When Parallel Digital first announced their Dark Souls fan series, Dark Souls: Unsung, I saw a variety of responses: some derisive, others supportive, but in particular the latter from the game’s community. The crowdfunded production will start shooting soon, so we spoke to Ren Martin from the team about the series and where the idea came from.
“We love making films, and love video games, so the pieces just fell into place,” he told me through an email correspondence. “Also, with how unique the world is, we felt that it would be an incredible challenge for us. We were inspired by the game’s unique approach to a Western-style fantasy, and feel that we can somehow bring that vision to life.”
When they talk about challenge, that doesn’t mean they haven’t embarked on a project of this calibre before; these are the men behind an original film festival entry called The Prophet, and a fan film called Assassin’s Creed: Parallel, which was recognised and appreciated by members of the Ubisoft development team themselves.
Like with Assassin’s Creed: Parallel, the team are trying to keep their story “within the world of the game”, without trying to retell the game’s story. “The series will lead up, and connect to the beginning of the game,” Ren clarifies. “At the moment, we are about two weeks away from our first day of production. We are just waiting on a makeup artist.”
The costumes are what are generating the most buzz for this project so far. The group have been “collecting all sorts of mediaeval gear over the years, hoping to put them to good use”, and judging by the pictures of their lead character’s outfit, inspired by concept art of the Elite Knight set of armour from the game, they certainly have.
A good chunk of their budget went to costuming – and, Ren tells me, “custom tabbards, a sword and shield, a DSLR slider, steadicam, and a few more tools”. Costumes shared on reddit have been complimented as “amazing”. Fortunately, at this stage in production, the props and costumes are “90% complete”, and the scripts and locations have been finalised.
I ask how they have gone about scouting for locations at which to shoot, and Ren explains: “Members of our team are avid hikers, and explorers. Every location that we have in the film is a place that at least one of us has previously explored. We also talk to others that may have been to cool places and if we hear about an amazing location in our area, we are there!”
Of course, being an unofficial fan project opens up a big vulnerability in the form of a potential legal response from publisher Namco Bandai. While Parallel Digital were working on their Assassin’s Creed fan film, they were watched by Ubisoft Montreal community developer, Gabe Graziani, the whole way through production.
the game’s unique
approach … and feel
that we can bring
that vision to life.”
“Once it was released, we were featured on their website, where they told us how much of an inspiration we were to the team,” he enthused. “We are hoping for the same response, and that they see how much fan created material actually helps their product. Or no response at all works too! As long as we don’t get a cease and desist, we are happy!”
The series’ reception could, in fact, determine the team’s future. Pursuing fan productions again “depends on what happens after this series’ release”, and while they would like to do more original work, fan films have always held their interest. “If time and funding permitted, we’d love to take on all sorts of titles, ranging from Ninja Turtles to Thief! Our fandom knows no boundaries!”
The team are now seeking an additional $600 of funding through Indiegogo, the same service through which they surpassed their initial funding goal of $1,200. You can find their campaign page here, and find out more about the team and their fan series on their Facebook page here.