Ever watch a documentary and think somebody made it just for you? The Dwarvenaut is a documentary about Stefan Pokorny, an artist, entrepreneur, and Dungeons & Dragons aficionado. When I saw it available on Netflix, I mistook it for just another profile of geek culture. While it definitely falls into that category, it more importantly chronicles a man who has, despite struggles, turned his love of art and role-playing games into a successful business. He’s living the dream so many of us wish we could, spending his days creating what he loves and still making ends meet.
Perhaps I’m biased, since I sit at the very core of this documentary’s demographic. The desire to somehow make a living predominately with my imagination is foremost in my thoughts on any given day. Right behind those dreams, reality obnoxiously stomps and hollers about practicality, responsibility, priorities, and statistical improbabilities. Thankfully for some of us, our dreams can still be heard above all the doubts within and naysayers in society. Some can even stand up to reality and command it to fall in line and work alongside their creative ambitions. One of those is Pokorny, and I rooted for his success through the whole documentary.
The film isn’t without flaws. We can see his rough start in childhood, school, and career endeavors. The current day portions of the film explain the state of his business and follow his third Kick Starter campaign, this one to fund his dream project. But the middle of the story seemed lacking. The first two Kick Starter campaigns only received limited descriptions. Lessons were learned from them, but there was little elaboration. Pokorny confesses that he’s not good at the day-to-day business aspects of owning a company. I would have liked to learn more about the failures that taught him to succeed. Perhaps they didn’t make the final cut of the documentary. At any rate, it left me wanting, and I will have to research it on my own.
Where the documentary really shines is in its ability to capture Pokorny’s personality and life philosophy. I hope this was accurate, because it was truly the most moving side of the film. To witness his passion, bravery, and gratitude brought tears to my eyes. It made me want to emulate those qualities in my pursuit of my writing career and in other areas of my life. Certainly they are integral to his success and happiness. It has prompted me to recommend the documentary to others, even those who don’t understand the appeal of Dungeons & Dragons. I dare say, there are people who could understand me better by watching it because it affected me so viscerally.
I’m glad that I either stumbled across The Dwarvenaut or Netflix recommended it to me via its algorithms. I wish I had seen it 20 years ago, when I was still listening to reality tell me I shouldn’t pursue my dreams. Reality will always be there, droning its rhetoric, and ignoring it is not a solution. Giving yourself permission to argue with it and win, on the other hand, is something we all owe ourselves.
If you should somehow take time to read this, Stefan Pokorny, thank you for choosing to live your dream and share it with me.