The State of the Maradonia Movie


Over the past month I’d been writing a detailed analysis of the state of the Maradonia movie, breaking down what we know, what we didn’t know, and what could be inferred from the semi-frequent posting of pictures to the Maradonia Facebook page. Then, just the other day, the Tesches up and released their movie trailer, which simultaneously answered the majority of my questions while negating the majority of my analysis. Thanks, guys!

At the time of writing, it’s April 2013, and Team Tesch seems completely focused on this movie. The final book in the Maradonia “Saga” was scheduled for publication in 2012 but has been more or less abandoned: there have been no updates regarding the publication date or any news regarding the climactic book in this tale whatsoever in over a year. It’s reasonable to assume there have been delays – hopefully because they’re extensively rewriting it – but the Tesches not acknowledging the delay leads me to believe they’re not even thinking about it.

Which is odd, since they have plenty of time. While Team Tesch is all about the movie, we know that Gloria has had time to post insipid videos to YouTube that are devoid of any content or even rational coherent thought, modeling on the runway, posting highly sexualized pictures of herself online, waxing philosophical about the state of today’s youth while taking the moral high ground over Jersey shore, and of course, directing and starring in the film adaption of her work.

What do we know about the project? The ball got rolling back in mid-2011, when Gerry Tesch apparently attempted to fuck over a few of his business partners, such as the director Troy Bowman and the cinematographer, Paulian Morris.


Gloria announced via newsletter that she hoped the movie would be finished by the end of April 2011. It’s now two years later and they appear to have about six minutes of godawful footage that they are shooting on a Canon Rebel T3i with a basic 18-55mm lens, which retails for about $550.


Now, I have nothing against the T3i – I own the exact same model camera, and for that price, it’s hard to beat it for shooting digital video. I’ve personally shot short films on it and they look great. However, if I had the money, I would upgrade to a better camera in a heartbeat. The fact that the Tesches have not done so is indicative they can’t afford to do so.

In the first version of this article, I spent most of the time talking about the single most important issue: money. We know that her parents have deep pockets, and there’s evidence that they have been able to talk a few others into investing. However, unlike book publishing, filmmaking is incredibly expensive. Even if you’re renting and borrowing equipment, calling in favors, blackmailing friends and family, and convincing actors to work for free because it will “build their IMDB resume” – moving trucks to build artificial caves and driving numerous vehicles out to different locations in Florida is not cheap.

Here’s the thing: no matter how hard you try, you cannot make a good fantasy movie cheaply. There’s a specific reason that most cheaply made independent films are set in modern times and have minimal special effects or excessive choreography, and the reason is that all of those things are fucking expensive. It’s true that some films can be made for the comparatively low price of $30,000, such as Kevin Smith’s Clerks. But let’s take a closer look at the actual costs for a film like that:

  • Shot almost entirely at a Qwik Stop Kevin Smith worked at, so the location costs were minimal
  • Set in present-day, so actors could wear their own clothes, or clothing could be purchased cheaply, secondhand
  • Very few characters, so the director could fill the roles with his personal friends who would work for free

And that film still cost thirty grand.

Consider a typical scene from Maradonia, where Maya and Joey arrived at a village and are greeted by a crowd of people, and what would go into creating that scene:

  • Where did this village come from? If it exists, you probably have to rent it. If it doesn’t exist, you must build it, which means you pay for the location, parts, transportation, labor, and insurance
  • For a village scene, you’d need at least 50+ extras. All of these extras need to be properly clothed, which means you need 50+ costumes. These extras probably have to be paid for their time. They have to be bused out to the location which means you must rent a bus. They have to have food so you must pay for a caterer. They need makeup so you need makeup artists, they need bathrooms so you must rent port-a-potties.

