Board games aren’t just for kids anymore. Adults all over the country, all over the world, have caught on to the craze and it won’t be ending anytime soon. Gamemaster takes us on a deep dive into the world of board gaming, its creators, and its players. We learn about the origin of games such as Exploding Kittens, and the famous Settlers of Catan. Heather and B.C. talk to director, Charles Mruz, and producer, Jimmy Nguyen about the making of their film and their future in becoming Gamemasters.
Cast of Characters:
Charlie Bink……….....Creator of Trekking
Elan Lee…………...........Creator of Exploding Kittens
Gamemaster is distributed by Gravitas Ventures (gravitasventures.com)
Meet Charles and Jimmy; real-life friends who play tabletop games together and made this documentary together. Jimmy is also the producer of Barista and Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show. Charles’ 10 minutes of fame (other than this film) came from playing “Cute Waiter” on TheReal Housewives of Beverly Hills. We think he will have more than 10 minutes in his future The games they are currently playing are Dominion, Terraforming Mars, Wingspan, and Splendor.
B.C. Wehman: Have you ever wanted to trek the national parks?
Heather Grayson: Escape an arranged marriage? Play Russian roulette with kittens?
B.C. Wehman: Or experience thug life on the streets? That's what the four gamemasters we meet in this film set out to do.
Heather Grayson: We meet Charlie Bink who created the game Trekking around his parents' dreams of visiting all the national parks.
B.C. Wehman: Elan Lee, one of the masterminds behind the hit Exploding Kittens.
Heather Grayson: Nashra Balagamwala, who designed Arranged as a way of coping with her culture's views on arranged marriages and Jason Serrato, who's taking his diverse childhood and turning it into an experience everyone can have in Thug Life.
B.C. Wehman: We will also meet the creator of Settlers of Catan and learn just what it takes to become a gamemaster.
Heather Grayson: Hi, I'm Heather Grayson, writer, producer, and director, who craves passion in filmmaking, and documentarians are just that. I write fiction, but I love to watch the truth.
B.C. Wehman: My name is B.C. Wehman. I'm an actor, a writer, an entertainer, all sorts of creative endeavors, but what I love most, being a storyteller. It's why I love documentaries. They're extraordinary stories from everyday extraordinary people.
Heather Grayson: This is Behind the Doc and today we are behind the scenes of Gamemaster.
Speaker 5: When I was a kid, I remember finding this magazine that my dad had laying around, and I was stumbling through it. And I came across this picture and I saw this guy in it. He was wearing a business suit and a tie, kind of looked like my dad a little bit. But there was all this weird stuff in the picture. There was this weird red bird in the background and there was this dude in a lab coat, looked like a scientist, and this weird large object covered by a red sheet. And I was trying to figure out what was going on. And so I looked at the caption and underneath it said, "Marvin Glass, game inventor." And I was like, "Game inventor?" I didn't even think that was a job.
B.C. Wehman: Welcome everyone to Behind the Doc, the podcast where we take a deep dive into documentary filmmaking and the people that make them. We are very excited today to be joined by Charles Mruz and Jimmy Nguyen, the director and producer behind a really, I find, fascinating film that takes us behind the scenes of designing a board game. I don't know if you realized how much goes into it and we are not talking simple board games, though, we'll find out some about the mechanics and the flavor as we go forward. Jimmy, Charles, welcome to the show. How are you doing today?
Jimmy Nguyen: Good. Good. Thanks for having us.
Charles Mruz: Yeah. Thank you.
B.C. Wehman: Well, let's get started right off the bat. Just give us a real quick how you got to Gamemasters. We'll go from Gamemasters there, but just a little bit of background and bio, where you've been, what you've learned and how we came to talk to you today.
Jimmy Nguyen: Charles and a couple other friends, we started playing board games heavily and I give Charles credit for bringing the fever into me by introducing me to a game called Puerto Rico. And so we started playing it all the time. Then it led to us going to board game conventions a couple months later, and then we got really into that. In Los Angeles, there's one called Strategicon that happens three times a year. We started just going to it all the time, mostly playing in Settlers of Catan tournaments.
