all, it all started in Lake Geneva.


Any thing else you'd like to say?

AP: Please support our efforts on KS (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/720223857/the-great-kingdom). We need as many people to get the word out as we can get. We are so excited to tell this story. It's a story for the ages, something every true fan of documentaries, D&D, RPGs and games in general would be interested to watch.


Andrew Pascal, Jim Gavin, Chris Haifley and James Sprattley 
(the filmmakers)

Thanks guys, and gook luck!

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