All of this is required…for a very simple, very short scene where they arrive at a village. And let’s not even get started about the level of special effects a Maradonia film would require, such as magical flying doves, talking snakes and grasshoppers and frogs and unicorns, and Maya and Joey riding a talking eagle covered in eyeballs, swimming with mermaids…the list goes on and on. And special effects, even if done cheaply that make your movie look like an absolute piece of shit, are still expensive and time-consuming to create. I’m not arguing that Hollywood doesn’t indulge in bloated  and unreasonable budgets, because they do, but there’s also a reason why each of the three Narnia movies cost between $150-$225 million dollars.

Of course, there are things the Tesches could do. They could absolutely gut the script. They could have every action sequence take place off-screen. They could use special effects created in MS Paint. They could reduce the entire story to a movie  that has Maya and Joey wandering through the underbrush and occasionally interacting with other humanoids in shitty plastic costumes. There exists a possibility that this film eventually does get finished. But, I think they will run out of money and the entire project will fall apart and be abandoned.

I desperately hope I am wrong. Nothing would bring me greater joy than the Tesches finishing and releasing this movie.

But even if that doesn’t happen, at least we have some footage we can look at and enjoy, because just the other day the Tesches released their movie trailer and launched an Indiegogo campaign to try and raise funds to continue work on their movie. In the original review, I noted that it was interesting that out of all the pictures released so far, they are were remarkably blasé. They featured dramatic shots of people walking, and staying, and lying, and occasionally looking mildly constipated. I wondered when they would get around to shooting an actual action sequence of some kind.

Turns out that the Tesches pulled a fast one on all of us: they weren’t shooting a movie at all! Sure, they said they were, and there’s a theoretical possibility that some of the footage they’ve shot thus far actually makes it into the finished project, but what they really have done is shoot a trailer to try and convince people to give them money so they can actually shoot a movie. Thus far, it’s proved wildly unsuccessful. Despite their amazing perks, most of the donations have been from Gloria Tesch herself, trying to show the campaign being successful.


The campaign itself is brilliant, complete with underlined text, italics, Unnecessarily Capitalized Words, typos, atrocious grammar and syntax, and it concludes by comparing Gloria Tesch to Stephen King, Anne Rice, Stephanie Meyer, and J.K. Rowling, and then following up by saying that Gloria Tesch has authored 10 books when she’s actually released 5 (and technically two and a half, since she split them up).

Interesting, although the campaign is only for $20,000, in the description it stated that they will “need definitely” $1 million to complete the movie in the next “eight month”. After this was pointed out, the Tesches removed the text, but not before it was screenshotted  by a helpful Internet denizen.


Which brings us to the trailer itself.

I would like to really tear into the trailer, but I can’t. It’s everything I ever hoped and dreamed it would be.

I was worried, for a bit, that the Tesches might outdo themselves. That they might have hired some very smart, intelligent people who would be able to craft quality cinema and actually be making a movie worth watching, rather than a movie so eye-gougingly bad that it makes Birdemic look like The Godfather Part II. I should have known better than to doubt the Tesches, as they reached deep within themselves to create a trailer that, astonishingly, is even worse than the material it’s based on.

It’s hard to decide which is my favorite part:

  • The absolutely atrocious acting from everyone
  • The horribly bad camera work
  • Shitty stock footage
  • The horrible voice-overs
  • The footage randomly switching between aspects.
  • This screenshot:


  • The mind-bogglingly bad special effects
  • This screenshot:


  • Mr. Perkins being in focus


  • Mr. Perkins sounding like a chipmunk
  • Gloria Tesch’s incredibly bad acting skills
  • Gloria Tesch’s random bikini shots. Isn’t she playing a 16-year-old?
  • The two random henchmen from a fantasy world who are armed with Japanese katanas
  • Maya and Joey ARGUING
  • 8:44 in when the video smash cuts to Gloria Tesch describing the Maradonia series in the most stiff, awkwardly uncomfortable fashion possible. Periodically, she glances off-screen toward her cue cards. Strangely, she refers to the series as containing six books, rather than the 10 books that the text states. She explains that the Maradonia story slowly turned into a 90-minute feature film. Which doesn’t exist, because they haven’t made it, which is why they are soliciting money from people.
  • Incredibly bad CGI fire
  • Apollyon’s paper-mache viking helmet and vampire fangs. Wait, what???


