A while back, I googled “fan fiction,” wrote about it, and met with a smidgeon of backlash for my lack of research (Lack of research/effort being my trademark. I can’t believe that gimmick wasn’t taken faster than Liam Neeson’s daughter in Europe.)
Now, I say to you, once more unto the breach! This time I googled “fan films.”I was anxious to see if the passive nature of watching a YouTube video might better suit my lackadaisical approach to blogging. And it did, sort of.
Obviously, this is inspired by Thomas Jane’s well-produced and cheese-tastic Punisher fan film, “Dirty Laundry.” If you haven’t seen it, wait until you get home from work and YouTube it. It’s bloody, ridiculous, and mildly insane. Now, as a fan of awful movies I still prefer “Punisher: War Zone,” but “Dirty Laundry” benefits from having a patron saint of amazingly awful movies, Ron Perlman (The high priest being Nic Cage. The associate high priest being Cage’s hairline.), involved. I’ll just split the difference and say that this was enough to make me put all the effort into googling and watching. Worth it.
Then I did actual research.
I didn’t realize that fan films have such a long history. With YouTube and phone cameras and every laptop having video editing software, I confess that I thought it was a recent development. The interwebs totally schooled me. They have been around as long as people were geeking about something and could record themselves.
I watched “Hardware Wars,” the “Star Wars” parody featuring Ham Salad and Darph Nader, a guy in a black welding mask. (Thanks to Topless Robot for the link!) My mind was blown. Toast TIE-fighters were ejected from their toaster ship thingy and attacked an Imperial Star Destroyer that was an iron! The only movie I’ve seen with more visible fishing line was “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” also one of my favorites (And not ironically. I get a genuine, pure joy from that terrible movie. Much like the feeling I get when eating boneless buffalo wings, discovering my Spice Girls: Greatest Hits album under my car seat, or drinking a pink cow.).
Did you know that there are a lot of “Star Wars” fan films? Like more than several. So, feeling overwhelmed, I moved on.
Inspired by the “Batgirl: Spoiled” fan series trailer that recently raced across my geeky consciousness, I googled “Batman fan film best.” I added “best” because I don’t want to slog through too many results. Thank you, Internet, for compiling many such lists for me. I am not too proud to piggyback on the work of other authors (While giving them full credit for their great work and linking to it. Because, while lazy, I am not without a soul or ethics. That’s karma, people, or at least my passing Western understanding of karma.)
Back to Batgirl. An itty bitty, cheesy? Sure. But, this is the closest we’re going to get to seeing Stephanie Brown kicking ass alongside The Question (aka: Renee Montoya) on screen any time soon. And, when you don’t have Hans Zimmer orchestrating behind you and ILM animating the destruction of your city, well, anything can have a tinge of the nacho to it.
There were battles with Batman, the Joker and Predator (Thanks, Rotten Tomatoes!); there were proto-reality shows about stormtroopers on patrol in Tatooine (Fun fact about me/bragging: I’ve been to Tatooine. It’s a real city in Tunisia.); there were video game films and Lord of the Rings films (Thanks, ComicBookMovie!).
I’m loving these. These are all made by people who have the best qualities of geeks – endless stores of enthusiasm and empty barrels of vanity. They have shockingly good production values considering many were made on a pittance (I’ve read rumors about some that do cost tens of thousands of dollars.) in the cast and crew’s free time.
The other great thing about these; even as they do one of the most stereotypically geeky things in the world, they debunk geek stereotypes. There are people of every shape, size, and ability in these movies. The stereotype that we dweebs are socially awkward? Many videos I watched were well written, funny, and touched on the human, relatable side of these vast universes. I’d say that shows a much better grasp of social mores than any copy of Maxim or Cosmo.
There aren’t many female-driven videos out there, but if you want to see it, make it. Personally, I’d like to see it, but I’m actually more awkward in front of a camera than I am in writing. You’ll never see me in a fan film. You will see me in the comments section cheering on these creative, geeky filmmakers.
Fan films let us see the movies that will likely never be made by studios. They’re wish fulfillment at its most DIY.
So, what did I learn? I watched many fan films to come to these conclusions. I watched more fan films than pieces of fan fiction read for my prior piece. I tried to get a broader view, but the triptych is so vast that an entire image is impossible to see at once.
What I’m saying is that this made me realize that, perhaps, I may have been a bit hasty forming my opinion of written fan fiction. Maybe I should google for two days instead of one next time.
What about you guys? Do you have a favorite fan film? Where do you find them? What would you love to see?