Students and alumni collaborate on ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ film

Photo courtesy of Jaime Ochoa/Creative Commons

Carla Triviño/Contributing Writer

A group of University students and alumni participated in a movie based on an unusual hobby: playing Dungeons and Dragons.

The film, “Rolling 20s,” based on a group of six friends — Danny, Shawn, Phil, Jake, Angie, and Lily — who play Legends and Lore, a table-top fantasy role-playing game similar to Dungeons and Dragons.

The characters are played by alumni Vania Vieta and Nakeyta Moore, as well as junior drama majors Caiti Wiggins, Steve Joseph Lopez and Valerie Villar.

Throughout the game, players roll a 20-sided die to determine their moves, hoping for the best roll, number 20, which promises “instant success.” During the film, they enter the game itself.

“Rolling 20s” is the second feature film produced by Studio214, an independent studio operating in South Florida. Previous productions by the studio include “Work of Art” and a documentary called “That Was Piddie Korn,” based on the ’90s band Piddie Korn.

The film was proposed by screenwriter Mike Engelmann, an FIU theatre graduate and director Joel Sotolongo, a Miami International University of Art & Design alum.

Alumna Vania Vieta said she was enthusiastic about being a part of the film. Vieta plays Lily, Danny’s younger sister.

“It was definitely different than the movies I’ve seen,” said Vieta. “I don’t know what other reasons I could come up with [for participating in the film], other than the great people I work with,” said Vieta.

During the film, Lily tries to switch to online play of the game to end the gaming session for good.

Sotolongo said gamers are typically portrayed as misunderstood losers and outcasts. Instead, he wants them portrayed as a relatable group of normal people.

“We drink. We smoke. We’re just like everyone else,” said Sotolongo. “Some of us are geeks, but people in D&D can be happy and have friends.”

He said most of the cast wanted entertainment industry experience, while others joined simply for their love of cinema.

Sotolongo hopes the part of the audience who doesn’t play fantasy games can relate with Angie, even though the movie targets gamers.

The film, largely funded by Sotolongo, reached its credit limits, making the cast scramble for an alternative. Money is needed for production insurance, gas, food, lodging, costumes, on-set special effects, makeup, props, and even horses.

According to Sotolongo, the only scenes left to film are the fantasy ones. In order to do this, the team used IndieGogo, a crowdfunding website where people raise awareness about their cause and collect funds.

From Sept. 9 to Oct. 9, their campaign raised over $3,600.

These funds will be used to travel to sites that work with the fantasy theme, such as Bok Tower and Gardens in Lake Wales, Fla. The team chose this area because of the 300-foot hill the director likes to call “a wizard looking tower.”

The non-fictional parts of the movie have been filmed in Miami, including the Modesto A. Maidique campus.

“It’s like “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” but with horses,” said Sotolongo.

“Rolling 20s” will be shown in gaming conventions, like GenCon, that host film festivals.

Sotolongo said the movie will not be finished for another year, but webisodes will be released before the first screening.

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