indieWIRE's 15th anniversary series at the 92YTribeca comes to a close this week with a screening co-hosted by our parent company SnagFilms. As the curator of this little program, I invited Snag to choose a film from its library that they felt was particularly strong, and couldn't be happier with the one they have selected. I saw "Darkon" a few years back after it premiered at the SXSW Film Festival. I was immediately struck by the way it treated its subjects, live action role players who dress up in medieval outfits, with utter seriousness. Of course, the movie has certain comedic elements for anyone whose sense of normalcy exists outside of its subjects' point-of-view. But "Darkon" mainly succeeds at dismantling any preconceived judgement of those subjects and widens its focus to become a fascinating portrait of outsiders finding a way to belong, and holding onto it at all costs.
But don't take my word for it. David Wain, who has been doing interviews recently for the 10th anniversary of "Wet Hot American Summer," became a fan of "Darkon" when he came onboard to direct "Role Models," a studio comedy partly inspired by the documentary. I dropped a line to Wain for his thoughts on the film. Check them out below, and then make some room in your calendar for Wednesday's "Darkon" screening at the 92YTribeca, where the directors will participate in a Q&A.
When did you first hear about "Darkon"?
As I recall, when I first signed on to direct "Role Models," people before me had watched the movie and found inspiration, so I checked it out too!
In what ways did "Darkon" influence "Role Models"?
We loved the whole portrait of regular people living regular lives who jump into this world of adventure and excitement and drama in live action role playing. It really made me “get” it.
What do you find appealing or unique about the characters in the film?
Their commitment and feeling for the world was infectious. I hoped that we could harness that feeling through a comedic lens in "Role Models."
How did you research the world of Live Action Role Playing (LARP)?
We had a LARP advisor, Adrianne Grady, who connected us to the world, the people, the rules, everything. She met with the actors and worked with them individually too.
Have you ever participated in LARP activities or visited a game?
I visited a couple of events during pre-production, but was too shy to really participate. Now that the movie’s done I’d love to do it again!