We are Andrew Matthews and Katie Graham, the co-directors of "Zero Charisma." This is our first narrative film, after working as director of photography (Katie) and editor (Andrew) on Michael Paul Stephenson's two award-winning docs "Best Worst Movie" and "The American Scream".

"Zero Charisma" is about an obsessive and ill-tempered table-top Game Master who becomes increasingly insecure when a new, "hip" gamer joins his crew. It's now available On Demand and iTunes (download here: http://bit.ly/1hzhsS3 ) and opens in select theaters starting this Friday, 10/11.

I (Andrew) have been playing RPGs since 5th grade. I (Katie) am not a gamer, and together we tried to make a movie that will appeal to gamers and general audiences alike. Ask us anything, whether it's about indie filmmaking or gaming or invading hipsters or our love of comedy or whatever!

Proof tweets: https://twitter.com/K80Blog/status/387990663783919616 https://twitter.com/TribecaFilm/status/387990242898087936

Comments: 100 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

chooter9 karma

Was this modeled after real people you knew? I thought you guys did a great job capturing the frustrations of dealing with this social structure.

ZeroCharisma_Movie5 karma

Thanks! Yes, there were definitely people we've known in there, and a little bit of myself (Andrew). I won't say what parts.

ZeroCharisma_Movie5 karma

THIS IS FUN! - Katie

unambiguous_username5 karma

Can you comment at all on the challenges of appealing to a general audience while respecting gamer culture? Shows like the Big Bang Theory, for example, poke fun at nerds without really exploring an insider's view of the culture, which in turn seems to perpetuate negative stereotypes.

ZeroCharisma_Movie4 karma

It was helpful that one of us is a longtime gamer and one of us not. I (Andrew) would write scenes and Katie would read them, and let me know if they veered too far into nerdery that she couldn't follow it. It is hard keeping gameplay authentic when you're trying to keep scenes of a manageable length. As any gamer knows, small encounters can take hours to resolve!

direhound3 karma

How can we get Zero Charisma in our theaters? We had you guys at the Little Rock Film Festival and it was a huge hit. People are dying to see it in our small town! Bribe Chris Hardwick?

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

Hey, if it were up to us it would be in art house theaters nationwide. Ask your independent theater if they are interested in organizing a screening! You can totally bribe Chris too! : ) - Katie

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

Little Rock Film Fest was great! We got to meet some really cool filmmakers there and drink all the Stella Artois we could handle. - Andrew

reesesfeces3 karma

Hey, I used to watch Katie's youtube videos. You guys rock!

What was it like switching from documentaries to narratives? Did you guys write this as well as direct it?

Is it too soon to ask what your next project might be?

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

Thanks!! It's been a million years since I was on YouTube. We came up with the story together and Andrew wrote the dialogue. Then we'd go over it again and again together. We directed together which was fun. We both brought different things to the table. Docs are much more organic than narratives. Doing a narrative is very scary cause you are worry things aren't real enough. With a doc that's never the case. - Katie

HymenAnnihilator3 karma

As a socially awkward bastard myself, I find that social anxiety is inversely correlated with alcohol consumption. Anyhow, the movie looks good, especially with all the cookie cutter movies as of late. Can't wait to watch it.

ZeroCharisma_Movie5 karma

Thanks! Alcohol does lubricate social situations.

PurpEL3 karma

As someone who is not a fan of DND, or RPG board games am I going to become one after watching the movie?

ZeroCharisma_Movie6 karma

Maybe! If you've tried it before and didn't like it, not sure what we could do to persuade you to try it again, other than to say that every group plays differently. Like most hobbies, it's largely about the people you share it with. Which is a lesson our main character had to learn.

freevo2 karma

Are there any other indie gamer pictures that inspired you? Either in a good or a bad way? If so, which ones?

I personally am an avid rpg player but I've yet to play DND as it is not really a thing in my country. Is your movie accessible to players who are not familiar with DND? Is your film accessible to the general audience?

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

Yes! Andrew's a gamer but I'm not. Our priority first and foremost was to make a film that general audiences would enjoy. If you're a gamer, that's a just bonus. - Katie

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

What country are you from, by the way? We're trying to work out some international distribution now. - Andrew

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

Andrew: I've seen a lot of gamer movies, some are great, some are not so great. Darkon was pretty well-made. Dorkness Rising may not be for everyone, but it's fun if you're familiar with D&D. The films that inspired us in a bad way were more mainstream, big-budget ones that used nerds as 2-dimensional, peripheral characters. As a lover of comedy, I don't really get offended by using archetypes for laughs, I just don't like the laziness of the portrayal.

hypermonkey22 karma

i think it's really cool that the protagonist is also at times the antagonist, and how it's sometimes a matter of perspective for super-nerds vs hipsters. we loved the movie at fantasia! http://betterwithpopcorn.com/blog/we-2-watch/movie-reviews/zero-charisma-fantasia-film-festival-2013 thanks for the great film!!!

