Directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein Talk Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.” Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures and eOne.
Directors/writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein chatted about Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.
The film officially hits theaters on March 31st. The synopsis reads: A charming thief, Edgin (Chris Pine) and a group of unlikely adventurers go on an epic heist to recover a lost relic, but things go dangerously wrong when they clash with the wrong people.
The cast consists of Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head and Hugh Grant. “We were very fortunate to get this group of people,” Goldstein said of his all-star cast.
“For me, the special thing about them is the fact that no two are alike. They’re all so different and I think that’s what allows them to complement each other,” said Daley.
concept for the movie
Speaking of the concept for this script, Daley said, “It was a script that had been around for quite a while and we read it about four years ago, although it’s changed a lot since then, the only thing we loved was it the fact that it was a heist and we just loved the idea of subverting your expectations of a fantasy film.”
Goldstein added, “We’ve seen so many dark and serious fantasy shows and movies and thought there was another side and it’s portrayed perfectly when you play a game of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s the fun, you’re still saving the world, but you get a few laughs along the way.”
“We drew from a lot of influences, both visually and story-wise, and we knew we really had to cover all the bases in terms of who we were targeting. We didn’t want this to be a movie just for die-hard fans, we wanted it to appeal to people who had never played a game of Dungeons & Dragons, so the challenge was trying to convey that to the audience, not just that is something they don’t expect, but it’s also an easy entry point,” said Daley.
Lessons this film taught them as filmmakers
“For me, I’ve learned my tolerance level, and you have to take it like a marathon,” Daley said of what this film taught him about himself. “You can’t kill yourself making it, it took a lot of sleepless nights, gray hair and cups of espresso to finally make it happen,” Daley said.
“It was also an endurance test,” Goldstein said. “Our previous films lasted 40 days. This was an 80 day shoot. It’s not just double the time, it’s the complexity. There were no easy days with this film. It was a lot and knowing you made it is a great feeling because it was literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
“When you make it on the other side, it’s so satisfying because people seem to be responding to all the hard work that we’ve put into it, and it’s a really beautiful moment,” Daley said.
John Francis Daley: Using his actor’s hat as a director
As an actor, Daley is also known for his role as FBI criminal profiler Dr. Lance Sweets in the hit drama crime series Bones. When asked if his experience on that show helped him co-write or direct this film, Daley replied, “Only in the ‘talk-to-the-dead’ scene, because of all the ‘bones,’ we dealt with.”
“As an actor, you get a sense of what can overwhelm an actor when you’re directing, so I always put on my actor’s hat. It’s a beautiful hat with ruffles and feathers,” Daley said with a sweet laugh.
Daily motivations as a filmmaker
Speaking of her daily motivation as a filmmaker, Goldstein said, “Part of it is the films that we grew up with. There’s an all consuming aspect of so many things we loved as kids that we’ve really tried to capture with this film, and that’s heart and lack of cynicism.”
“We’re trying to give audiences an experience that we remember from our youth,” Goldstein added.
The digital age
As a filmmaker in the digital age, Daley said, “Anything that allows more people to see it is better. I cannot stress enough that this film is designed primarily for the theaters. It’s a shared experience, similar to a Dungeons & Dragons game. It’s the best way to get something so ambitious right.”
“We also put a lot of time into the film’s sound design, and no laptop or phone is going to capture that for you,” Goldstein added.
Regarding the title of their current life chapter, they said with a smile: “Waiting for ‘Dungeons & Dragons to Open’.”
The most challenging part of making this film
They brought the most challenging part of their filmmaking experience to this project. “There were a lot of aspects that were challenging,” admitted Goldstein. “It was a very technical film. In many ways you have so much between the visual and practical effects. Some of the sequences had to be shot over several weeks and at different locations.”
Daley continued, “The other challenge was dealing with this pandemic, which was rearing its ugly head about a year into our preparation for the film. After we finished writing the script and started our “soft prep,” the pandemic came and brought things to a halt, but it also allowed us to spend more time on the script and a little more time on preparation and strategy, as we do wanted to pull through to spend .”
It’s been a four-year endeavor for us and we’re so excited to finally be able to show it to the world,” added Daley.
On her definition of the word success, Goldstein said: “Success is achieving what you set out to do in a way that makes people feel good. We tried to make a film that really gives people a break from everyday life. We wanted to create a whole world, which you get a small window into here. If we’ve managed to do that and people have felt good in these two years, then I’m good at it.”
“For me, success is knowing I’ve done what I set out to do, no matter how difficult it was or how it’s perceived,” Daley said.
Closing thoughts on the film
“I want people to know that they don’t need to know anything about ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ to enjoy this film. We very consciously designed it so that fans would see a lot of what they would recognize, but if people don’t know anything about ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ then there’s no stopping them from enjoying it,” Goldstein said.
“People don’t even have to like fantasy movies, this is really a movie for everyone, even people who hate fantasy because it’s so different in that way,” he concluded.
Continue reading: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is an exciting action-adventure game