Stories are core to the human experience. We are all living stories, sketching out our backstories and our futures day in and day out. Destination Fantastic is a travel show that wants to go to all the places where human stories originated. Whether it is plunging into the heart of a volcano in Iceland, or digging deep into pantheons of old, Satine Phoenix and Stefan Pokorny are in search of good stories.
We were fortunate to sit down with them around a dinner table at San Diego Comic Con to hear more about the project. It is currently seeking support on Kickstarter. At its core, Destination Fantastic wants to bring stories back to share with communities around the world.
Katie Cardwell: First things first, how did you meet and come up with this idea for Destination Fantastic?
Stefan Pokorny: Wow, everyone wants to know how we met!
Satine Phoenix: Our origin story! Well, I knew him from Dwarven Forge. And I was on a lot of live stream shows and we wanted to use it. One thing led to another and we’re at GaryCon.
Actually, I’ve been going to Gary con for quite a few years. And I heard about this guy who’d run games for like 10 hours. They’re all AD&D (advanced first edition Dungeons & Dragons) games. And then I found out that guy was Stefan. And then last year, let’s see we started work is are playing together. We met at GaryCon because…
Stefan: We were on a panel together. I was excited because I was going to be on a panel with Satine Phoenix! So I knew a little bit about her, I’ve seen her doing panels and live streaming. Then we started into Destination Fantastic. I was talking to her about it, and she was so excited about it.
Satine: Because I travel a lot anyway, traveling and bringing different gaming communities together all over the world. And he’s like, I’m doing this thing. And it was this natural progression where we really enjoy hanging out. We’re both classically trained artists. We’re both storytellers.
Stefan: We immediately kind of melded the artistically similar creative interests. You know, both being Dungeon Masters both being artists. We’re both outgoing people. We like to hang out and meet people and socialize.
So where did the idea for this come from? What sparked it?
Stefan: Oh that was Josh (Bishop). He directed Dwarvenaut and he’s right here!
So you directed the documentary (The Dwarvenaut)?
Josh Bishop: I did, yeah. So basically we, during the shooting of The Dwarvenaut, we shot some of it in Italy. And if you’re lucky enough to own the DVD, there is a special feature on it. It’s basically a little mini documentary that Stefan and I made in Italy. And it’s very Italy specific, and we run around Italy and Stefan is basically the tour guide. It was so fun. We looked at each other and we were like ‘we should keep doing this!’
This was back in like 2015 while we were shooting The Dwarvenaut. One thing led to another and we finished it. Then Stefan and I in the meantime had just become like, soul buddies. And we just have been working on the idea ever since. So here we are, we’ve shot our pilot, and we’ve got a lot of forward momentum. It was all sort of an accident.
Some of the best things are happy accidents.
Josh: I can honestly say Stefan is one of the funnest people that I’ve ever traveled with in my entire life. Just being in an airport with Stefan Pokorny is always an adventure. Then to have them [Stefan and Satine] together…you know.
Do you have a story to illustrate these adventures?
Josh: One time we were in Edmonton Airport and there were statues of dinosaurs hanging off the top of the roof, off the ceiling, like pterodactyls and stuff. There was another one that none of us recognized. This thing was massive. Stefan, do you remember?
Stefan: Yeah it is coming back to me, I was trying to figure out what that dinosaur was.
Josh: Yeah. But it was like dealing with a five year old boy. He was like, first of all, he had to know what the dinosaur was, but he wasn’t going to stop. And he literally talked to every single person he started talking to the to the janitor, the guy at the candy booth, he was gonna find someone who knew something about it. And It took us about an hour and a half. But he finally did find someone.
So we got home. Two weeks later, I got a phone call. We hadn’t spoken in a while and I get a phone call from Stefan. He literally had tracked down the thing, all of a sudden he had all this scientific information. Apparently it was the size of a giraffe in real life. At first I was embarrassed and then I was like, oh, this is actually really funny. Because you’re talking to literally every single person.
Suddenly the choice to do a travel show makes sense. It sounds like you’re curious and you really want to know a place really well, and to see the depth of a place, not just the surface.
Josh: Absolutely, we’d rather go off the beaten path.
Stefan: Satine is a great storyteller and she loves stories and telling stories and we go to these places and we gain so much inspiration from seeing all these fantastical places.
When you go to these places and on this trips, how much of it is pre-planned and how much of it is freestyle when you get there?
Stefan: [Our producers] plan it! They don’t tell us where they’re taking us, they want us to go in there surprised. They want to film the wonder in our eyes.
Satine: They know exactly what we’re interested in. And that it is a lot deeper than just oh, we’re going to go and look at landscape and eat some food. We’re all passionate about really deep storytelling and the real raw, gritty reality of mythology.
Stefan: They did a great job hooking us up with a lot of very interesting people that we then got to talk to and really get to know.
You guys have shot the pilot and you’re Kickstarting for the rest. How many episodes are you planning to make for season one?
Josh: For the first season we’d like to do eight episodes but it is endless. It could go on for a long time. There’s so many places in the world we’d love to go to.
Stefan: There’s so many mysteries out there. We went to see the Codex Regius.
Satine: The Codex Regius was written in 1200 or right around there. It is basically where The Lord of the Rings comes from. It was in a vault behind these massive doors that needed at least two or three keys to get into.
Josh: It is the oldest known written copy of Norse mythology that exists, so without that book we wouldn’t know anything about Norse mythology, or the Vikings.
