SYNOPSIS: In November of 2013, Jupiter Ridge Ministries agreed to fund a cautionary movie about the spiritual dangers of roleplaying games. Undaunted by their lack of experience or small budget, producers Harmony Hope and Brady Bryant hired a crew, cast their movie, and began production, only to discover that nothing would be as easy as they assumed.
This is a movie unlike any other: a feature film shot behind the scenes of another, totally different film production. We hired some of Seattle’s best comedy improvisers as our leads and a cast and crew willing to play original characters in our film while simultaneously performing their jobs in that other movie.
The result is a comedy about how far people will go in the name of their passions: filmmakers who will do anything to get the shot, churchgoers who will stop at nothing to save souls, and gamers who will fight tooth and nail to defend their hobby. We’ve all met zealots who take their obsessions too far. Now, we invite you find out what happens when they collide, in our newest and boldest comedy, Attacking the Darkness.
BACKGROUND: In 2014 we brought you an adaptation [ VHX | YouTube ] of a famous graphic novel about the evils of tabletop roleplaying games, a comic book so powerful that it helped fuel the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. The film was a big success for us, but it also raised many questions among our audience. Were roleplaying games really satanic? What did we believe? Why tell this story?
Now, we’ve returned to Kickstarter with a film, three years in the making, that explores some of our own perspectives on those questions -- all while raising new ones about faith, the leaders in whom we put our trust, and whether roleplaying games are truly the devil’s work.
As filmmakers with almost two decades of experience in independent film, we’ve seen it all: inexperienced producers, blown budgets, and how charismatic leaders can cultivate a cult-like devotion to their personal vision, no matter the cost. Everyone in indie film has horror stories to tell. So do many churchgoers. And more than a few gamers.
When we were given the opportunity to work on a genuine film about the evils of tabletop roleplaying games, we were thrilled. Here was a chance to explore exactly why some people believe that roleplaying games are the work of the devil, to represent their beliefs as accurately and faithfully as possible, and to let the audience decide for themselves.
But then we had a brainstorm. Maybe we and the people seeking to end roleplaying gaming weren’t that different after all. After all, making an independent film is a lot like participating in a short-term cult. And from that seed Attacking the Darkness, a film about the fictional making of a non-existent anti-RPG movie, was born.
From our perspective, the best comedy takes big risks, speaks the truth, and reveals new ways of seeing the world. It even often offends. And if you are offended by foul language, religious irreverence, homosexual relationships, roleplaying gaming, personal faith journeys, book burnings, infidelity, drug use, hip leather bracelets, or creepy cult leaders, this film is guaranteed to deliver.
For the rest of us, at long last, Attacking the Darkness is ready to be unleashed on the world. With religion, roleplaying games, and independent filmmaking set on a collision course, what could possibly go wrong?
A project like this—a film shot in between setups on the set of another film—required serious innovation to pull off. How could we complete a feature in only nine days, and without slowing down the production of the other film, who had agreed to host us on their set?
After several months of intense story and character development, plus an extensive casting process, we had created a detailed, beat-by-beat outline of the entire story. In addition to our fake producers (Lauren O’Neill and Brian S. Lewis), we had convinced several local actors to take on crew positions for the other film’s team. For example, Lisa Coronado, who plays “Lucy” in Attacking the Darkness, agreed to sign on to the position of craft services on the other film, all so that we could shoot scenes for this project while she literally did the work required for that crew position, keeping two film crews fed throughout long shooting days.
And then, on the first day of production, we started filming both movies. At the same time. After completing takes (shots from one particular angle) on the other project to the director’s satisfaction, that show’s assistant director would call us in for “one more for ATD”, wherein our cast members would do everything they could to show how not to make a movie: interrupting takes, arguing with the director, and trying their hardest to make somebody crack up and break character.
Between those staged set pieces and documentary-style interviews, we were able to get everything we needed to tell our story. Then we just had to put all the pieces together. The process of creating an improvisational comedy—even a meticulously structured one like this—meant discovering new and alternative story beats while filming, especially as real crew members from the other movie rose to the challenge and created fully dimensional characters for this project. We shot enough footage for two complete features!
Thankfully, Jaya Productions stepped in to bring their reality television and documentary experience to the edit. Once they had finished a cut that told a complete story, our producers Ben Dobyns and Chris Ode sat down with the edit to get the comedy and the theology balanced. From there, Impossible Acoustic mixed the sound and we assembled all of the pieces into a finished feature film.