Jimmy Nguyen: About like a year into it, I would turn to Charles. I was like, "Man, this is such a fascinating community." I was joking with Charles about my next doc being about board games. I wasn't very serious until I met somebody who had made their own board game at home and was hawking it at these conventions. I really loved the sales pitch. I really loved the narrative behind why they made it. I just had this Eureka moment and I told Charles, I was like, "Okay. I think I know what the board game doc is going to be about. We're going to follow a handful of creators from concept to Target shelf. We're just going to explore the industry and try to understand it ourselves and unravel the whole world for people." And Charles was like, "That's a great idea. Who's going to direct this?" And I'm like "You, of course." I don't know if Charles thought I was serious in that moment, but that was the beginning of it. Then I think we started moving pretty quickly after that. I'll let Charles take over and talk about it from when he came in.
Charles Mruz: Well, I'll tell you, it's funny, the other side of that. I went to film school. I'd made a couple of short films and production was always just this uphill battle, because when you have no money and no resources, you do everything yourself. I remember telling ... I was settling into just the idea of not doing production anymore. I'd kind of fallen out of love with it and I think I told Jimmy, "I don't know that I'm interested in production anymore. I don't think I want to do it. I think I've fallen out of love with it and if I never do production again, I'll be okay with it."
Charles Mruz: Then three weeks later, he said, "How would you like to direct this documentary?" I was like, "I'm in." I mean, there is some truth to that. Jimmy has a short memory, thankfully, because as soon as he said it to me, I did think he was serious and I knew that yes was the right answer. That just tells you something that just when you think that you feel a certain way about something, it becomes really clear how you actually feel about it when you start to have a realistic conversation about it. Because without hesitation, I said, "This is a great idea. We should do it."
Speaker 5: I think everyone on earth has played and enjoyed some kind of tabletop game. They're just so universal. Whether they played them when they were younger, whether it's something they've learned to play when they're older, whether it was something that was within their family, tabletop games are almost just a universal phenomenon.
B.C. Wehman: Let's take it back then. So you got this idea, you get together, you got Charles as your director, Jimmy, and both of you agree, you're going to make it. How do you pick amongst all these folks? How did you settle on the ones that we ended up following and saw during Gamemasters?
Charles Mruz: I knew that the board game industry was so sprawling and so big. How do you even begin to give people an idea and also get people interested? And I knew that this movie, whatever the movie was at the end of the day, it had to be interesting to somebody who hasn't played a board game since they were five. I always say go to the place where the people are doing the thing that you're talking about. In this case it was board game conventions. We'd go there. We'd talk to people. We'd see people selling their game that they've self-published, or they've created that they're working on, something in a prototype stage, all sorts. And I would go up and I'd ask them two questions. I'd say, "Tell me about your game and why did you make it?" And based on what they said, if they had a good answer for those two questions, and I talked to them more, learned about their work habits and more of their personal story.
Jimmy Nguyen: Yeah. At the end of the day, while this movie is about board games, we really wanted it to be an exploration about craft and a passion of art, and that you feel more towards the characters than their games by the time the movie's over. My dream was always for people to connect with the creators more than anything.
Scott Rogers: All right this is my bookshelf, a very messy bookshelf, where I have all my sketchbooks and these are where I keep track of my game ideas. There's a whole bunch of them there. These are Scott's Book of Great Ideas and I have them numbered. This one is number 28. I think I'm up to about 30 now. I carry a sketchbook with me wherever I go.
B.C. Wehman: And we want to talk a little bit about the four main subjects that we followed. Let's start with Scott Rogers with his game, Rayguns and Rocketships. What was appealing about Scott and what aspects ... or what did we learn about Scott?
Jimmy Nguyen: We were at Strategicon just hanging out one of the weekends and I see somebody across the convention floor wearing a shirt with the box art of Rayguns and Rocketships on it. I'm like, "That is Scott Rogers. That has to be him." And so I walked up to him, introduced myself, told him what we were doing. I said, "I would love to introduce you to my director." I just gave him the quick spiel and then I told Charles about him. Then from there, Charles asked his questions, fell in love with him. And I think he was probably the first definitely-for-sure character that was going to be in the movie.
Charles Mruz: I have a different opinion. I think it was Charlie Bink, but that's up for contention.
Jimmy Nguyen: Yeah. Yeah.
Charles Mruz: Because I remember you meeting Scott Rogers, talking to him. You gave me his card. I turned around to Jimmy and I said, "What the hell am I going to do with this guy?" But talking to Scott more and more, it became clear what I was going to do with this guy and that was put him in the movie in a big way. I'm really glad that we kept talking because he's a big part of the movie.
