On the newest season (season 3) for JourneyQuest, Christian Doyle directed whilst simultaneously starring as the sometimes hopeless but lovable Perf. The first movie Doyle directed was “Attacking the Darkness” (2015.) A successful experiment in which Doyle worked to find a way to tell a good story for as little money as possible. He flexed his storytelling skills by the premise of “okay I can improv a whole movie on the set of another movie.” It was a personal challenge to himself given that “a lot of the stuff we write being genre based is very expensive by its very nature. Y’know monsters, Goblins, Orcs, magic, special effects and money… After that (Attacking the Darkness), I was hooked.”
His first experience of directing for the screen were fight scenes in “Gamers: The Natural One.” Where his experience in directing fight scenes for the stage in theatre productions proved invaluable. “I didn’t even think about directing in film until I had to do it once” Doyle said. Recognizing that work needed to be done Doyle stepped up and stepped into the role. He explained that although a lot of money had been spent on training “none of the people that were in the fight scene that we were in had gone to this training. Because it was really just for this one guy. So I ended up doing second unit on that. Becoming impromptu second unit director.” He continued “…needed me to be fight director and I thought O.K. because I had done that before I’m certified for plays. It was fun.”
Doyle loves multiple aspects of the craft of filmmaking writing, directing, and acting. Though admittedly he says he would prefer to wear one hat at a time. When Matt Vancil (series creator, writer, and previous director) was forced to step aside due to other obligations Doyle was approached for the Director’s chair. “I hadn’t asked for the job… I was familiar enough with the story that I felt okay taking it on… Vancil talked me into it.” Vancil the lorekeeper was always only a phone call away to provide answers and assistance concerning lore knowledge or inquiries concerning Orcish language.
Doyle admits much of his drive to do well was to honor the fans of JourneyQuest. He understood the absolute need to be loyal to the series’ growth and to the fan’s expectations. His goal was to improve the series as it had been each season previously one way in doing that was making this season look better than what had been seen before. He “couldn’t just go off in a new direction” instead he needed to be true to the story that was being told and to understand the wishes of the audience. “And it gave me freedom in a lot of respects because I could say: No we can’t shoot it like this that’s not what the fans would want. This is the opposite of what this show is, I could stick by my guns on that” He recalled. After backer rewards the budget was about that of a 320,000 dollar film with no overtime budgeted. “We of course still want to make it look like it’s made with a million. I was working any hours that weren’t used sleeping.”
One of the major perks of working for the fans is of course, the fans. Doyle’s knowledge of what the fans wanted and expected wasn’t a hindrance. Retelling much of the story thus far as would be required for a blockbuster audience. However Doyle had the ability to trust his audience would know what was going on. Social media maintained a presence on the set of JQ3. Doyle said “That’s one of the parts of the job I’ve always liked is the interaction with the fans.” Fans on Facebook and other social media outlets brightened the days of the hard working JourneyQuest team. “Honestly there were some days when just them cheering for me on facebook or whatever was enough to get me through a really hard day or two.”
Directing has it’s challenges, much more so when coupled with acting in a leading role of the project you’re directing. With only eight weeks of pre-production I asked what habits Doyle had picked up that helped him in balancing both. For people working multiple jobs they are often said to be “switching hats” and Doyle said his most useful tool in balancing the two occupations had become just that, literally. “I had to wear a different hat during the directing portions because it’s really difficult for 40 people who are working under you to take you seriously in a big floppy yellow hat. I had to take it off and take the robe off then very quickly put my costume back on when it was time to shoot because I couldn’t even take myself seriously”