Occasionally a project comes along that is so cool, that you find yourself trying not to get your hopes up too much. Comic-Con is a great place to discover fantasy books, series, and movies that fit this profile.
Recently, a feature film that somehow flew under the radar premiered its first trailer in Hall H at the San Diego Comic-Con, and now I can’t spend 10 minutes on Facebook without hearing friends rave about it.
The film is Knights of Badassdom, and was made over the course of summer 2010 in Spokane, Washington by director Joe Lynch and a talented dream cast that has everyone drooling.
How It Came Together
Knights of Badassdom seems to be the result of a bunch of happy intersections. A great script by writers Matt Wall and Kevin Dreyfuss attracted an A-list cast of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and comedy performers, and the directing talent of Joseph Lynch.
Mr. Lynch became the stuff of legends when his 2007 directorial debut, Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, a straight-to-DVD sequel, became one of the best-reviewed horror films in a decade.
His involvement, and the strong script, attracted the participation of Summer Glau of Firefly and The Sarah Connor Chronicles fame; Ryan Kwanten, the Australian actor made famous by his co-starring role on True Blood; Steve Zahn, known for both his excellent horror and comedy performances in such projects as Joy Ride and Sahara; Danny Pudi from the hit series Community; Jimmi Simpson from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia among many other comedy series; Margarita Levieva from Adventureland and The Lincoln Lawyer; and Peter Dinklage, a co-star on Game of Thrones, and the recent Emmy winner for Best Supporting Actor for his work on that show.
It is a ridiculously pedigreed cast for a small independent comedy-horror film. The actors were lured by the chance to work with a great script, perform with each other, and hang out in the woods for a few weeks.
Mr. Lynch describes the film as an adventure movie, with horror and comedy elements. Set in the world of LARPing, or Live-Action-Role-Play, the film follows the adventures of a small group of LARPers who accidentally summon a succubus while taking part in a mock battle in the woods of Washington.
For those of you scratching your heads over LARPing, it is basically the physical playing out of popular role-playing games.
Instead of simply verbalizing the character’s actions, LARPers act out what each character would do, in real time, in an agreed upon real environment.
Full costumes are worn, participants speak in the language or dialect of the characters, and battles are waged using prop (usually foam) weapons. LARPing events can take place with just a few people or thousands, and can last anywhere from an afternoon to multiple days.
There are LARPing groups, associations, and venues worldwide, and people from every walk of life participate. The rules of each LARP event are determined by the game it is based upon, and can be adjusted by the head committee of each event.
The LARPing experience is one of very intense, committed improvisation, and can be quite physically demanding. The process of creating a story, or indeed a whole world, with hundreds of other people is a large part of the draw.
Comic-Con and Beyond
Mr. Lynch called upon the LARPAlliance, and directors Rick McCoy and Adrienne Grody, to serve as consultants on the film. He was invested in creating a LARP event that was accurate in tone and action, and never condescending.
Using real members of the LARP community as extras, the event created by the filmmakers has received an enthusiastic thumbs-up from LARPers who have seen portions of the film. Hall-H at Comic-Con, which seats 6500 people, was filled to standing room only capacity for the Knights of Badassdom panel.
Many members of the audience were LARPers who had participated in the film, and who had driven down from Washington state and northern California, eschewing roadside assistance cover, to show their support.
Though only one member of the cast had ever LARPed prior to filming, all of the actors spoke about how much they enjoyed it, remarking on how much fun it was to act opposite LARPers, who were completely committed to their characters and the world they had built.
Though Knights of Badassdom does not have an official release date yet, it is clear that it is only a matter of time. Judging by the enthusiastic response of LARPers and non-LARPers alike at Comic-Con, including a request to watch the trailer again, it is not too much to hope for a wide theatrical release.
Any studio would be smart to distribute the film, as it has a built in audience, and great crossover appeal. We will just have to hope it is truly as great as its title.
Until then, we must content ourselves with daily updates from the LARP Alliance and Joseph Lynch’s informative website.