Jimmy Nguyen: His story about surviving cancer, I didn't even know that yet. It wasn't until Charles had talked to him where we started to find that stuff out. The main reason why I wanted him for the doc was because he had put so much love in this prototype and I wanted to learn more about his experience of putting it together. That was my first attraction to him, why he made such a fascinating character. But then Charles unraveled everything else.
Speaker 12: One of the best prototypes that has been presented to us is Rayguns and Rocketships. Presented to me in a box that was beautiful. It was a well done prototype. Our initial reaction when we saw the game was this was a great genre to make a game with. It's not oversaturated in the pulpy Sci-Fi era. I can immediately tell that the designer of that game really had a love for that genre.
Heather Grayson: I really loved how you guys told the story of each one of your subjects and his cancer story and how he went through it and he developed this while he was going through chemo and the whole story behind Arranged and what she did to bring out and what she's going to be hopefully doing for women who are dealing with these things. That was a great thing to put in for somebody like me.
Nashra Balagamwala: It started off actually as a class project where initially my professor was like, "Make something that's important to you." The one thing that has bothered me forever has been arranged marriages. I have been, or my parents have tried to make me a victim of it. A lot of my friends have been in similar situations that they haven't had a way out. That was the topic. I knew immediately that the topic was arranged marriage.
Nashra Balagamwala: My name is Nashra Balagamwala. I am the designer of Arranged, which is a board game about running away from arranged marriages. It's a game that forces participants to confront the struggles that South Asian girls face when being forced into an arranged marriage.
Heather Grayson: How did you discover her? How did you discover Nashra?
Charles Mruz: As we, myself, one of the directors of photography, Michael Cox, and producer Wallace Ross, the three of us were in a car driving across the United States and interviewing various people along the way, we found ourselves stationed in Connecticut, which is where Wally's parents live. So we were staying with them for a second. And we had like a little bit of a break where I was going over questions for upcoming people, going over what we'd already done, that sort of stuff, and I came across this article on the internet about Nashra Balagamwala and this board game called Arranged. And I'm like, "I have got to get her in this movie." So I get on the phone, try calling her, I try emailing her, I try maybe Instagramming her. I don't even remember. Any way that was available to me I tried. And it was about three or four hours.
Charles Mruz: And finally I get her on the phone and I say, "This is what we're doing. Doing a documentary. This is who we've talked to. This is what's upcoming. Please be in it." And after a while of convincing her that we weren't crazy people, she finally said yes. And then she said, "I should tell you one thing though." And I said, "Okay." And she says, "My Visa expires in two days and I am leaving the country." And I said, "Okay, where in the United States are you?" And she said, "I'm in Brooklyn." And I said, "Great. We're in Connecticut. I will see you tomorrow." So we drive down to Brooklyn and we interview her and then the next day she packs up her stuff and leaves.
Heather Grayson: And so the film footage that we got from her in Pakistan, that was her film footage solely?
Charles Mruz: No. So there's a great story behind this. So she's in Pakistan, right? And I WhatsApp her, or one of the things. I contact her and I say, "Nashra, we need footage of you in Pakistan." And she's like, "How am I supposed to do that?" And I say, "Just use your phone." And she's like, "I don't know what to do." And I said, "Okay, I'll walk you through the settings and I'll walk you through the framing of things, but just get it." And she's like, "I don't ... who's going to shoot this?" And I said, "Literally anybody you can get to shoot this." And she said, "Okay."
Charles Mruz: And so what ended up happening is she was staying with her parents at Pakistan and she had her maid shoot the footage.
Heather Grayson: Oh wow.
Charles Mruz: Her maid, who is an excellent photographer, by the way, a hidden talent, she shot probably five shots and three of them are in the movie. So she's got the highest footage shot to footage used ratio. I was like, "Hey, what's your maid's name? Because we've got to credit her in the credits. She did a really good job." And that was a really exciting moment for her maid actually.
Heather Grayson: That's amazing. That's a great story. This is why we like doing this because these are wonderful layers of what it takes to make a documentary.
B.C. Wehman: One of my favorite, I guess, subjects is Charlie Bink.
Charlie Bink: My name is Charlie Bink and I am the creator of Trekking the National Parks.
Charlie Bink: I think the theme of trekking is its initial pull for almost anyone is they see, "Oh, it's a game about the National Parks." You almost never see that without it being like, "Quizzes for ages eight and up." I really wanted the box and everything about it to say, "Hey, this is a game. It's about the National Parks, but don't worry, you're not opening a textbook. It's a game that's about that."
