A couple of weeks ago I was walking to a training course in Hobart, Tasmania and I saw a sign that captured my interest. It made me turn around, walk back and take a photo of it. It was entitled “The Games Maestro” a D&D Musical Web Series… It really does my head in when coincidences like this occur and so I decided then and there that I needed to get to the bottom of this and interview these people for the blog. Emailing them got a quick response and I was able to set a time up pretty quickly at the building where the sign was.
If you follow me on Google+ you will know that I shared this poster up there and a few people watched it and got in on the action. I hope this blog encourages more of you to do the same in the near future as when I got around to it I really had a good time. It was not quite what I was expecting but then again how can you know what to expect from a D&D Musical Web Series? I sat down with two of the stars and one of the crew to ask them some hard hitting questions. Well I would have if I had prepared any but the trio bounced off one another so well that I got some really good material to share with you all. So thanks to Craig M Wood (He plays the GM, wrote it, director, producer and all round talented guy), Michelle Wood (Yes they are married and have a little one – Michelle is producer, director and many many other things) and Matthew Dobson (who plays the meta-gaming greedy rogue and dealt with a lot of the props etc. behind the scenes). I am sorry, I should have gotten a photo with you while I was there so instead I am going to have to steal them from your site www.thegamesmaestro.com!
Firstly, I want to be up front about the following. The web series has not lapsed as some of the people that took a look at it thought as there has been no new episode for a while. In fact, dear readers, rejoice! While I was there I found out that the season comprises of eleven episodes and they have all been shot! That is right, they are all coming. So why has there been a big gap since the last one? The pilot was filmed in 2012 which followed on with a successful crowd-funding in 2013 which allowed them to do the filming between March and across May to June. The thing is that the entire crew is completely new to film and they did not realise the time and effort that goes in to the post production. Not to mention that this project is their personal project and so all the work that has to get done on it is done in their own time when they can find it. And believe me, these people are busy people.
So, now the good news is out there let us find out about how all this started. You see, when I watched it I found that it was different to what I expected as I had watched series on the web before but you could tell that it was a group of gaming buddies that just got a video camera and thought “What the heck” which is great and all but this one has production quality. I wondered where that came from and this was answered pretty quickly in the interview. These people are creative people (actors, artists, singers and the like) who did not have massive experience playing RPG’s. There are a couple of people that were experienced in gaming but on the whole some of the cast were not deep immersive role-players but they saw the RPG factor as a device through which they could tell a story about the GM and the players at his table.
This idea that they are using the game to tell their story then leads on to the realisation of “Hey, that is why there is so much effort here!” They had a vision and the script from the start. They used a warehouse to setup and shoot the green screen material (with a 5 metre green screen!). There are crane shots and professional equipment that makes this an amateur operation in a professional way. The same goes for the time that it is taking to get them out. Sure it would be easy just to upload the footage and be done with it but they have a benchmark of quality that they are going to achieve. I would really, really love to see more of it but you know what? I am glad they have set themselves that benchmark because it means a damn good series in the longer run.
The central idea to the series was the idea of having the GM’s universe coming to life and him reflecting on it. The singing is the thoughts of the GM given voice in much the same way as Chicago is the thoughts of Roxy from that movie. In real life you see that none of the players respond or sing with the GM and that is because these are his thoughts, happenings in his mind that are given voice for the story. Sure, the other actors do sing but only when they are in the form of their characters, and even these songs are the GM’s perception of how the character is being brought to life in his game by his players. Of course there will be times in this that what is going on in the players real life creeps in to affect the GM’s Universe but essentially this is how the GM is visualising the activity of the game.
In each of the episodes of The Games Maestro there are two plots being told. There is the plot of the D&D game and the story of the group of friends that are sitting around playing it. In the future episodes there will be focus on the lives that they lead outside of the game and how it has led them to this game. I like this idea, a lot. It is similar to the central theme of The Guild web series where the stories of the players of the game are really the focus of the show rather than that of the in game stories that their characters play.
To be fair there would be no justice without me giving the hat tip that these three people gave to Justin “Pyrate” O’Newton who has had a great deal to do with the artistic direction and style of the episodes. He is still working out of love for the project to get the post-production to continue ticking over out of his own time. The design and look of so much of this series is done by Pyrate. Though he was not present at the interview Michelle, Craig and Matt sure made it nice and clear that they really appreciate his work to keep the project on its legs.
So how do we get this great little show out faster? It as always comes down to a time thing and in the old saying, time is money. If there is anyone out there that would like to further offer sponsorship to speed up the completion of the post production material then please get in contact with them. They have a section on their website that is dedicated for sponsors and if we can start sharing around the episodes they do have then we can generate more interest and throughput on their site. Could offer some nice flow on traffic as more of the material becomes available. I noted on their site that they have a merchandise link too but on the page it says the T-shirts are currently unavailable. Mind you if you want one then email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them. If lots of us want them (and I know I do – they look cool) then I am sure they will organise some and that will put money in their pockets too! Maybe they will get around to releasing a module of the in-game material at the end of the season too…
The funny thing about how I just happened across the poster is not the only funny coincidence. You see, I am not the only one that has done that. There was a Canadian gentleman who is ingrained in the making of the Web Series “Standard Action” that happened to walk past that same poster and become great friends with the crew of The Games Maestro! The Games Maestro interviewees really stressed for everyone to go watch his web series as well! Got to love collaboration.
I have not embedded any of the videos from the series in this blog because I really want the readers of RPG Knights to share the love and go to their site to link to the videos. The Games Maestro website can be found here; the GM Webseries channel can be found here. Going a little further afield Craig and Michelle run CMW Music out of Hobart, Tasmania which you can find the website here for. While I was there the group had to go straight on to do a rehearsal or a recording for a new project they are working on musically called PC-Vox. I looked it up here and quite liked it so if you are interested, take a look at that too! Then you can find the Standard Action website here and their YouTube here.
Please share their material out among your social media and if you like it then “like” it or +1 it or whatever you need to do to show the love! These people just want to have their stuff watched and I have to say that it is a good watch! If we get enough people looking then maybe we can help them out with another sponsor to get the remainder of the material making its way a little faster to us and I think that would be awesome. So share the love RPG Knights readers and get some entrepreneurs who are promoting gaming a helping hand. After all it is a D&D musical and I know that my gaming group sings all the time (badly) so we should at least support those that can do it well! Keep rolling!