Live-action fan films

Fan vids get all the critical love these days, but I’ve been an on-again–off-again fan of live-action fan vids since my days of IRL Doctor Who fandom. A few live-action fan projects look really interesting.

Debuting at Dragon*Con in September 2010 will be Browncoats: Redemption, set in Joss Whedon’s Serenity/Firefly universe. Whedon’s original characters do not appear, played either by the original actors or by fans recreating the role. Instead, it’s a whole new story about a whole new ship. The creators will sell DVDs of this fan vid, which will probably retail for about $15, and all proceeds go to charity. The creators even told the Suits about their mission; shockingly, they weren’t told to immediately cease and desist:

So here’s how it is, we’ve reached out to FOX, Universal Studios, Joss’ agent at CAA, and even Mary Parent who is now at MGM. Everyone we’ve dealt with has been extremely helpful and completely blown away the stereotype of what the Hollywood experience is like. And much to our surprise, we even have the blessing of Joss Whedon himself. We’ve reached out to both Fox and Universal to get a greater understanding of the legal permissions we needed to make this a reality and we set out to complete it. And thanks to mighty fine Browncoats like yourself…we have. [source]

Interested in trailers? Visit browncoatsmovie on YouTube and view a trailer or three. You can also follow them on Twitter: @browncoatsmovie.

A fan film interesting for its mostly female cast and crew is Born of Hope, produced by Actors at Work Productions in the UK. The entire 1-hour, 12-minute fan-made video is available for free on YouTube, and ancillary content, such as podcasts and commentary, is available via YouTube account Bornofhope. It’s set in Tolkien’s universe and is billed as a Lord of the Rings prequel. It was released on December 1, 2009.

This production follows from The Hunt for Gollum and can be read as a companion story: both are labors of love set in the Tolkien ‘verse, shot in the UK by dedicated fan groups that cross the border between pro and amateur. Gollum, which is in the fan genre known as the missing scene, was released on May 3, 2009, and is the subject of a Transformative Works and Cultures essay by Robin Anne Reid entitled “The Hunt for Gollum: Tracking issues of fandom cultures.” Gollum is interesting because it channels Peter Jackson’s cinematography and because the male lead strongly evokes Viggo Mortensen’s performance of Aragorn, more copying homage than creative artwork.

Luckily, FanFilms.net keeps track of these things for us. The films I highlight here are of particular interest to me because they aren’t shot-by-shot remakes or parodies, and because they have relatively high production values.

Please feel free to comment with more info, new titles, or things I should know about live-action fan films!

This text is copyrighted under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. This post was originally written on August 10, 2010. It may be freely copied anywhere. If you read this document at a site other than its original, I may not see any comments you might append, and I’d love to hear from you. Please comment at the original blog post if you wish me to see your remarks.

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