B.C. Wehman: A lot of people get started out, they want to turn to maybe their parents or family members for assistance. And Charlie's tale helped provide maybe a bit of a roadmap or some words of advice to head down there. How did we meet Charlie, his game, and then what was it like working with him? And then as you unfolded, probably didn't know initially, some of the family way that work behind the scenes, learning that and how they run their business together and what it was like for all of the banks to work together.
Charles Mruz: The funny thing about Charlie, obviously I had no idea at that moment that there'd be all of this family contention and I was not counting on it.
Charlie Bink: My parents are older. They're retired. They've worked. They're ready to be retired and enjoy their legacy. And then sort of just, wow, at the same time, their legacy has sort of manifested into a physical product. This is great.
Charlie Bink: I mean, if I'm going to be really honest, running the business with my parents, running it with them, has been hugely turbulent. Hugely turbulent. I can't say it's brought us closer together. It's changed how we interact with each other. It's not the same relationship as it was before the game. I think if you ask them, they would say a lot has changed because of it.
Charles Mruz: As we were shooting more and more stuff kept happening. I would check in with them every couple of months and be like, "Hey, what's going on?" And he would tell me, "Oh, this stuff's happening." And I would be like, "We've got to go back to Phoenix and shoot this." Literally when we were about to wrap film, more stuff was still happening. And his story got resolved not even a month before that, as far as things being good with them and it ending the way it ended. I don't want to spoil anything if people haven't seen it.
Heather Grayson: It's definitely a far cry from when we are talking with Klaus and his kids and the creator of Settlers of Catan. It's very different feeling. They are a family working together. This is a family business.
Klaus Teuber: Catan is, since 2002, a family business. It was too much work for me. So one day, when Guido was here, my other son, and we had a walk, and this poor guy declared and explained, "Okay, I could not do that alone. I need someone to help me. Will you look on the market who can help me?" Then Guido said, "Okay, why not me?"
Heather Grayson: Klaus, he ended up building this game himself and then he brought on his family. Maybe that's sort of the way it works out better, in watching the documentary, instead of all coming together at the very forefront, because those major decisions were just made by Klaus at that time. How did you like working and going and traveling to Germany to talk to this family?
Charles Mruz: It was fantastic. Klaus, when we were about to talk to Klaus, I had heard Wally and Mike be like, "What's he going to be like?" I have no idea what he's going to be like." Because we thought, "Oh, he created this game that has so much power behind it and there's so much recognition behind it. And it's kind of thought of as the game in the hobby industry. Is he going to be arrogant? Is he going to be a hot shot? Because he almost has earned that right. And then this guy walks out of his office and he's this old grandpa figure. And he was the sweetest man ever. And so it was kind of a surprise for them. He is nothing but a delight to talk to.
B.C. Wehman: So we have Klaus Teuber who we meet, who is kind of, as you said, a person who has helped birth hobby gaming into existence. But on the flip end, as far as already established designers, we meet Elan Lee.
Elan Lee: I have a friend, Shane Small, who said, "What if we tried to build Russian Roulette out of cards and how would that work and what would it look like?" And we started tinkering with the idea over the course of a few weeks. And we created this game called Bomb Squad, which was literally a deck of poker cards that we took a Sharpie and scribbled all over. This card, if you draw this one, you explode. It's the bomb. We scribbled all over these cards and we played it with a bunch of friends and it worked great. Everyone became so addicted to this game.
Elan Lee: We got the game to a really good place, a place where everyone we showed it to really enjoyed playing. And one of the people that we showed it to was Matt Inman, who draws the Oatmeal, creator of the Oatmeal. He looked at it and he said, "Guys, this is amazing. This is the most fun I've ever had playing a card game. But it has no soul. What if you let me partner with you guys and we'll make just two changes. One, you let me illustrate all the cards and add a little bit of that soul to it. And two is we rename it from bomb squad to Exploding Kittens because the internet." And those were two really, really good decisions and Exploding Kittens was born.
B.C. Wehman: I thought it was a nice counterbalance to bring us to the original what started this, and then the new era and probably one of the most successful tales of it. Because his tale really is an anomaly, I think, in that Kickstarter era of game designing.
Jimmy Nguyen: I don't know if you remember this Charles, but I had wanted Elan because-
Charles Mruz: I had wanted Elan!