Satine: It is really phenomenal and we got to see and read from it. It was beautiful. That’s the kind of stuff that we get to look at and it’s not just about learning the mythology, it is learning the mythology and understanding the environment that this comes from.
Iceland is the land of ice and fire for a reason. It is harsh, it is intense, and so is the food. So we eat the food, we hike over a glacier, we go into a volcano, and we get to talk and play games with locals, which is really cool. Being able to immerse yourself really is inspiring for your creativity. And now we’re both artists, but we’re more than that, we’re story tellers.
Stefan: Dungeon Masters
Satine: Dungeon Masters, and comic book artists, script writers, so it is very inspiring.
How hard is it to edit it all down? How do you pick and choose which experiences to keep and which ones to leave behind?
Josh: I mean, it’s hard. It’s it’s a lot. It’s a lot of work. You know, I think we probably have around 60 or 70 hours worth of stuff.
And how long are the episodes?
Josh: This one, this pilot will be about a network hour, about 45 minutes. And editing, it’s what we do as filmmakers. So there’s a method to the madness, you know. It sounds like a lot for people who don’t know how to edit. But if you’re a professional, then you know what you’re doing. And there’s a way that you do it. But it’s it’s a lot of work. It’s it’s finding the right moments, it’s finding what works, what kind of music you want to use, what kind of mood are you going to create?
It’s like you’re a sculptor. And then when you have your pieces, then you have to step back and look at it and you go, okay, now how do I string that together and tell a story with all of those little stories that I’ve already told. And then whenever you do that, you’ll have one big long set, We call it a fat cut, it’ll be a cut that’s way too long. And then you figure out what can I lose? Eventually, the story will reveal itself to you.
Stefan: Josh is also a musician and did our soundtrack.
Josh: I did. A lot of the music for the show was already made for The Dwarvenaut.
Stefan: But it is that plus, it was enhanced, right?
Josh: Yeah. John Ashton from the Psychedelic Furs produced our soundtrack. So he got a lot of incredible musicians. He got Sara Lee from Gang of Four. We got Peter Gabriel’s drummer. We recorded all the music back in 2016. But he’s been continuing to work on it with other musicians. And since then we have enhanced the soundtracks.
I like asking the technical questions, because it’s the layers for people, the layers of storytelling, how storytelling is not just on the ground, doing things, but also how you then take that and create a story.
Josh: I’m actually I’m glad that you’re curious enough to ask that for me as a filmmaker. I was originally a musician before I was going to be a director. Before I was going to make movies, I was going to be a rock and roll musician. And then when I was 16, something happened and I shifted focus.
But I use music as a tool to direct. I use it with my editor, I use it for myself, like how do I want this to feel. And sometimes I’ll just pick up a guitar and write, and then I’ll go yeah, that’s how this scene is supposed to feel. So I kind of got lucky with that, that I’ve been given a chance to meld both of what I thought was my artistic passions together and create this new thing with it.
It’s really lent itself to the show. I keep on referencing Stefan because Stefan I’ve known the longest, but as artists, the three of us, creating those moods is key. What we’re doing is not like a cookie cutter thing. The three of us are trying to create something new, something that you haven’t experienced before.
Satine: And because we’re all artists, we know how to communicate.
For the show, how can people access it both during and after the Kickstarter?
Satine: They can find us on Twitter and Facebook and we’ve got a website. And, you know, by being a part of the community we’re really trying to engage with. That’s why we’re reaching out via Kickstarter, because we want to have a direct conversation with people on there who are storytellers.
We have the freedom to create something as storytellers. You know, we’re not going on a trip because we want a free trip, because it’s not free, it is a lot of work. We’re doing it to gather information and share it with other people. A lot of the stuff that we’re accessing is not accessible. People don’t know where to find the Codex Regius. It’s very complicated.
Stefan: I didn’t know about it, I didn’t know it existed until we did the show!
Satine: And that’s the thing, now we all know about it and other people will know about it, and people will get curious. What else is out there?
Stefan: We want to uncover more secrets!
Satine: Exactly, what other secrets can be unveiled? This is our adventure, we’re playing a real life D&D game.
Stefan: The best way to keep up with the show is to be a backer! You get all the extra features. Some of the rewards include our artwork. We’re also running games. There’s a reward where you can go to Satine’s house and she’ll actually cook dinner for you. We’re running games, and eating food and hanging out and and I’m doing the same at my house, having people over running a five hour game and then having a barbecue. So some pretty cool rewards, I think.
I think it’s cool that the rewards even show your guys’s heart for this being a community project, actually going to the point of inviting people into your home. It doesn’t get more community-esque than that.
Satine: Yeah! We’re going to conventions all the time and running games and meeting people.
Alright, for my last question if you had like 30 seconds in an elevator to get somebody to come back to this Kickstarter, what would you say?
A waitress, right after the question was asked: It said asparagus on the ticket, I can bring you a side of fries.
Satine: That was it. That’s so real.
Josh: It is a show about asparagus.
Stefan: And a side of fries.
Josh: It isn’t even a 30 second pitch. [Destination Fantastic] is Dungeons & Dragons, rock and roll, and an adventure around the globe.
There you have it, folks. Destination Fantastic is coming to a small screen near you, and you can be a part of the effort to support it. Be sure to check out their Kickstarter, follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, and keep an eye out for them at any upcoming conventions!
Our thanks to Satine, Stefan, and Josh for taking time to share their hearts for this project!