The Tangled Web We Watch

LARPs, a Web Series About Live-Action Role Playing

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Fri, Jun 6, 2014 at 4:03 AM
click to enlarge Left to right: Jonathan Silver, Elizabeth Neale, Jon Verrall, Charlotte Rogers, Scott Humphrey - JOE BARON
  • Joe Baron
  • Left to right: Jonathan Silver, Elizabeth Neale, Jon Verrall, Charlotte Rogers, Scott Humphrey

Following in the footsteps of Felicia Day's hit web series The Guild, sleek, smart Canadian web series LARPs brings to life an endearing cast of characters from another oft-ridiculed "nerd" subculture: Live-Action Role Playing, which is like Dungeons & Dragons except that the players physically act out their roles.
Hollywood loves to throw a LARPer into the cast whenever it needs someone geeky - see Christopher Mintz-Plasse in Role Models - but the LARPing community of hundreds of thousands in the United States alone is, of course, far more nuanced.

The story of LARPs revolves around how five friends' shared gameplay imagination affects their actual lives. There's Author, a nerd among nerds; Will, his eye-rolling brother, merely there to socialize; shy Brittany, who acts out her crush on Will only during the game; Shane, who refuses to bond with the group; and Evan, the mercurial, controlling Game Master, played by series writer Jon Verrall, a LARPer himself for more than 16 years.

Julian Stamboulieh's dynamic direction transports the audience between worlds seamlessly. One moment the camera sweeps us into fictional combat; the next we're wedged in hilarious, awkward conversation as the players try to get back on the same imaginary page.

The low-budget series bumps up production quality nicely with costumes donated by LARP retailer Les Artisans d'Azure. Stamboulieh enjoyed the added authenticity on and off set. As he said in an interview, "Nothing makes directing a web series more fun than swinging a bone sword at your actors between takes."

Stamboulieh and Verrall have continued to engage their growing audience, with an online comic exploring the story the friends are LARPing and a weekly behind-the-scenes podcast, while they prep for Season 2. 

The Tangled Web We Watch is our column on what's worth watching online. You can watch LARPs at LARPsTheSeries.com. Read Stephanie Carrie's full interview with Stamboulieh and Verrall on her blog, tangledwebwewatch.com.

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