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

Andrew: Thanks! We figured that with a character study like this, it was less important for the protagonist to be right than it was for him to be understood. He may not always (or often) make the best decisions, but hopefully you understand where he's coming from. Thanks for your support, Fantasia was awesome! We saw some great movies there.

Somanyregrets692 karma

What's next for you guys? Also - what would a Zero Charisma sequel look like? Would you ever consider doing one?

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

We have a few scripts we're working on, but haven't decided which to pull the trigger on. As far as a sequel, we'd actually be more interested in adapting it into episodic form, like a TV show or webseries. There was a lot of stuff in our original treatment that we had to cut, and so many places for the character to go. Feature films have so many time constraints, it seems like you're always cutting and cramming. It'd be nice (especially with a character study) to stretch out a bit. -Andrew

JuanJuanLeprechaun2 karma

Can't wait for this movie. I went to school with Sam Eidson and saw Jurassic Park Live with him starring as Hammond/Muldoon. Talented guy! How was it like working with him?

ZeroCharisma_Movie6 karma

Sam rules. He couldn't be farther from the character of Scott. We're were nervous at first because this was his first leading role but he killed it. When Andrew and I watch the film, we don't see Sam, we see Scott. He completely transformed himself. My hope is that Zero Charisma will help Sam become a cult film star! - Katie

anclas2 karma


ZeroCharisma_Movie6 karma

Andrew and I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Austin 4 years ago to make this film. We adore Austin. We've met so many fantastic people and know this film would have been impossible to make in LA. We always say moving to Austin might have been the best decision we've ever made. Also, the filmmakers in the indie scene there are incredible filmmakers as well as people: Geoff Marslett, Bryan Poyser, Michael Tully, Clay Liford, Kat Candler, Don Swaynos...the list goes on and on!! -Katie

ZeroCharisma_Movie5 karma

I think the topic of hip nerds vs. true nerds is more prevalent today than it was a few years ago, so maybe commercially this is a better time to release the film, but I'd like to think that emotionally it would've had the same impact since the themes are relatively universal. Everyone knows what it's like to feel your turf invaded. Everyone knows what it's like to crave admiration. Everyone worries about wearing their insecurities on their sleeve. I think. I do. --Andrew

Tonymendez21122 karma

Saw this at Sxsw this past year really blew me away. Being an aspiring filmmaker as well I wanted to ask about the process you all went through to get distribution for the film?

ZeroCharisma_Movie4 karma

Applying to festivals can be an expensive and often demoralizing process, but they really do matter for little films trying to find distribution. Our exposure at festivals led to meetings with potential distributors, though perhaps not in a direct line. We had some connected people/celebrity types who saw the film and passed it along to other people. That it landed in the Nerdist's lap was such a stroke of luck for us, and that they brought it to Tribeca just worked out great. So you do need some luck, but you never know where it'll come from. Any festival or screening may have the right person sitting in the audience who can help you out. -Andrew

jettek2 karma

I've seen the movie (and liked it). The main character reminded me quite a bit of Ignatius Reilly (this is a compliment). Have you all read "A Confederacy of Dunces" or am I just projecting?

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

Is this Slackerwood Jettek? Yes, you're right on the money. We were greatly inspired by Ignatius Reilly. You're not projecting at all. A little Ignatius, a little comic book guy from The Simpsons, a little IT guy from the British Office and a little of Andrew. Hahaha! - Katie

ZeroCharisma_Movie2 karma

"Confederacy of Dunces" was an important book for me in my 20s. The fact that Hollywood has been unsuccessfully trying for decades to adapt it into a movie was kind of a motivation for us to try our hand at a similar character. (I kinda hope Hollywood never makes that movie. There's just no way it would be true to the humor and tone.) -Andrew

c3602 karma

Katie and Andrew - I know you've worked together on projects before, but what was the experience of co-directing Zero Charisma like? Are there any benefits and potential complications to being partners outside of your creative work?

Loved the film! Thanks for making the theatrical release available like this (I was happy to pay the $7 to see it)!

