Interview: Kyle Dekker & Jacob Gulliver – Fang & Talon Kickstarter

If you haven’t noticed, occasionally I stretch the boundaries of what falls into the niche of Game Knight Reviews. But when something catches my attention I try to cast a wide net to haul it in…

In recent years we’ve seen web series like The Guild and JourneyQuest and others come out of the gate swinging and gaining an audience on YouTube. Some of the great movie makers and actors of our day, like Joss Whedon (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog),  Thomas Jane (Laundry Day) and now Bryan Singer (H+) have even been testing the waters… And from a gaming standpoint I can imagine role-playing in these settings or even creating new shows based on gaming experiences and in-game stories.

Fang & Talon – http://kck.st/M6JW5W

So when I came across the Kickstarter project for Fang & Talon, I followed for a bit and eventually dove in with a pledge to hopefully see it succeed. It was the teaser video that pushed me over the edge honestly. The comedy of having a wizard wait until late in a battle to fire a Magic Missile and run away was not lost on me. (And please drop by their Kickstarter page and drop a few sheckles of your own in the pot… I would love to see where their story takes those characters!)

When I pledged my 20 silver, Kyle Dekker dropped me a message through Kickstarter and we chatted a bit. And before long they agreed to do an interview!

So here you have it… My chat with Kyle Dekker & Jacob Gulliver of the team behind Fang & Talon.

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First of all, thanks for agreeing to do an interview. I’m really pulling for you guys to achieve funding
for Fang & Talon!

Q: The success of shows like The Guild on the web really opened the door for a number of creative shows to hit the web. And JourneyQuest and Dorkness Rising have shown that comedic fantasy done well can attract a small but cult-like following. How will Fang & Talon differentiate itself from the other shows that have paved the way?

Thanks for this! We love telling people about this project and are always ready to answer questions about it. We really have enjoyed reading your site; it is packed with tons of awesome gaming info.

We have The Guild and JourneyQuest to thank for this project being feasible. They have shown if you put out a quality piece of entertainment for the gamer community, they will watch it and they will support it. Each of those shows has a very unique style – The Guild is homage to the MMO gamer crowd and JourneyQuest has a very strong tabletop feel. The Guild and Dorkness Rising aren’t fully in the fantasy setting; they are about the people engaging in that setting. We want to create an in depth, tangible world with characters that are believable and can interact in ways that are both funny and dramatic. All the best films have a little bit of everything, action, comedy, romance, drama, etc. We’d like to make something that’s not confined to one or the other, but can make you laugh one minute, and pull your heartstrings the next. Another element of F&T you will notice are the intense and dramatic fight scenes we are putting together. The fight in the teaser you see is a very small scale version of the fights you will see in the final product. We have really big shoes to fill following these great shows but we think our unique approach will provide yet another awesome piece of entertainment.

Q: What are you most excited to share with others about the series? If you had to sum it up in a few words, what would they be?

We can’t wait to share these characters with you. The audience will be able to identify with them and their highs and lows. This isn’t a story about heroes and villains it is a story about people. F&T is 3 mercenaries who are just trying to make ends meet in a crazy world while a bunch of lords, monsters and more get in their way.

Fang & Talon – Cast

Q: Filming the clips for the Kickstarter project page video looks like a lot of fun. How long did it take for you to get those few scenes recorded? What kind of equipment are you using as cameras? Some of the shots looked a little shaky, will you be using a steady-cam?

Filming the teaser video was a complete blast! We shot everything stretched over 5 hours or so due to the extreme heat of the summer. We are filming the series on a Canon 60D DSLR and almost everything in the teaser was handheld. The handheld look works really well for certain things like fights, where you need to be moving to capture the action. A static camera in a fight scene tends to make it look less dramatic and staged. Admittedly we likely used a bit too much handheld in the teaser. On a tight schedule it was more efficient to adjust the shot without having to adjust a tripod every time. Stabilizers are really useful for certain things and we do have a low end model which will probably be used for some shots. We are working hard to keep the series on a budget and a good steady rig that can adjust focus and exposure on the fly is around $1,000. We should be able to do some nice stable chase scenes and the like with a wide lens. Steady shots take more time to set up and the schedule for the teaser did not allow for that. The bottom line is with a budget of nearly 50 times that of the teaser trailer the finished product will look fantastic.

Q: The costumes looked great for those initial clips. Are you making them yourselves or do you have help?

Most of the costumes we made ourselves. We want to create a unique look that fits in the genre but has its own personal flair. We have a skilled team of designers and craftspeople, including Kyle’s wife, Amy. We will purchase items that we cannot make for sake of time and money.

Q: How long will each episode of F&T be? How long will it take to film each episode? How many episodes will the first season include?

Each episode of F&T will run for 8-10 minutes each. We have planned 10 episodes for the first season so the final product will be the length of a feature film.

Q: How long have you guys known each other? Do you guys play RPGs together? What do you play? Any gaming stories to tell?

The core group of F&T has known each other for over 3 years. Director Jacob, producer Kyle, actors Max and Tom all play in a weekly RPG night at Kyle’s house. We’ve played games together in the World of Darkness setting, Star Wars, Castles and Crusades as well as some indie games like Dogs in the Vineyard (indy games are amazing). Kyle has met and gamed with several high profile gamers including the core crew of Castles and Crusades and Gary Gygax.

Fang & Talon – Cast 2

Q: As gamers, are any of the scripts for the series based on your RPG experiences?

There is some inspiration from tabletop RPGs. You certainly love the genre and there will be some recognizable archetypes recognizable to gamers. The focus of F&T is on the characters and the decisions they make throughout the series.

Q: The locations are gorgeous where you shot the initial footage. How long did it take to scout locations? Any challenges in shooting in those places?

All of the locations in the teaser are no more than a half hour drive from where we live. The Twin Cities are full of beautiful pockets of forests, parks and rivers ideal for shooting a good looking fantasy show. Scouting locations can take as little as 2-3 hours or an entire day. Many of the locations require lots of walking and climbing as you can’t just drive right up to the area you are shooting. On hot days we have to be careful to pack plenty of water and keep or cast and crew hydrated.

Q: How many people will you need for your crew to help shoot the series?

Jacob tends to run a skeleton crew of 2-4 people. He likes to use people whose opinions he trusts and are very skilled at their jobs. He prefers this over larger crews all trying to do something but will ultimately end up sitting around doing nothing. For big scenes we will need many more people for makeup, food, water and continuity.

Q: If there is one question you weren’t asked that you’d like to answer, what would that question and answer be?

Q: When will series be filmed and where/when can I watch it?

We will film F&T in September and October and the first episodes will be available on YouTube just a few weeks after that.

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I have to offer a sincere thanks to Kyle & Jacob as well as well wishes to Maxwell and Tom on the journey they’ve chosen to undertake. Hopefully their project will be fully funded and we’ll get to see the adventures of three mercenaries just trying to get by!

For more about Fang & Talon

Thanks again guys!

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