You might have heard that there was a Dungeons & Dragons documentary in the works. After a successful Kickstarter, "Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary" was underway in earnest. Then another film titled "The Great Kingdom" appeared by two of the executive producers of the first documentary, James Sprattley and Andrew Pascal. Something was up, but it wasn't clear as to exactly what happened until Anthony Savini, the director of the first documentary, shared an update on the first film's Kickstarter page yesterday:
Last year there was a falling out among the producers of this film and now two of the original producers (James Sprattley and Andrew Pascal) have set out to create the own competing documentary. We would never object to competition, our position is that they have wrongfully attempted to use the assets of this film in their own, competing documentary.
That competing documentary is "The Great Kingdom." currently at $15,000 of its $50,000 Kickstarter goal. The Kickstarter page acknowledges that there have been some differences:
Some of you may know James and myself from a different D&D documentary project that was started on Kickstarter a couple of years ago. As projects like this go and part of the nature of filmmaking, there were creative differences that led to our new direction and separation from the previous project. We started from scratch, raising private funds and some of our own to get us to this point. We knew there was an amazing story to tell. And like any complicated story, there will always be room for different interpretations.
Those differences have led to a lawsuit by Savini's Westpaw Films, Inc. against James Sprattley, Andrew Pascal, and Fantasy Game Films, LLC.:
Filing suit was a last resort for us. We attempted to amicably negotiate with James and Andrew with a mediator and then with the support of legal council [sic]. During this time, James and Andrew were taking advantage of our good faith negotiation period to secretively launch their own competing project using the head start we had obtained for this film, including our interview subjects, our contacts, our logo, etc... Only after we reached an agreement to carry forward and make this film, we learned of the competing documentary. Despite our best efforts to resolve this in a collegial manner, it has ended up in court (and if you'd like some fun legal reading, a copy of the complaint can be found here.
The legal complaint alleges that around July of 2012:
Pascal and Sprattley increasingly made unilateral production related decisions and asserted of [sic] control over finances to the exclusion of Westpaw...In or about July of 2012, Pascal, Sprattley and/or Iconoscope drafted or caused to be drafted a proposed partnership or joint venture agreement that effectively attempted to cut Savini out of his business role with the D&D Production... Westpaw disagreed with these proposed modifications to the initially agreed upon terms governing the rights and responsibilities of Westpaw , Pascal and Sprattley in the D&D Production and refused to sign it.
Their relationship appears to have soured as the film progressed:
During 2012 and early 2013 , Westpaw’s relationship with Pascal, Sprattley and Iconoscope became increasingly strained due to differences in personalities and opinions regarding production , creative direction, and financial outlays, as well as due to Pascal and/or Sprattley making important decisions regarding the D&D Production without conferring with and/ or informing Westpaw or Savini...With Westpaw being increasingly cut out of production and financial aspects of the D&D Production , the relationship between Savini and Pascal and Sprattley, and therefore Westpaw and Iconoscope, had deteriorated and by May 2013, the parties agreed to non-binding mediation to attempt to resolve their disputes...Mediation was unsuccessful, and Westpaw and Iconoscope, through attorneys, continued to negotiate a resolution through 2013 that would allow for the completion of the documentary film and fulfillment of the various Kickstarter “rewards” promised to funders of the D&D Production.
Both groups reached a settlement agreement, but that's when Savini learned about The Great Kingdom documentary:
Within days after executing the Settlement Agreement, Savini learned that Iconoscope did not negotiate the Settlement Agreement in good faith as expressly represented , but rather, since at least August 2013 (while Westpaw was engaged in good faith negotiations) had been usurping D&D Production opportunities through the actions of Pascal and Sprattley, who were secretly competing with the D&D Production by planning and undertaking to produce a different Dungeons & Dragons documentary referred to as “The Great Kingdom” (the “Competing Project ”).
The rest of the suit, seeking in excess of $75,000, alleges that Kickstarter backers and interview subjects confused the two films. You can read the details in the complaint. Despite the lawsuit, both films seem determined to move forward, as mentioned on "The Great Kingdom" Kickstarter page:
So, to those who helped support the previous documentary, we would like to offer a digital, downloadable copy of THE GREAT KINGDOM for FREE. It's our small way of thanking you for your support and patience. All you need to do is email us (TheMostEpicGame@gmail.com) and there will be a copy waiting for you when the film is done. And to those who are just tuning in, rest assured that we are now more more focused and excited to finish. We've learned from our mistakes and have great mentors to steer the way for us. We anticipate setbacks, that's just the nature of film-making. But we're confident that we can meet our goals and deadlines. And if we don't, you'll be the first to know why and our plan to fix it. Our goal is to finish. We've worked too hard not to.
And the "Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary" page:
We wanted to let you know that the Kickstarter pledges are not being used to fund the legal action. We are funding this lawsuit out of pocket. All the funds from Kickstarter are being used for the film production. Despite these frustrating delays, we've made great headway with the film. Again, we would like to thank you for believing in the vision of this project, for your patience as we navigate this unexpected and unfortunate twist of events, and for all of your encouragement and words of support as we continue to push through to complete the film that we have envisioned.