ZeroCharisma_Movie2 karma

Thank you! Actually, there were very few complications working together. We both have areas where we're stronger. My background is in theatre, so I'm more used to working with actors, and Katie went to film school, so she's much better with composition, color, art direction, etc. But we both have very similar tastes and when we agree on something, it gives us more confidence in the decision. Of course, the fact that we're also a couple can make you feel like you're always at work, because our creative work is so often the topic of conversation. We're trying to plan a vacation once the release is behind us. -Andrew

nhwoodsblues2 karma

How did you guys meet Sam Edison?

ZeroCharisma_Movie2 karma

We saw Sam in a couple Austin indie films and we thought he was funny, so we asked him if he'd help us shoot a teaser trailer to kick off our fundraising on IndieGoGo. This was back in spring of 2011. He was totally game so we ran around town for four days shooting a few pages from the script (none of which ended up in the final film). The resulting teaser was something of a hit and we raised more than our target goal and we knew Sam had a lot to do with that. Even though he had never had a lead in a feature before, he was so committed on camera and so great to work with and had such a natural presence, we offered him the role later that year. It was a scary decision to make, because the film totally depends on that actor, but I'm so glad we did. -Andrew

Lizlove93692 karma

My brother is in this movie!!!!

ZeroCharisma_Movie4 karma

Who's your brother?

Lizlove93693 karma

Damnit he's gonna know my username now. Brian. It's Brian he's my big brother.

ZeroCharisma_Movie5 karma

Aww...Brian is awesome! You've seen the film, right?

firezenukes2 karma

Did you choose "Zero charisma" from E.T.?

ZeroCharisma_Movie2 karma

Kind of. We love E.T. and the look of the D&D game was a huge influence on how we wanted the game table in ZC to look. But, that title seemed right on it's own accord. It's a D&D term but also represents what Scott lacks...charisma. That's what he's battling the Miles character for. Even though, in actuality, Sam Eidson the actor has a ton of charisma on screen. - Katie

MehPsh2 karma

You guys won the SXSW Audience award (surprise?), Did you try to put it in any other film festivals?

ZeroCharisma_Movie1 karma

It was a HUGE surprise. We came into the fest as definite underdogs. No one was really talking about it in terms of press it was only after that first screening that the film just exploded. It was an incredible feeling! It seemed like everyone at SXSW knew about it suddenly. We've played at 15 -20 fests since then. It been such an amazing ride. Now we hope it will spread outside of the festival world to general audiences. - Katie

marialfc2 karma

Good to see that you guys are having such a great time and success with this project, I've known of Katie since youtube (when it was popular) and she's super talented!. What was (and if there's one thing) the hardest thing for you guys to accomplish in relation to this movie? was it getting it filmed? choosing the right actors? distribution?

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

Hey!!! Everything felt hard. I'd say the scariest time as a indie filmmaker is the time when you've finished the film, submitted to festivals, and you just sit there and wait to see if you've gotten in. You wait to hear back for months and it's brutal. Distribution is hard as well. Trying to find interested distributors kinda feels like starting all over again. Thank goodness for Tribeca and The Nerdist coming along. - Katie

JessupBrundle2 karma

All too often people feel like they have the ability to make a movie, but lack the confidence to actually commit to it since, as with all art, you really are opening yourself up to the world for potential praise or scorn. So, for all the aspiring filmmakers out there, who gave you permission to make Zero Charisma? Where'd the confidence come from?

ZeroCharisma_Movie2 karma

Andrew: You are so right about that. It's scary as hell to put yourself out there. Even with how inexpensive it's gotten to make a film, it's still too expensive and difficult to go it alone, so you do have to get people on your side. It was really a one day at a time kind of thing: write a script, get some actors over to read it, listen to their input, etc. The big leap was kinda the IndieGoGo campaign, because once people had given us their hard-earned money, we were locked in. I also have to credit Michael Stephenson, director of Best Worst Movie, for taking a chance on us with no feature film experience. Being part of a critically successful film gave us some confidence.

JordanM852 karma

Will we ever again be blessed with a new K80Blog video on YouTube?

ZeroCharisma_Movie5 karma

This AMA may convince me to post a video soon. : )

JordanM853 karma

Zero Charisma review on Rough Cuts!

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

I'm way too biased and would end up giving it five stars.

Cambodiodio2 karma

I met you guys at Sony last week. You're awesome and I hope your movie does really well. Good luck! That is all.

ZeroCharisma_Movie2 karma

Is this Judd? Haha! -Katie

Cambodiodio2 karma

Yes! Saw Jonah tweet about this and I'm on reddit a lot so thought I'd say hi. And good luck! I'm telling everyone about your movie.

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

You're a KING! Thank you!!! If you're ever in Austin, hit us up. We will show you the best time. - Katie

ChronosCrow1 karma

I live in Memphis. Heard your podcast on Nerdist and loved it. When ya'll are in town for Indie Memphis are you cool with meeting up?/I'd love to attend your Billy Hardwick's party.