Jimmy Nguyen: Well I feel like you didn't want to cover Exploding Kittens in the beginning. I felt like you didn't-
Charles Mruz: No, I feel like you didn't want to!
Jimmy Nguyen: No, it was my idea!
Charles Mruz: No, no. It was not your idea. That is false.
Jimmy Nguyen: 100% my idea.
Charles Mruz: Tell me how we met him then. I know how he met him. Do you remember?
Jimmy Nguyen: I actually don't remember-
Charles Mruz: That's because-
Jimmy Nguyen: But I know I wanted him!
Charles Mruz: Well I remember putting the game Exploding Kittens in front of you and you being lukewarm about it at first.
Jimmy Nguyen: Yes. Admittedly, I was not fond of the game in the beginning. Admittedly. And it wasn't until we got the expansion and then it was super hilarious to us. But the original one, yes, I was not a huge fan of. But I definitely wanted to talk to him because of his story because of the Kickstarter thing.
Charles Mruz: Yeah. Here's what I'll say. When we were trying to figure out who to talk to and who to go over, I thought Exploding Kittens was important because it was the first game on Kickstarter that said, "Hey, you cannot ignore games on Kickstarter. They are a real thing. You have to pay attention to all games now." And they were the first ones to really do that. At the time, I think, they might have raised the most money out of anything ever and they definitely had the most individual backers of any item on Kickstarter ever, not just games. But I thought, because I knew Matt Inman, who does the Oatmeal, I knew he was in Seattle, I thought they were in Seattle too.
Charles Mruz: This is the way we got hooked up with Elan. I was working a job at a restaurant and one of the regulars came in and we just started chatting. And he was like ... I told him what I'm doing. "I'm doing a documentary. It's about board game designers." And Jimmy can attest to this, that when you tell people about it, you frequently hear someone say, "Oh, my friend's doing a board game." And you say, "Well, what game? It's like, "Oh, it's Rocky and the Judge." It's some weird game that you've never heard of that went nowhere and has like a hundred copies. And you go, "Oh, okay. That's nice." And you go about your day.
Charles Mruz: So this guy says, "Oh, I have a friend who created a board game. And I said, "Oh really? What game?" And he says, "Exploding Kittens." And I go, "You are kidding me." So I got this guy's email and he hooked us up.
Jimmy Nguyen: Yeah, that interview was amazing. I think after we had shot it, just listening to him, talk for however many hours we had shot, it was just so inspiring that I turned to Charles and I was like, "Charles, I think we have a movie. I think we found our footing. I feel very confident going forward." Because that interview was just so spectacular and it ended up being a major foundation for the documentary.
Elan Lee: The way that we approached Kickstarter was very different from the way most people do. Originally, our goal on Kickstarter was "Okay, we've got this cool game idea. We'll put it up on Kickstarter. Let's try to raise $10,000. That will allow us to print up 500 copies of the game. That's all we need to do. That's the minimum print run our manufacturer needs. It's a little weekend project. None of us are really taking this seriously. That will be our goal." We hit that in seven minutes.
Elan Lee: The game eventually went on to surpass the $10,000 mark and eventually made nine million dollars on Kickstarter, breaking every Kickstarter record.
B.C. Wehman: So the last of our designers that we meet, Jason, is one who's trying to come up. He's like the rest. He's trying to create a game. But unlike some of the rest, he's drawing on ... I mean most of them draw upon their influences, but his game seems to not only struggling to get there, whether it's not understanding his audience, having a learning process through price points, but then also developing material that some people may not like. Some people may have an issue, may not. What was it like with Jason and his story and the game Thug Life?
Jason Serrato: I've always created games. Ever since I was a kid, I was always working on something. And I think back, when people ask me, "Why do you create games? What was the first game you created?" I never really thought about it. It was like Dungeons and Dragons. It was just an effortless sort of drive. This is what I would do in my spare time.
Jason Serrato: My name is Jason Serrato. I'm the designer of Thug Life.
Charles Mruz: Jimmy, I feel like you met Jason first.
Jimmy Nguyen: Yeah. He would have a booth as Strategicon every convention. And it was very ... you could see it because he had a huge standee with one of the characters on it. It was one of the female characters. And it's kind of in your face. And I don't know if it was a marketing tactic for him, but you would see it and you're like, "What is this?" And it's kind of a WTF moment. So you go and then you meet him and he's like the sweetest guy.
