Read an Interview with Steve Metze

A film critic the student newspaper of the University of North Texas, the North Texas Daily, recently asked Steve a few questions. Considering I don’t want to wait for the newspaper to be published, I thought I’d publish his answers here. Enjoy.

1) What propelled you to make this movie?

Two things really. The first, was one day I was at a board meeting for Texas Student Publications at the University of Texas at Austin Union Building, and I noticed scheduled for the board room after us, was a group called the “Austin Celestial LARPers”. Not having much of a life at the time (this was before I met my new bride Tiffany), I decided to wait around and see what this group was. Soon, a bunch of 20-somethings showed up and started putting on suits and dresses and interesting make-up. I asked them who they were, and they got very defensive at first. After talking to them a while, they explained that LARP stood for Live Action Role Playing, and that they were about to play a game where they acted out the parts of their individual characters. Learning my background (Radio-TV-Film), they started a conversation on how gamers of all sorts were always horribly misrepresented in the media, and then they started listing examples. I asked them if anyone had ever done an accurate portrayal of gamers, and they said no. So, having access to cameras, I decided to make a documentary on gamers and get “the real story” out there.

The second thing, much smaller, was when, about that same time, I discovered the song “Fanboy” by “The Great Luke Ski” by accident. Listening to it a few times, I decided it would make a great opening song to the documentary I was thinging about making, and those two things together were enough…

2) Where do you want to go from here? Plans for a follow up film?

Originally I was planning some sort of follow up on a related type topic, maybe on student radio DJs or something like that. BUT, now that I’m deployed to Iraq, I’m currently shooting footage in all my “free time” of the deployment, hoping to make something about the war, and the soldiers deployed over here.

3) What was the most stressful part of making the film?

Besides all the money it cost? 🙂 Probably trying to get ahold of some of the more difficult interviews. I know we spent months tracking down Bob Larson, we got turned down twice by Steve Jackson (although, to his credit, he was very nice about it and they were mostly scheduling issues), and when we were doing the “man on the street” interviews, for a very long time we got people saying “Eh, I don’t know anything about it,” which was not at all what I was hoping to find. It wasn’t until that magic hour on sixth street when the bars start to close that we got the harsh commentary against gamers, and at that point, I knew we had a documentary.

4) Where are you from (so we can call you a “______ native”)

I was born in Washington State, near Seattle, but grew up first in DFW and then in Cleburne (mostly Cleburne) Texas, and went to college in New York.

5) Surprised by press reactions?

A little, but pleasantly so. I think most of the press recognizes that this is a story about the underdogs who all got picked on in high school, and everyone sides with the underdog.

6) Any experience with gamers overseas?

Shockingly enough, now that word of this documentary has gotten out to the soldiers in my unit and other units, a lot of them are “outing” themselves to me and telling me about their gaming experiences. I’ve also noticed an entire rack of Dungeons and Dragons rule books in the PX’s around Kuwait in particular, so, they must be out there a whole lot more than I originally suspected.

7) Any advice for the student filmmakers reading the article?

Yes, hire Don Swaynos as a cinematographer, David Hobizal as an editor, Eric Metze as a webpage designer, and Sharla Davenport (my sister) as a publicist. But baring those options (those people are very hard to get :), make a film, narrative or documentary, about something you are genuinely passionate about, or curious about, one of the two. Also, picture the person who has criticized your efforts most harshly (in my case, it was Steve Jackson, but that is a whole other story), and repeat their criticism over and over in your mind as you work. This will spur you on to do extra stuff far beyond what you would otherwise, and make an average film signficantly better.

8) Tired of answering questions yet?

Eh, no mortar attacks today, I’ve got time…

9) What was the most enriching experience with this film?

I think it was during the sneak preview at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. First of all, it sold out in pre-box office internet sales, which is always a good feeling. But the best part, was that among all these gamers and self-proclaimed nerds and underdogs, all my friends and family were there as well supporting me. And after the show, there were several people who said something to the tune of, “It makes me want to embrace my inner geek.” My friends and family (including my new wife) were proud of me, and I seemed to have struck a chord with at least a small percentage of the population. Frankly, that’s all any filmmaker could ask for.

and lastly…

10) Did you go to school? If yes, where? And if yes, what was your major? And if your major is not related to film, how did you fall into it?

I went to West Point and got a B.S. in National Security and Public Affairs. After Desert Storm, I decided to leave the regular army (but stayed National Guard), and went back to UT Austin to get into film. After another B.S. (that’s twice the B.S. most people have) in Radio-Television-Film, I went on into graduate school at UT, and got an M.F.A. in Film and Video production.

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