There are really no words that can do this trailer justice. Please, just watch it:


  48 Responses to “The State of the Maradonia Movie”

  1. Not to…distract from the subject at hand, but can you not refer to them as “slutty”! I realize it’s been pretty fun criticizing Gloria and Team Tesch’s actions so far but there’s no need to slut shame.

  2. Agreed, though it is amusing on some level how much skin she started showing when she hit eighteen.

  3. It isn’t particularly inspiring, considering the Tesches’ mysteriously shady business practices, that they’re going with a Flexible Funding campaign, one where the campaign gets to keep the money even if it falls short of the goal.

  4. I hadn’t even thought how it might feel for those poor sluts, to be put on the same level as her. Glad you brought that up.

  5. Yay! finally. another chapter of real-life Maradonia Saga brought you by Team Tesch!

  6. 25$+25$+50$+50$+10$+10$+25$ = 195$

    Therefore, all donations were made by Gloria.

    And the movie trailer is simply epic. And why Joey looks and sounds like he’s 20 or so? I thought he was 14 in the books.

  7. Yeah, I remember going through random posts of her facebook a few months back and seeing all the modeling photographs. It was odddddd.

    But no slut shaming please xD.

  8. Not intended as slut shaming, but fair enough. Edited.

  9. …WAIT

    IS IT ME

    OR IS THAT SKYRIM MUSIC?! (at around “he was praised and worshiped” and random singing people)

    Why really, Gloria Tesch @_@ As if this trailer wasn’t terrible enough.

  10. I’m glad I’m not the only one who heard that. (Though it wouldn’t surprise me if they just Googled “Medieval sounding music” and plucked it off of the first link they saw.)

  11. This trailer…it’s like they teleported their costumes from the sixties. Loved those sparkly sweeping stars on Apollyon’s shoulders. Actually with his costume like that, part of me was hoping he was going to “Ascend to the Heavens” on a motorcycle while trying to jump twelve buses and a helicopter.

  12. At least Joey’s still as idiotic as ever. Kind of disappointing he didn’t have his “dumb shit” line when they were climbing over the stuff by the cave. THAT would make me pledge money.
    And not only do those henchmen have katanas, but I could swear the second one in the cave has his scabbard around the wrong way when he draws.
    I know Tesch isn’t clever enough to do this, but her past comparisons to King, their watches stopping at 3:16… 3+16=19… the number 19 recurs a lot in King’s Dark Tower series in relation to Roland’s ka-tet… Now I’m over thinking.
    Honestly, watching that, I just feel bad for everyone involved. Especially Glo. Never before have I felt such a strange combination of pity and indigestion.

  13. re: 3:16 – that’s possible. Considering the heavy Biblical references throughout the Maradonia series, I would guess it has more to do with the famous John 3:16 verse, but I guess the 19ism is possible, if she has read King.

  14. The trailer was incredible. I was worried that this might be a total disaster, but if the rest of the film would have this sort of production quality, it’d definitely go straight off to my B-movie shelf. This is good bad. This is really good bad.
    The money problem is pretty obvious. There’s been a lot of debate about Kickstarter and its ilk lately, and it occurred to me that it’s still incredibly hard to make crowd-funding work for really expensive art projects like live-action films. It’s not a panacea for art financing. Even if Tesch’s project would succeed, what can we say? “Hey, crowd-funding is the future, and literally anyone can start a funding campaign for fantasy live-action films. Set up a project in Indiegogo or Kickstarter, wait a month, and hey presto, you have enough money to make the next… um… Dungeon Siege movie?” Making bad movies is really expensive. Making good movies extraordinarily so.