Normally we crowdfund our films before shooting them, but this project was such a secret that we couldn’t risk letting the word get out. And once it was complete, we realized that we had something special on our hands. As the audience at our 2015 Gen Con Indy test screening said, it’s “the funniest film you’ve made since The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, if not your funniest film ever,” and “a total hit, absolutely hilarious” and “a surprisingly honest and touching story about filmmaking, faith, and human connection.”
Now the film is complete, but we need to raise additional funds to create DVDs and Blu-rays, to get the film onto digital platforms like iTunes and Amazon, and to build the awareness that this project deserves.
Your support will help us get this movie over the finish line. And because the film is already finished, we can get started immediately on authoring, replicating, signing, and shipping rewards.
$1 – TIP JAR. This is a great way to follow backer-only updates. We'll also give you access to our post-campaign store in BackerKit, where movies like The Gamers and Dark Dungeons will be available.
$12 – A DRM-free 1080p DIGITAL DOWNLOAD. Fulfilled by VHX, this file can be streamed or downloaded worldwide with no restrictions. Experience the complete film, special features, and unique commentaries. Includes all previous rewards.
$25 – The region-free DVD (NTSC) contains the film, special features, deleted scenes, commentaries, and as much content as we can squeeze onto the disc. Our first stretch goal, if reached, will allow you to upgrade at no cost to a 1080p Blu-ray disc. Includes all previous rewards.
$50 – THIS IMMERSIVE INTERACTIVE STORY is a devilish puzzle for only the most daring players. Experience the story of Attacking the Darkness with your friends. You'll each take on a character from Harmony Hope's movie as you attempt to save yourselves from the evils of roleplaying games. This tract contains everything you need to safely simulate an encounter with roleplaying games, demonic possession, and ultimate salvation. Based on and licensed from the Demon Hunters sourcebook, this adventure will be designed by Dead Gentlemen Productions. Stretch goals, if reached, can unlock more accessories for this unique anti-gaming experience, including an exclusive miniature figurine, an overhead map of the gaming dungeon, and polyhedral stones of chance. Includes all previous rewards.
$100 – "RIDGED: for His pleasure" T-SHIRT. Featuring the Jupiter Ridge Ministries logo and a full size faith statement, you're sure to turn heads in this swanky black t-shirt. Includes all previous rewards.
This is really important, so read carefully:
We will charge for all shipping after the campaign in our BackerKit surveys. In order for your rewards to ship, you will need to pay shipping fees at that time. Do NOT add shipping fees to your pledge now.
- EU Backers: we are using a UK fulfillment services to keep your costs down. Expect your total shipping cost for the DVD reward level, including 20% VAT, to be under £9.
- Other International Backers: most of you can expect to pay less than $8.00 in BackerKit for base shipping on the $25 reward. That fee does NOT cover any import taxes that you might owe.
- Domestic US Backers: expect to pay less than $5.00 in BackerKit for base shipping on the $25 reward.
We are One Good Idea LLC, a company with one good idea. Our parent company is Zombie Orpheus Entertainment.
The story was created while totally not under the influence by Christian Doyle and Andy Dopieralski, then written by Ben Dobyns, Christian Doyle, and Chris Ode, who also produced. It is Christian Doyle’s directing debut.
The film also features appearances from the patient and graceful cast and crew of the film set that hosted us, who dedicated extra time and energy to simultaneously playing new characters in this project.
We have been fan-funded and creator distributed since 2010 and appreciate the opportunity to release another unique and funny entertainment. Thank you for your support!
Risks and challenges
As a finished film, the risks and challenges are incredibly low. We've completed and fulfilled many Kickstarter campaigns successfully, have our authoring and replication workflow down to a science, use BackerKit for pledge management, and have done this dance five times before.
Major risks include delays, especially due to the number of projects we're releasing this year, as well as the small but real potential that various offended parties might decide to protest the release of this picture.
As always, we will communicate clearly and quickly with backers if/when timelines or release plans require adjustment.
We will be racing to have DVDs and BLURAYS complete by Gen Con Indy. Depending on manufacturing timelines, we may have discs ready for the convention before we can ship rewards. In that case we would allow backers attending Gen Con to pick up their rewards at the convention, then ship the remaining rewards upon returning to Seattle.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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