Interview: Mike Peterson Director of Lloyd the Conqueror
This week is all about Lloyd the Conqueror here at Larping.org. We had a chance to chat with Mike Peterson, the director of the film, to answer some of our questions about the film.
Larping.org:What made you want to do a film about larping?
Mike Peterson: At the time we began writing the script, LARP was something that had not really been explored on film in any way. It seemed like a really fun world, and my co-writer worked with a bunch of larpers when he was a video game tester. It was a fun, new world and seemed close enough to my own experience with playing D&D and general interest in fantasy novels, that it would be possible to explore this world in a comedic setting while showing how much fun it would be to let down your hair and fight your friends with foam weapons. It was a great learning experience, and I have a general interest in ‘outisder’ or subcultural groups in my writing and filmmaking. And the best part is, is that I’ve since got to meet so many really great LARPers at the various screenings of the film, who’ve really been really kind, and welcoming and shared so many great stories about their experiences with the LARP.
Larping.org:What were your biggest influences for this film?
Mike Peterson: The main ones would have been 80s comedies, Monty Python, sport movies and Ridley Scott films, which I used to specifically to inform the battle sequences. You know, but it’s the dollar store version of Ridley Scott just due to budgetary limitations but I think I was able to capture some of that same sense of danger, excitement and intensity of combat, hopefully while still keeping the humor intact, during the battle scenes, especially the final battle.
Larping.org: How did you learn about larping for the film? Did you take from documentaries (Darkon, Monster Camp, etc.), did you get to watch any actual larping or did you have any larp consultants on hand?
Mike Peterson: I spoke with a number of LARP groups and bought their rule books and studied those. I also definitely watched Monster Camp and Darkon. And you know there is so much stuff on the internet with people filming their battles, that it felt like I could get a fair sense of the game. I wanted to go play some games but timing and budget didn’t allow it. So, It has always been a voyeuristic experience for me, but I would still like to go out and do a LARP. Anyone, anyone? Let me know, and if I can make it I will.
Larping.org:What has been the larping community’s reaction to your film thus far?
Mike Peterson: That was the thing I was most nervous about. I began my filmmaking career with documentary films. With docs you have certain ethical obligations to your subjects and your story. I think this helped inform me a lot, or at least I was very conscious of it, and it informed how we wrote the film and how I attempted to film it. But you never know how an audience is going to take anything, and when it is the audience that the film is really about and for, you really want them to at the very least respect it and feel like it is a fair portrayal (with some creative license of course). Those were some of the most nerve wracking screenings. But so far the response has been what I hoped it would be, even better in most cases. Basic consensus is that the larpers we’ve shown have said it’s a positive film and they had a lot of fun watching it and that it makes LARP look like fun, sometimes more fun that it actually is when you get down to all the organization and other stuff that gets in the way of the fun parts when dealing with reality – absolutely, these are the biggest compliments I could hope for and it is from these types of testimonials that I feel like I’ve achieved my goals with the film. The comedy isn’t mean-spirited and makes larping look like fun, and there are always a few dicks who get involved in every activity you can think of that want to take things too far and make it not fun for everyone else. In the end it should look like fun, and I was trying to treat LARPing with respect, not quite a LARP recruiting film, but maybe something close to that.
Larping.org:Was offending the people you were trying to portray ever an issue?
Mike Peterson: Yes, it absolutely was. I think I cover this in the last answer. But it was something that came up all the time in writing and filming, it was always in the back of my mind and in general informed everything. To me, the LARP community is one of the main core audience members and I didn’t want to alienate them or make fun of them, that would be like being some kind of jerk to do something like that and probably also very counterproductive.
Larping.org:Do you think the movie gives a good introduction to larp for non-larpers?
Mike Peterson: I think it does, but in the same way that Slap Shot gives an introduction to junior hockey, we definitely grab onto some of the things that felt more comedic and cinematic for the sake of the film. But I think it gets into the spirit of the thing, and shows that part really well, which in my opinion is more important. But that’s the intention and I can’t control how it gets consumed by the audience.
Larping.org:Any hilarious stories of the actors really getting into larping?
Mike Peterson: There was lots of sword fighting on set. A few of the actors sustained minor injuries from getting to into the battle scenes. The props department would hold BMX jousting battles after shooting ended each day -m there may have been some beer involved with that. My son, who was about 3 at the time we filmed, got to fight Brian Posehn in a sword fight, which we filmed and could maybe show you. Pretty epic.
Larping.org:Do you have a release date and can we hope to see the film across all of North America?
Mike Peterson: Canada is right now on VOD, places like itunes and your cable VOD service. It will be in the US in JANUARY 2013. So, if you want to help, please share the trailer and join us on facebook for more updates. We are a small film that were told would fail almost every step of the way, one way was that LARP was to weird and small and fringe that anyone woudl ever care about this film, and now here we are, with a film that I’m super proud of and got pretty much full creative control of, and it will be a success because of the audience, word of mouth, people liking it enough to support it.