If there’s one thing Critical Role reminds us of time and time again it is this: fandom is powerful. Critical Role is a Dungeons & Dragons streaming series originally aired on Geek & Sundry, later separating to become their own entity all together.
This passionate little show that made a typical home game public to an audience of thousand to start grew like blackberry bushes in Oregon. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated this kind of reception. Yet there was something about a campaign led by DM Matthew Mercer that struck a chord.
Fast-forward to today, and you have a team that is reeling from a record-breaking Kickstarter that has raised over 7 million dollars. The kicker? This campaign still has over a month to go.
We had the privilege of hearing from two of the Executive Producers behind this Kickstarting behemoth, Sam Riegel and Travis Willingham. They shared about the process from conception to Kickstarter, along with their reactions, hopes, and excitement about what’s to come.
You can read their interview below and check out the Kickstarter they are discussing RIGHT HERE.
What can you tell me about the process leading up to this Kickstarter? You’ve mentioned before that the animation has been a dream for a long time and I’m curious to know what that process looked like from conception to Kickstarter!
We first started dreaming of an animated version of the Vox Machina story back in early 2016. We’ve always been floored by the visual representations of our characters and story moments from our incredibly talented fans, and seeing how the story unfolded in their minds (along with ours) really ignited the dream of this finding its way to animation.
Only problem was, none of us had ever made a cartoon before! We’ve all worked in animation for years – as actors, writers, and voice directors – but helming our own project was something we needed help with.
That’s when we brought in the talented folks at Titmouse! We crafted a show pitch that we shopped around for a few months, but it quickly became clear that the fastest way to show the world what these stories were capable of was to make the show ourselves.
After carefully planning what we thought was a reasonable approach to a Kickstarter goal, we watched as our incredible fans demolished one stretch goal after another in the span of a day. With just under 40 days left, we’re excited to see how the rest of the campaign unfolds.
What excites you about getting to work with Titmouse and how did you find them as your animation studio?
All of us have worked in the animation industry as actors for many years, so we were well aware of Titmouse and the kick-ass work they do. One of our own, (Emmy Award Winning) Sam Riegel, collaborates with Titmouse frequently as a voice and casting director, so the connection was an easy one to make. And their founder, Chris Prynoski, is a long-term D&D nerd, like us!
But what really separated Titmouse from the rest of the animation houses was the energy in their work. Their animation has a punk rock style, dazzling movement, unexpected camera moves, visceral action — that’s going to perfectly match up with the saga of Vox Machina.
They’ve also been incredibly supportive of the Kickstarter campaign — even though our fans overwhelmed their website, causing it to go offline for a few days. (Sorry, guys.)
You have managed to snag the wildly talented Jennifer Muro to pen this script – what led you to her as the writer to take Vox Machina on a new adventure?
We knew we needed someone with solid animation writing chops to help craft this story — and Jennifer is the perfect storm of talent, ability, and knowledge.
We’ve logged hundreds of hours portraying the Vox Machina characters, but to compress and adapt the hours of story into compact, visually arresting, and hilarious 22-minute scripts takes someone who knows the material, and knows how to structure a story.
She’s also an avid gamer, certified nerd, and has tons of experience in animation. Her passion and fresh perspective is gonna make this series truly spectacular.
From what I understand, the initial episodes (!!) of the series are going to be a completely new adventure outside of even the home game – what led to that decision, instead of trying to re-create pre-stream game content?
With our animated series, we didn’t want any sort of barrier-to-entry for a viewer who had never heard of Critical Role. So we thought the best way to captivate existing fans as well as a brand new audience would be telling an original story. That way, everyone can experience it for the first time.
We’ve already cracked the original story line, and it’s got everything that excited us about the classic Vox Machina story lines — thrilling combat, stupid jokes, intrigue, magic, music, surprising twists… and doors.
It’s been a little nerve-wracking to try and write a script from scratch, when we normally rely on improvisation to create so much of our stories. But because we know these characters so well, it’s almost like Vex, Vax, Grog, Scanlan, Keyleth, Pike and Percy are writing the story for us. It’s been an amazing experience.
Finally, in light of the wild success of the Kickstarter campaign, what do you make of the Critter community? Because I can tell you that this rag-tag bunch of nerds from all over the world have made a huge impact in my life, and I’m curious to know what it is like from your perspective to watch this community grow, flourish, and make a difference.
It’s hard to put into words how we feel about our beloved Critters. From day one, we’ve been astonished and humbled by the incredible passion, energy, and love that the Critter community exudes.
Fandoms are certainly something we’re all familiar with, but we feel the Critters embody something more. Always welcoming to the newcomer, it’s been nothing short of inspiring to watch them join us for these adventures, share their talents, and spread our love for storytelling.
Watching their responses in real-time to the myriad of situations our adventures face has given us an incredible insight into their perspectives on life and its many challenges. We’ve learned much, and genuinely feel our relationship with them is a reciprocal one.
We know we’re not alone in saying we’ve found new friends and family from this community – and for that, we’re immensely grateful. Our worlds have been forever changed by them, and only motivated us to take our stories as far as they can go.
Thank you to Sam Riegel and Travis Willingham for taking time to share their thoughts about the campaign! There’s still tons of time to contribute and join the Critters in animated more of the Vox Machina Story!