Jimmy Nguyen: The reason why I liked him, and I think out of everybody, I connected with him the most because I've been through a lot, what he went through with his game. When I first came to LA, it was very hard to be ... I'm Vietnamese. And it was very hard to be myself and make things based on my background. You end up getting a lot of people in Hollywood talking you out of it. That was my experience in the beginning. It was very sad for me because I didn't know how to be this thing that other people wanted. I saw a lot of the same struggles with what he was doing. Here was a Mexican guy making a game based on his upbringing and the people he grew up around and people were telling him how it was inappropriate. He had to fight through it every way. Through the first Kickstarter, through the second Kickstarter. I think till this day, people still criticize it in a lot of ways.
Jason Serrato: Thug Life is a miniature combat crime simulation board game where you take on the role of a boss and you control a gang of thugs in the streets. You're committing crimes, doing drive-bys. I like to say a cons fun for the whole family, sort of thing that always gives people a big chuckle. If I could just get a few kids off the real streets to play in these phony streets, I think that's a win in my book.
Jimmy Nguyen: We wanted to let him tell his story in his own words and just follow that, but he ... I mean he was very exciting to me from the get go because he's an outlier compared to all the other designers we were coming across at that time. There was somebody who didn't make it in movie but he said something to me that stuck with me, which was how he was tired of playing games that were all about Europeans trading in the Mediterranean. And when you stand back and you look at the hobby, you see a lot of games like that. And I told Charles, "I want to find as many people of color as we can." When you love something, you have to bring a critical eye to it. And one of the first things we noticed about the board gaming industry was that there was not a lot of people of color in it. Not a lot of women in it. And it was very interesting because it's not an overtly racist industry. It just somehow is like that.
Heather Grayson: Yeah, he definitely broke a lot of molds when it came to the documentary in itself and just learning about the history of a lot of the people who do create these documentaries. I loved ... and the talk about diversity. I think that I understand where some people could see his work, Jason's work, and say, "Ooh, that might be a little too much." But there's a whole bunch of other games out there that probably are too much. We just haven't really thought about it. I loved how you put that through.
Charles Mruz: I'll say, Jason to me probably has the most complex inner conflict of anybody because he's a guy that grew up poor, wanted the toys, couldn't afford the toys. Now he's grown up, he's in a position to make the toys. Make the toys he would've wanted when he was a kid. But he found that in doing that, he has made toys that the kid that he was couldn't afford. I think it's just infinitely fascinating and almost unresolvable.
B.C. Wehman: When you meet all these game designers, and you met a lot, ones we didn't include, is there a trait between them that you find? Whether it's artistic or just business background, is there something you found, like a personality trait that is somewhat inherently ... it helps them become a game designer or is it truly anyone can make a game?
Charles Mruz: I mean, I think anyone can make a game. Especially with Kickstarter, your subject matter, you're not limited by the gatekeepers anymore. There's a literally a game about everything. There's a game about quilting. There are multiple games about poop. More than ever now, anybody can make a game.
Speaker 13: So this game is called Who Farted? And it's basically Go Fish meets Clue with fart noises added in.
Heather Grayson: Do you guys ever think to yourself, "I can build a game. I can do this. I can develop something"?
Jimmy Nguyen: 100%. Oh yeah. That's my favorite ... the biggest joy for me is whenever one of my friends watches the movie, they want to make a game afterwards. And while we were doing this, I felt like, "Man, me and Charles, we've collected so much information, we know all the major players, We could really do it." I want to now for sure. I want to make a game. I want to go through the whole thing. Actually, here's an interesting piece of history on Gamemaster. Charles, do you remember one of the original premises of Gamemaster that I had pitched to you?
Charles Mruz: Yeah, I do. And I'm glad we didn't do it.
Jimmy Nguyen: Why don't you tell them?
Charles Mruz: Okay. So Jimmy said to me ... the story he told you earlier, it was a little bit false only because he didn't say, "We should follow designers trying to make a game and get it to the shelves at Target from an idea." He said to me, "I'm going to make a game. I'm going to make a game. You're going to follow me. I'm going to be the star. I'm going to do it. This game is going to be at Target." And I was like, "Okay. Yeah, let's do it."
Jimmy Nguyen: This was my first roadblock. This is what discouraged me. I was like, "I am not an interesting character. Forget me." But I have made a card game and I had brought it over to Charles' place. He lives with one of the producers, Sharon and Rachel, who worked on the movie with us, and they played my game and it really sucked and they were really bored and it was a horrible experience for me. And I was like, "It's not going to be about me. I don't care about me."