Can't wait to see the movie at Indie Memphis.

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

How'd you know about that? Ha!! Oh yeah...we were on The Nerdist podcast. We haven't planned the party yet. I think Chris has to call his dad first. We're hoping to make it out to Indie Memphis. We've heard it's an incredible film festival. - Katie

apehodet1 karma

Was the D&D episode of Freaks and Geeks an influence on the film or the script?

ZeroCharisma_Movie2 karma

ERLEND! Yes. That and E.T. are two of our favorite representations of D&D in film/tv. - Katie

ChronosCrow1 karma

I'm writing a new lvl 1 campaign right now for my players. Got any good hooks for a game that begins with the PC's all in prison?

ZeroCharisma_Movie2 karma

Okay, this one's for real: they've all been randomly chosen to be guinea pigs for the Royal Wizard's (who's secretly a Necromancer) forbidden experiments. So they have to figure out how to escape and expose him, which bands them together. (I always wanted my first 1st-level adventure to give the players a real solid reason for sticking together.)

ZeroCharisma_Movie2 karma

This question is definitely for Andrew! -Katie

ZeroCharisma_Movie1 karma

How about if the emperor comes into their cell because he needs to use the secret escape tunnel because cult members have invaded the castle to assassinate him? Wait, that sounds familiar...

ChronosCrow1 karma

Haha. We can mix things up with a good, "and then a dragon eats him" tag.

ZeroCharisma_Movie1 karma

And then he took an arrow in the knee.

houstonspace1 karma

I want to watch this film. I live in Houston and I don't use any Apple products (no iTunes, no Mac, no iPhone or iWhatever). What are my options?

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

It's also on all major cable provider's VOD services as well as Amazon, Google Play, Xbox and others. BUT! You are in luck! You live in one of the dozen or so cities in which we are screening theatrically. Zero Charisma opens at the Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park in Houston on Oct. 25th. We'll be there on opening night! You can visit the website www.zerocharismathemovie.com to see all your viewing options. -Andrew

smashcuts1 karma

I love your movie! How can I help bring this amazing film to theaters everywhere?!?

ZeroCharisma_Movie1 karma

Contact your local independent theater, ask them to screen it! Tell them if they program it, you will come with friends. - Katie

Dingoman91261 karma

Saw the movie at SXSW and absolutely loved it! (renting later this week to show some friends). What were some of the pros and cons of making a feature-film of this size in Austin?

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

Thanks! The pros of making a movie in Austin are many, but the best is the fantastically supportive indie film community. There's a lot of talent in Austin, but it's not so big (or such a financially-geared industry) that it gets overly competitive. It's also a very middle-class town, which makes it a bit more conducive to an artist's lifetstyle (broke-ass, in other words). The only con I can think of at the moment is the summer heat, but that's what tubing is for!

chrisxdork0 karma

Why was Itunes rental only? I really enjoyed the movie, but 7$ to see a movie for 24 is kinda crap.

ZeroCharisma_Movie4 karma

There will be a DVD eventually! Thanks for renting, though!

ZeroCharisma_Movie3 karma

We're on most VOD outlets (xbox, Comcast, Time Warner, etc.) Since the film is being released the same time as hits theaters, I suppose that's the reason it's $6.99. It's cheaper than seeing at a movie theater! - Katie

JonZ82-9 karma

I find this movie offensive as a nerd.. I'm neither socially awkward, nor fat and greasy. Portraying us as such is a downward spiral of self defeat. Or you can try and profit on it like Big Bang Theory and it's laugh track drivel.

ZeroCharisma_Movie7 karma

If you don't share the characteristics of this character, then why are you assuming that it's supposed to be a representation of you? I am a "nerd" too (though the definition of that word is changing rapidly). I was not popular in school, I found refuge in books, movies and games of the fantasy/sci-fi sort, and I have carried my love of these things into adulthood. But I've let go of any persecution complex. If anything, our culture is geared towards our tastes more than any other subset and I'm old enough to not care about my image. I also have a sense of humor about my foibles and those of others, and if you don't, then maybe you should stay away from any comedy that might touch on issues or subjects that could be in any way personal to you. -Andrew

ZeroCharisma_Movie4 karma

Sorry if that's harsh! I'm just sensitive to over-sensitivity. I've been playing D&D my whole life, but I've never taken it personally if someone jokes about it--as long as the joke is good. Just like I don't care if someone makes jokes about bald guys or short guys or indie filmmakers. (And trust me, there's a lot to make fun of with that last one.)