  15. They both had their swords sheathed backwards. Katanas are worn edge up specifically to prevent that kind of long, slow, fumbling draw he was doing.

  16. I know it’s been a few years since the event, but is the whole 9/11 being part of their prophecy offensive to Americans at all? I’m not from the US but it still seems a little distasteful, really. Being in the revised “books” was one thing, but actually putting it in the movie?

  17. I’m from the U.S.. It’s still distasteful. But this trailer is pure joy.

  18. True. I did that when I turned 12. ;-P

  19. The next Dungeon Siege movie? That’s entirely impossible. Only Uwe Boll can make a movie as bad as an Uwe Boll movie.

    I second the last comment, though. If only she and her family wouldn’t harm others on the way, their efforts would be so sweet, really.

  20. I wouldn’t mind this movie being created, it’d be like another “The Room” except that Wiseau is infinitely more humble than Tesch and paid for his vanity project from his own pocket.

  21. The guy playing Joey seems to understand how awful it is, and just rolls with it.

  22. It might be due to the gaping void of untalentness surrounding him, but i kinda think Joey is doing a decent job here. His lines sound sorta natural.

    As for all the rest: what is this i dont even…

  23. That movie trailer is priceless.

  24. I’d imagine 12 days into filming, the guy playing Joey will go insane and think he’s Joey. And then be on a constant lookout for appollyon for the entire filming.

  25. So as of today, the Tesches have raised less than 10% of their funding target, and we can no longer see the names of those who donated. By way of explanation, the Tesches have posted the following in their “Updates” tab:

    “Thank you to all our contributors!

    Unfortunately, we cannot display your names on our funders list, in order to protect your identity from other solicitations.

    Thank you once again for the support!”

    That’s it. No updates on the film itself, or what the first $1000 is being used for — just Gloria thanking her supporters. Twice.

  26. If the guy playing Joey seems like a good actor it’s probably because he’s doing all of the work in most of his scenes. Look! There are even some scenes where he manages two different emotions in the same scene! The actress playing Mara doesn’t even get that opportunity.

  27. Gloria may be a godawful actor, but the douche playing Joey is 10X worse

  28. A few of the contributors had their usernames shown earlier. Could have been sockpuppets, could have been not. The rest were in all likelihood Tesches and they just didn’t want their names to show up (because that might have been mighty suspicious), but glad that CF managed to snag a screenshot and put it above.

    However, Tesches’ claim that they “protect” the identities doesn’t hold water. It’s not their job to enforce anonymity on Indiegogo. The users are aware that, by default, their usernames appear as pledgers.

  29. I swear he said “The Umpire of the Underworld.” And it only got better from there. ^_^

  30. Well I have written several books in my lifetime. Most of them were shit and will never be seen by anyone besides me. But now I can claim to have authored many novels! Thanks Gloria for allowing me to live my dream!

    I’ve lost all pity for her once she was old enough to know better for a while.

  31. It’s almost as though now that she can’t be super smart she has to make herself ‘super hot’. I really hope that she grows a brain someday, otherwise her life is going to end up like the child actors we see on the news doing crack and flashing everyone just to have people notice them.

  32. I like how Apollyon is a really poor man’s Mola Ram.

  33. Not just that. At around :26, there’s a sound effect that was used several times throughout Resident Evil 4. That alone was enough to send me into a rather shameful giggle fit for the next minute or so.

    God, I hope this movie gets made.

  34. Is the section on Apollyon dependent on Isaiah 14, or what ? Joey looks much older than 14 – he has a Nicholas Cage-y air about him. Why is the sky pink ? Oh damn – what happened to “Over the tree, dumb shit!” ? Why does Maya have such hideous tints in her hair ? What 90-minute feature film ? The camera-work – yuck. “The Maradonia saga is a classic tale of good versus evil, and people of all ages will enjoy it” – the authoress is the last person on Earth who should say that.

