*As a note, the intro for this was written by Steph from TTRPGkids, and the below description was written by the game’s creator
Session Zero is a feature-length documentary about growing up, nostalgia and Dungeons & Dragons! The project has been four years in the making and is coming to the end of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to complete the film and bring it to audiences.
The film follows a group of young boys who meet every week to play D&D. The fantasy and escapism helps them through the turbulence of adolescence, anxiety and autism diagnoses. Over three years, Dungeon Master Thomas’s dedication to the game is unwavering but the group are pulled in different directions as they come of age.
The film is for all ages (but likely to be of more interest to children of 10 years and up and especially to teenagers). Depending on the age of a viewer, it may be reflecting their past or present! Session Zero takes influence from 80s classic coming-of-age films such as The Goonies (1985), Stand by Me (1986) and the more recent TV sensation Stranger Things.
I’m a Scotish-Algerian, documentary filmmaker and Session Zero will be my first feature film. Two of the central characters, Thomas and Sam, are my little brothers. As their big sister, I’ve had uniquely close access to their world. Through this, I’ve tried to capture adolescence in an intimate and nuanced way. As I’ve watched my brothers grow up I’ve seen the joy of being young and gaining independence along with the discomfort that can come with these changes.
I feel that people of this age are rarely in the media expressing their opinions and that is a major loss. These boys have a lot to say that needs to be heard. Two of the central characters have ASD (Formerly diagnosed as Asperger’s Syndrome) and their diagnosis processes happen over the filming period. The film will represent their autism in a way that is honest and non-sensationalist. They do not want to be defined by this and I want this film to contribute to a positive representation of autistic people in the media.
Children’s and young people’s mental health has taken a steep decline in the past few years. In 2022, 18.0% of children aged 7 to 16 years and 22.0% of young people aged 17 to 24 years had a probable mental disorder. This group show incredible strength in their ability to be open about their mental health. I hope that Session Zero will contribute to conversations around this topic and show the benefits of playing fantasy tabletop roleplaying games.
I’ve come to realise that the kinship I’ve seen in this Dungeons & Dragons party is not uncommon. The D&D community is a strong and supportive one. I hope that by telling this coming-of-age story there will be audience members out there who feel seen and represented on screen.
If you’re interested you can watch the trailer on Kickstarter and help Session Zero in its final push to be brought to life!
Check out this awesome kickstarter to support the creator, and, if you liked this post, make sure to subscribe to the TTRPGkids monthly newsletter to stay up to date on the latest reviews, tips and tricks, game and podcast list updates, and more! Thank you for playing tabletop RPGs with your kids and sharing this awesome hobby with the next generation!