With an empire of geeks behind him, Chris Hardwick is ready to take on the movie business.
Yes, the creator of Nerdist Industries, which has dominated the worlds of podcasting and frankly all things Internet is teaming with Tribeca Film to release its first film, this year’s SXSW Audience Award-winner “Zero Charisma” (opening in theaters on Friday and out on VOD now).
The debut feature from directors Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews follows the hilarious antics of Scott (Sam Eidson), a snobbish adult super geek who serves as grand master over a Dungeons & Dragons-like board game of his creation. But when his beloved game is interrupted in year three of playing after one of the players’ leaves (to try to salvage his marriage), the realities of life suddenly crash down on Scott. The film was brought to Hardwick’s attention by his podcasting mate Jonah Ray, and he instantly connected with it.
“It really brought me back to me playing D&D when I was a kid,” Hardwick tells Film.com while taking a break from prepping his new show on Comedy Central. “It felt like a love letter to that particular culture.”
Hardwick admits that he and his team at Nerdist, which includes CEO Peter Levin (known most recently for co-creating GeekChicDaily), have not been actively looking for films to distribute but with Zero Charisma they saw a title that was a natural extension to the content Nerdist already does—everything from a podcast network to a news division (Nerdist News) to an extension of the Nerdist Podcast on BBC America to a YouTube Channel—and thought the company could do more for the film than just release it under their banner.
“I come from a live events background,” he says. “So it would be fun to go into a town and screen the movie and do a podcast and have a nice live experience.”
Which he says is in the works for the promotion of "Zero Charisma".
And Hardwick isn’t just thinking of ways of getting attention for “Zero Charisma” on its opening weekend, he’s thinking long term. Comparing the movie to “Napoleon Dynamite” or “The Big Lebowski”, films that have built a cult status over years, he wants to build out events across the country that can lay a foundation for a word of mouth that will grow and build out other like-minded events and form around the film through time. “It’s not showing a movie and being done with it,” says Hardwick about Nerdist getting into releasing films. “It’s having something that you can build a community around.”
Like all things with Nerdist, which Hardwick created in 2010 when starting The Nerdist Podcast following a career filled with stand-up comedy work and hosting gigs on shows like Singled Out and Web Soup, Hardwick only wants to do it if he loves it and that’s the same with acquiring movies. He says they don’t have any quota and not to be surprised if they don’t nab another title for another year or two. “I don’t want to make a mistake of thinking we have to distribute a bunch of titles,” he says. “I want to make sure we take time with this process and understand it and that it makes sense.”
He goes on to say, “We need to make sure we get involved with stuff we really, really do love from top to bottom and that it makes sense for us.”
"Zero Charisma" is now available on VOD, and it opens in theaters on October 11th.