Exclusive: The Dwarvenaut Clip and Stefan Pokorny Interview
One of our favorite films of this year’s Fantasia Fest was the Dungeons & Dragons documentary The Dwarvenaut, and one of our favorite people was its subject Stefan Pokorny. The film is a dreamlike glimpse into the visionary mind of Brooklyn-based artist and entrepreneur Pokorny, a classically-trained art prodigy obsessed with D&D and founded the accessory company Dwarven Forge. Over the course of the movie, Pokorny attempts to bring his most ambitious work yet to life through Kickstarter, where he has raised over $6.4 million and given countless D&D devotees the dungeons of their wildest fantasies. We had the chance to not only talk to him at the fest but were also provided an exclusive The Dwarvenaut clip, which you can check out below!
“I’m a ham, I’m a game master, I don’t mind,” Pokorny told us of being filmed by the doc’s director Josh Bishop over the course of a year-and-a-half. “I got used to the cameras pretty quickly. I’m not shy, so I’m ready to espouse my world views all the time.”
The big dramatic arc of the film involves a Kickstarter campaign for a city gaming terrain set that literally broke the mold for Dwarven Forge.
“I had been doing dungeons for 18 years, because in the game of Dungeons & Dragons you’re usually in a dungeon underground,” Pokorny said. “That’s where the combat takes place, attacking the monsters. I cut my teeth on that, making dungeons. People said don’t do castles, there are other companies that do that, but I decided that’s what we should do. I’d already done so many dungeons, I have dungeons coming out of my ears. I want to do castles and cities. It was a bit of a gamble on our part. We had no idea if we were gonna fail terribly, it was a leap of faith. We’re such a small company that if we decide to do something and nobody buys it there’s no cushion, we’re out of business.”
Fortunately, the documentary is not a feature-length commercial for Dwarven Forge products, but rather a compelling success story of a United States immigrant adopted by other immigrants.
“I was happy it wasn’t bad, it’s kind of a work of art,” he says of the film. “I’ve seen it eight or nine times now. I still cry. It’s like a love poem to my parents, a lot of gratitude. I get teary eyed, I enjoy seeing my mother and hearing my mother. It’s like looking at your family album. We all came here and lived the American dream. People love that I was adopted and people tell me that moved them. I love that people might see it and want to play Dungeons & Dragons. It helps to get people out of their shells, socialize with people, so I’m happy to be part of that. Don’t be afraid, it’s a game that will bring yourself out. You’ll learn something about yourself if you play this game, you’ll gain lifelong friendships with the people you play this game with. It’s a game where everyone helps each other. You cooperate together to achieve common goals. It helps you in all walks of life, D&D helps you to not take yourself too seriously and activates your imagination. I think everyone will play Dungeons & Dragons in the future. It’s a wonderful game that will keep us from being droids, from being glued to some computer screen. This is a game that will help us retain our humanity.”
The Dwarvenaut is available on VOD this Friday, August 5.