Speaker 5: [inaudible 00:30:53], for my money, is the best convention in tabletop gaming. It's this weekend where all these game designers converge to share their game prototypes. For me, it's one of the more important events of the year because it's a place I can not only debut my games, but I also get play-testing from some really smart game designers. And it's great to get feedback from regular people, but getting it from game designers, they can very quickly focus in on why the game is good or bad.
B.C. Wehman: Jimmy Nguyen and Charles Murray, director and producer of Gamemasters, we could talk to you forever. There's so much more I feel like we could talk about, but you have been amazing guests. It's great to hear your stories. It's clear you have a friendship, albeit sometimes poking each other, which makes for amazing conversation. Thank you for joining us. Though Charles, I will say I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you this before I leave, because you've put so much work and effort and blood, sweat, and tears into this film, do you think in the end you are more remembered for this artistic endeavor in Gamemasters or as the cute waiter on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? Like which one do you think really propels you to fame and fortune?
Charles Mruz: Oh my gosh. Honestly, I'll be honest, sadly, more people messaged me about the Real Housewives of Beverly Hill's appearance. That's how I found out it was on. I got 10 texts in the span of an hour, like, "Oh, you were on Real Housewives." And I was like, "Oh, I guess it aired."
Jimmy Nguyen: He didn't tell anybody. He didn't tell anybody.
Heather Grayson: I get why you didn't want to tell anybody. It's fine.
Charles Mruz: And I'll say this, I watched the episode and I was shocked how much screen time I got. I was like, "Man, they are running out of material on that show if they're giving me this much camera time."
Heather Grayson: Well I just want to let you know that ... I mean honestly B.C. did bring this to us and say, "Hey, can we do this interview?" And I was a little like, "Okay." I mean, I'm always-
B.C. Wehman: Let's be honest, there are people listening here who did not love this idea.
Heather Grayson: But I was pleasantly pleasantly surprised because a lot of times you think of a documentary, sometimes it's going to be a little more dry and just explain some information, but this really got involved into so many different things and diversity and storytelling and tragedy and relationships. I really, really enjoyed it. So thank you very much both of you. You did a great job.
Charles Mruz: Thank you. Can I say something about that a little bit? One of the things that Nashra's mother said when she said, "Hey, I'm in this movie, it's about board games and stuff," her mother's reaction was, "This is an hour and a half? Who's going to want to watch an hour and a half movie about board games?" And that is actually the mentality that I walked into making this movie with.
B.C. Wehman: Gamemasters is an amazing film. And thank you, Jimmy, thank you, Charles for joining us. We had a great time and we hope to talk to you soon.
Jimmy Nguyen: Thanks for having us.
Charles Mruz: Thank you.
Speaker 5: I'm happy that I did it as a family because I did not have the tools or the resources to do it alone.
Jason Serrato: So we just finished the Kickstarter and it was a crazy ride. Had a really interesting time. I mean, there was a lot of results that we were expecting and there was definitely a lot of surprises. A bittersweet journey throughout, but at the end of the day it was extremely positive and we actually were able to connect with a pretty, pretty excited crew of backers.
Speaker 5: I've been looking forward to this moment for a long time. All I really wanted was this game to be real and here it is. It's real. It's on the shelf. It exists as a thing for people to buy and it's really cool.
Nashra Balagamwala: For the past year I have been traveling, speaking at places, such as human rights conventions, game design conferences, women's empowerment events, and I've gotten the opportunity to do all of this because of my game. I've also come back to America because the Visa that I got was based off of this game, and now I'm pursuing my career. I'm living the lovely freelance life, doing whatever it is I want to do and it's all because of Arranged.
Heather Grayson: Thanks for listening to this episode of Behind the Doc. If you liked us, because we all know you did, leave us a review in your Apple Podcast app.
B.C. Wehman: Behind the Doc is produced by Evergreen Podcasts in association with Gravitas Ventures.
Heather Grayson: Special thanks to executive producers, Nolan Gallagher and Michael DeAloia.
B.C. Wehman: Produced by Sarah Willgrube.
Heather Grayson: And audio engineer, Eric Coltnow.
B.C. Wehman: And you'll find us everywhere and anywhere you listen to your favorite podcast.