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Damsels and Dragons: An Interview with Writer Eric Campbell

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Full disclosure: Interviewing your friends can be a lot of fun, especially when they’re longtime friends who you share many of the same hobbies with. Eric Campbell (IMDB) and I have been gaming buddies for more years than I care to count, and we’ve done it all. Pen and paper role playing games. Board games. Card games. Miniatures games. And yes, even live-action role playing games, or LARP.

Eric CampbellIt’s that last one that feeds his latest passion project, Damsels and Dragons. And while he’s tapped the vast ocean of his geekdom for projects in the past, most notably writing episodes of Geek Therapy for Comediva, this is one web series that appeals to the geekiest of gamer geeks. I managed to pin down Eric to squeeze some information from him about the upcoming series, which sounds a lot messier than it actually is…

RBL: So, let’s start off with the basics. What is Damsels and Dragons?

EC: Damsels is a wicked fantasy/action/comedy Web Series that follows the birth of a brand new All Girl Live Action Role Playing group and their struggle to work together under the shadow of a rival elitist LARP group that wants to see them fail. And stuff.

RBL: How did the idea for the web series come about?

EC: America Young and April Wade approached me about writing them a script a few years ago. America knew I’ve been a long time table topper and that I’ve LARPed before. Both of them thought it would be a fun subject to play with. We decided to shoot something that was short film length and chop it up into episodes. So we threw it together and when everything was done, we weren’t sure we would do anything with it ever again. But then here comes Jessica Mills of Awkward Embraces fame and once she caught a whiff of it, she pitched the idea of jumping in, going all out and doing a Season 2. I really liked the idea of having a second go at it. It’s an original idea and it was a ton of fun to write the first time around. So I threw together a draft that got some folks excited and here we are!

eric campbellRBL: Why an all-female group of LARPers instead of a mixed group?

EC: Because I long to be like Joss Whedon and write about empowered, bad ass women. Actually, the truth is much more mundane. Originally, the LARP group was mixed. But after our casting sessions for the original series, we realized that all our favorite auditions were the girls. So we figured, lets just make it an all girl group and run with it. I think it was a great move, especially considering the fact that it feeds the theme of the entire “second season”.

RBL: The first season, which has its own channel on YouTube as well as its own site, clocks in at 8 episodes totaling about 25 minutes worth of gamer geek fun. Is the plan to stick to that same format for the second season?

EC: Not so sure if we will just yet, we’re actually still talking that over. Right now, there’s a ton of material and this project is easily triple the size of the original. I should also note, that while this is being referred to as Season 2, it’s actually going to be considered the start of the series. “Season 1” was a fun little experiment. This baby is a full blown episodic web series with higher production value, a stunt team and a seriously talented Director. We’re also recasting the roles and bringing in some power house actors. Oh yeah. It’s gonna be good.

RBL: Tell us a little about the crew behind Damsels and Dragons. Who’s bringing your words to life in the new season?

eric campbellEC: He who is called Greg Aronowitz shall be Directing Damsels. I’m excited as hell to work with him again. Our first project together was when he was doing his award winning set design for Felicia Day’s Dragon Age: Redemption. I was an extra. I saw him in the green room and was like “Hey.” He was all like, “Hi.” Pretty awesome. He’s been a driving force behind some of the biggest web projects out there, as well as a creative force on some major Hollywood productions. If you don’t believe me, set aside some time one evening, make yourself a nice healthy dinner and enjoy thumbing through his IMDB credits. Then there’s our lovely Producer/Actress America Young, who the world has been getting to know as the adorable Geek Therapist on Comediva’s Geek Therapy web series, as well as Stan Lee’s World of Heroes. Jessica Mills, the creator and face of the award nominated Awkward Embraces web series, will be lending her comic genius to the mix as well. Oh, and I’ll be in it. Not as an extra though, I’ll be in it for real and stuff.

RBL: What can you say about the second season? Will there be new characters, or the same group from the first season? What monster will they be facing this time?

EC: We’re going to be tackling some compelling issues that I think have begun to surface in Geek Culture. Obviously it’ll focus on girl geeks, but not in the way you might think. With Geek stuff trending like crazy, there’s a divide that’s begun to grow, over what is “authentic geek” and what’s B.S. . I think you see this kinda stuff every time something erupts into a commercial success and Geek culture has been building steam for a long time now. Geek girls in particular are coming out of the wood work and staking a flag in geek culture and something I’ve noticed is that a lot of them are taking flak for it. So we’re going to dig into that issue with the help of our villains, a rival LARP group called the Bone Shards. They’re old school LARPers and aren’t very welcoming to a “noob” group trying to get in on their hobby. We’ll have a new line up of characters, though April and America will be reprising their roles from the first round.

RBL: How is the web series encouraging those who might not know about LARP to give it a try?

eric campbellEC: I hope so man. I think LARPing is often misunderstood by the public at large and even its own demographic: geeks. It’s really a bunch of closely knit folks that want to live in the adventure, the same way we all did when a dinosaur was chasing us on the play ground during recess. It’s a brilliant and fearless expression of the inner child, in my opinion. LARP groups have to be pretty protective because of how easy it can be taken out of context and warped by that massive chunk of the population that enjoys judging a book by its cover. Some of the most together and mature people I’ve met are LARPers. Some of them have the most amazing weapons and garb… it can seriously blow your damn mind how bad ass some LARPers look when geared up. For my own part, I had a blast playing Changeling: The Dreaming as a LARP a few years back. I encourage everyone to try it out. Odds are, you’ve probably already done it and don’t even know it.

RBL: Last but not least, when should we expect Felicia Day to announce that Damsels and Dragons will be a part of her Geek and Sundry channel?

EC: Hah! Oh my eyes are filling up with stars. Well, I’m just the writer so I can’t make any kind of comment on that, beyond “wouldn’t that be cool as hell!?” Geek and Sundry has been an avalanche of fun since that channel launched, so we’ll have that in common. Word.

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