    The actor playing Apollyon seemed to understand what dross he’d been given to work with – at least, he hammed it up nicely. Maybe Jeremy Irons should have come to chew the scenery.

  35. I actually kind of want this movie to get made just so I can ask Obscurus Lupa (she reviews low-budget and bad movies) to review it, ha ha.

  36. Regarding a one million dollar budget plan for a Maradonia movie… Honestly, I don’t think one million dollars would be enough for a live-action “epic fantasy” genre film. There’s a reason that low-budget, independent filmmakers never make live-action epic fantasy films taking place in big fantasy settings. It’s not practical and almost never possible. Maradonia has a lot of “big” and “epic” scenes. Unless they want to cut a ton of stuff out or downsize a LOT, there’s NO way they could do that movie on one million dollars. Plenty of scenes would be more expensive than the already-pricey village one you described. Anything taking place in a castle, you’d need a castle set. Any scene with a lot of soldiers, not only do you need a LOT of people for the soldiers, (and like the village scene, you need to accommodate and pay all these people) but you also need costumes (which would probably be more expensive than villager costumes) and horses.

    The mermaids at Lake Lagoon, those scenes will require a lot of camera tricks and/or special effects. Then you have the various mythical creatures and talking animals. Talking animals and unicorns could probably be done with real animals and a bit of CGI and voice acting, but shoot, getting animals and people to handle them won’t be free. The sea monsters and giant eagle would have to be done with animatronics or CGI, neither of which are cheap even if you are frugal.

    So, yeah. If the Tesch’s want the scenes in the movie to be portrayed as they are in the book, even if they do things as cheaply as possible, they’ll probably need a lot more money than they’ve planned for.

  37. Hell, I think if the entire movie was as good bad as the trailer, it could potentially gain a following among people who enjoy those sorts of movies. It could be the fantasy version of “The Room”!

  38. Oy, yeah. There are a lot of people who made bad, independent movies, and they acknowledge that the movie was bad but they still enjoyed it and still hold some pride in it. Like, sure, it’s bad, but they got through with making it and that’s SOMETHING. If the Tesch’s were nicer about this, it would be easier to admire the effort they put into it, even if the final product is a fantasy version of “The Room”.

  39. Are there any updates at all on this? I really, really want this movie made…

  40. “Watch out! We’re gonna be buried alive BY THIS SMALL DRIFT OF DUST!!!”

  41. Christ, just hear the sincerity and enthusiasm in Gloria’s voice!

  42. Tesch: *Awkwardly spouts her lines*
    Joey: Flashlight!

  43. This is the bastard child of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, dipped in a rancid Bible sauce, and clad in the aesthetic of Boondock Saints.

  44. I think the most interesting aspect of the video is Tesch’s eclectic accent. It’s obvious from the way she speaks that she has spent most of her life in the United States, a good chunk of it in California most likely, but there are moments when both her Russian and German heritages peek through. Oddly, considering her written syntax is so heavily influenced by German norms (even on her website, we see German phrases like “with 13” instead of “at 13”), it’s the Russian lilt of her vowels that are most pronounced in her spoken accent. Her German accent appears most prominently in her terminal plosives.

  45. Strange trailer, but the audio at 7:10 to 8:11 intrigues me, as it is the same as the Eli Roth / Marilyn Manson / Lana Del Rey Sturmgruppe video. This video came out in November 20, 2014, and was entitled “Sturmgruppe 2013 Reel.”

  46. Fridge Horror (where would we be w/o TV Tropes ?): if non-Chosen Ones have got lost on the beach *before* the Chosen Ones AKA our heroes, that implies the NCOs have fallen into the clutches of Abbadon. Nasty ! Abbadon seems to be having fun though.

  47. “Slut shame” implies that they actually are sluts and don’t deserve to be insulted for it. I don’t think it’s fair to label her a slut in the first place. She’s just modeling.