Fandom Underground – An Introduction – GAMING TREND

photo credit: Justin Mane’s Crow, 2022

You may not believe me, but modern revolutionary cinema does not come from the big studios. The sincerest, smartest and most thought-provoking work I’ve seen in years has been done on unofficial channels by people who otherwise might never have had the chance to work on a movie project. If you follow me on this journey, you won’t always get the finest or best-funded job, but you’ll always walk away having seen something unique and challenging that you’ll be proud to have given a chance. .

What is Fandom Underground?

It will be a regular series involving discussions with some of the most underrated filmmakers of the day. Its consistency will be based on my ability to meet them, so it will be difficult to predict how often the series will be updated. This series is going to be a resource for underappreciated work to see the light of day, and for you to get to know the people who put their hearts and souls (as well as a lot of time and money) into these projects. I intend to wage war on behalf of this unduly stigmatized subgenre, and prove to you the value of seeking out underground films and, perhaps, encourage you to do it yourself.

Fan films present a community of people who are passionate about their craft and ready to welcome newcomers into their midst. I won’t present any of my personal projects in this series, but I can say that I was welcomed with open arms into this group. In the space of a few months, I went from a fan to an editor and a supporter to a writer/editor/producer of an upcoming low-budget series.

What I won’t do (beyond this article) is compare these works to the professional productions to which they relate. Fandom Underground is a tribute to the underdog, not a rant on the state of modern media. Those who spend all their time tearing down Disney’s current efforts are putting all of their efforts in the wrong place. Most of the adverts I’ve seen for She-Hulk and the Rings of Power are from people complaining about it. Actively playing into someone’s hands to promote their product accomplishes nothing. If you really want to see better in the world, you have to look for it. I am here to try to help this process.

photo credit: Manuel Ramirez as writer and James Gordon in The Clown Prince, 2019

Set the clocks

My first goal is to dispel myths about fan films, frequently forcing their work to be ignored based on assumptions that are demonstrably false. Are these films worth less because they have small budgets? Some of them have large budgets, but besides that, their limitations are often a strength. The more money you accept from studios, the more artistic concessions you have to make; the more decisions you let costumes make, the more your work will be diluted by people who don’t care or even understand what you’re trying to accomplish. The purpose of a commercial enterprise is to make money first and produce work of artistic value second; what’s lost in broadening a franchise’s appeal is often what gave it substance in the first place.

Do these works have less value because they are not “official” products? In fact, fan films are often more faithful to the themes and settings on which they are based than corporate productions. The fans who make them out of love know the settings better than the costumes that pay for streaming show number 55. In fact, they’re sometimes created by the very creators who set those settings in the first place. Marc Zicree’s World Enough and Time starred George Takei as Sulu. It was shot on a replica of the USS Enterprise. Marc himself wrote Far Beyond the Stars, one of Deep Space Nine’s most iconic and memorable episodes. CBS, including JJ Abrams himself, knew about and approved of the project. He has been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards. Is it really less authentic than Star Trek Picard because one had a studio attached and the other didn’t, all the years after Gene Roddenberry died?

Are these works bad because they are unprofessional? Again, professionals often make fan films, forgoing the limitations of the studio system. On top of that, I’ve seen time and time again talented writers, actors, editors, and makeup artists do transcendental work that they don’t get paid for. A person’s daily work does not determine his value as an artist.

You might think that fan movies are just shoddy parodies with bad acting, bad costumes, and derivative writing. This is sometimes true, but more rarely than you might think. Making movies, even bad movies, takes work. It takes time and determination that most people don’t have, and those who persevere to create something do so because of the depth of love in their hearts for the craft. Yes, some of these films are cheap and clunky, but even these efforts have the spark of sincerity that the blockbuster genre production doesn’t even try anymore. Fan movies fill you with appreciation for the human effort that went into creating them, even the bad ones. Bad ones are usually easy to take down in their first few minutes, and long streaks that start off rough usually improve so much in quality and skill that they make the time all the more interesting. (Not to mention, everything I’m talking about is available for free.) If you don’t want to wade through the quagmire, you don’t have to. I’m here to show you the ones that stand out from the crowd and have real craftsmanship behind them.

Photo credit: Monica Aguilar as sister Juana Inés de la Cruz in episode 7 of Doctor Who: Velocity, 2022

Why should you give fan films a chance?

Beyond anything I’ve already mentioned, fan movies are forging their own path by doing the exact opposite of what corporate streaming has trained itself to be. Novelty is the watchword of the underground. Based on existing sets or not, these works constantly challenge themselves to tell new stories in new ways. They are enhanced by their limitations, compelled to come up with new and creative tools to circumvent what they lack in financial sophistication. I’ve seen better stories, better lighting, and better use of existing technologies in fan movies than at major studios over the past decade. These creators are ready to take their characters further, question their parameters more honestly, and show more carefully why you love your favorite franchise in the first place.

There is a beating heart at the center of these films. The one that fills me with joy at the act of creation and the wonder of what it took to give birth to these films. Around every corner there are wonders, if you just give yourself the chance to look for them. Doctor Who Velocity is a feast for the eyes, constantly challenging the limits of new technology and short storytelling. Crow features some of the best lighting I’ve seen in a horror movie in my entire life. The Clown Prince uses his budget to point out how the absurdity of a man dressed as a clown can be ignored by the minor application of pseudo-philosophy. I’ll be talking to the creators of these and other projects in the months to come, and I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

How do you find these filmmakers?

Right now, localizing these movies is a dire prospect. They have no marketing budget and no one talks about it (except for Jonathan Lane’s work at Fan Film Factor, a collection of material exclusively for Star Trek fans.) My first tip is to search YouTube Fan Film, filtering for over 20 minutes of videos posted in the past week. There are more than a few hiccups in there, but almost always you can tell the overall quality of something within the first ten minutes.

If you are a filmmaker fan, do not hesitate to contact me! Independent creators are often difficult to reach, without media contact on your social networks. I understand why, low budget and legal questionable thinking, many of these projects are. If you want your story to get more audience or know someone who deserves it, contact me and I’ll be happy to hear more about your work.

Finally, you can encourage studios to take these projects more seriously. Most try to ignore them or sue them, but this tactic only leaves money and creativity on the table. If, for example, Star Trek were to release a fan license and showcase the best work on CBS’ exclusive streaming service, everyone would make more money from it, no one would operate under the nebulous threat of a lawsuit. , and CBS would have access to a pool of established creatives for future projects.

Keep an eye out for more from this series. We’ll be talking about a masterclass in gothic horror with Crow, crime thriller Gotham with The Clown Prince, and cutting-edge visual effects/historical comedy playground with Doctor Who: Velocity throughout the first weeks. I hope some of you will be inspired to take a look at, or maybe even become, one of these excellent creators. They deserve more of your attention, and they will earn your respect.

John Farrell is a domestic violence legal aid attorney living in West Chester, Pennsylvania. You can listen to her travel the weird west as Carrie A. Nation in the Joker’s Wild podcast at: https://jokerswildpodcast.weebly.com/

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