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Spotlight: The Fanfilm

Posted: Mon, 26th May 2003, 4:26pm

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Simon K Jones

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Blockbuster season is upon us once again, with 2003 being a big year for huge movies. We have already been treated to X2 and The Matrix Reloaded, with Terminator 3, Hulk and others yet to come. The predictable result of this is an influx of fanfilms, and the inevitable accompanying discussion of their merits (or lack of).

The discussion often seems to settle on the thorny topic of 'originality', a dubious term at the best of times. Why create a fanfilm, some ask, when the same effort could be applied to creating something fresh and new? Perhaps originality is overrated, the quality of the end product being the crucial test. After all, The Matrix itself is far from original, drawing its ideas and inspiration from a myriad of sources - it is the sophisticated re-telling of those themes that makes it a success.

There have been Star Wars fanfilms, such as Duality, that have garnered respect for their technical or filmmaking prowess, if not their originality. Fanfilms serve as a kind of wish fulfilment, enabling people to envelop themselves in their favourite movies, whilst simultaneously stretching their technical skills.

Then, of course, there are the fanfilms that try something different. That take the usual fanfilm elements and manipulate them into something new and inventive. Troops mixed the Star Wars universe with the TV show Cops, resulting in an amusingly deadpan insight into the everyday world of a Stormtrooper, with events interwoven with A New Hope's early scenes.

Yet more successful was the famous George Lucas In Love, which ingeniously took the story structure of Shakespeare in Love and re-focused it upon the (fictional) inspirations behind Star Wars. The result was a magical short film that not only parodied two popular movies, but could also stand by itself as a legitimate piece of filmmaking. Remarkably, the film found its way to Steven Spielberg and, subsequently, to George Lucas. Joe Nussbaum, the director, is now well on his way to the big time, already helming a feature film. The director/producer team have a lot of useful advice to dispense, some of which you can hear by clicking here.

So are fanfilms useful? Do they have their place? Perhaps those who argue against their existence should focus their efforts on bad fanfilms, rather than fanfilms as a whole. A genuinely good fanfilm has the potential to be every bit as entertaining as its inspirational material.

Here at AlamDV.com we like to see a wide variety of movies submitted, whether they be fanfilms, entirely original enterprises, avante garde or documentary. Creativity can be found in the most unlikely of places, if you give it a chance.

Last edited Mon, 26th May 2003, 6:26pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Mon, 26th May 2003, 5:41pm

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toyPYROmachine

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I don't mind fanfilms one bit, as long as they aren't HORRIBLE. I can't stand them when they copy every thing the original film tried. I like the ones that try new ideas, but stay along the guidelines of the original.

But the truth is, there are always going to be fanfilms. Recreations of masterpieces will be with us until the government decides to blow the world up with a bunch of nukes. Someone said in a recent post that 60 percent of all films made are not original. They have routes from previous works. My social studies teacher says that every book, movie, and idea is based on 7 original concepts. He says that anything you can think of is based on one of those concepts. I can't remember what they all were, but I know that one of them was two people falling in love.

And I am starting to believe him. The more I think about it, the more I realize what he said is true. And now I am trying to invent a new concept. I want to think "outside the bun".

So to stay on topic, fanfilms aren't that bad, as long as they don't cross the line. People just want a taste of what it's like to create something wonderful. They recreate the Matrix and Star Wars so they will know what it is like.

Besides...They say imitation is the best form of flattery.
Posted: Mon, 26th May 2003, 5:54pm

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b4uask30male

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If I may just add to Tarn's topic.

When I see a title of a film on Alamdv that is based on a Feature film or Series I go to watch it with excitment.
Eg: The Matrox, as soon as I saw the title I thought GREAT.

The only film on here that I was looking forward to seeing that was nothing to do with a Film was THE TEST 2.

What i'm trying to say is you already have willing viewers if you make a fan film.
Posted: Mon, 26th May 2003, 7:03pm

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Aculag

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When I say I hate fan films, I say that I hate the same stupid shite over and over again. Tarn, the films you mentioned stand out a LOT because they're semi professionally made and the creators spent a lot of time on them. Most of the saber fights and "matrix" movies I see on this website are obviously not professional, and they look like the creators spent about five minutes making it. If you're going to make a fanfilm, I say spend some time on it! Get some actual actors, not just that one geeky guy who's Mark Hammil's biggest fan. Spend an extra 30 seconds to put your camera on a tripod. Spend a few hours (HOURS!!!) sitting thinking up and writing down ideas, maybe even a script! These are the things that set the films you mentioned apart from the others. No, they're not enirely original, but there aren't any fanfilms that are. All I'm saying, is that if more time and creativity went into the lightsaber fights we all see on here, things would be a lot better, and I'd stop B*tching.
Posted: Mon, 26th May 2003, 7:33pm

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fallen

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I mirror this with the state of todays music industry - on the one hand you have these small time musicians making music in their bedroom/garage, purely because of their love of music and their pure creativity, something which attracts a "cult" audience, compared to on the other hand young fresh faces from a talent school singing songs devised and regurgitated by fat old men with big wallets which is still popular enough to make the young perky nipples rich despite the number of people who say chart music is crap. Which is better, you decide...
Posted: Mon, 26th May 2003, 7:37pm

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Aculag

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Fallen, I praise you. Almost all of todays popular music is exactly the same as "that band that was popular a few months ago"
Posted: Mon, 26th May 2003, 7:53pm

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Sollthar

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In my opinion, Films are the kings league of art. You have every artform you can think of in it... storytelling, photography, music, light, painting, models and I could carry on for ages.

Therefore Film is one of the most complex things in the world and awfully difficult to understand. Everyone can watch a film though, but that does not mean everyone can understand what a film is all about, as not everyone who can read a book does understand it. And beeing able to hold a camera does not qualify a single bit more.

I dare to say, every filmmaker started as a fan. A fan of movies in general or certain movies or even only one movie. Than he took his camera and tried doing something similar. I seriously doubt that someone who has never seen a film wants to make a movie. I started that way and I bet you did too.
Of course, taking dads camera and film two of your friends wearing casual clothes in your backyard fighting with sticks and call it "Star Wars: Apprentice Battle" is no film, we all know that. But still, did your first film look different? Mine sure didn't.
Filmmaking is a development. An artistic development. You start doing stuff like that and then you evolve. You start realising that there is more to handling the camera than just to hold it more or less into the direction of where something happens, you start to realise that there is light, acting, music, editing and hopefully you realise that there is something called "script" and you will develop the will to tell a story of your own.

And then you start doing films.


Allthough I admit I don't like watching fanfilms and prefer seeing "new" stories rather than 100 copies of something that is in the cinema now or was a couple of months ago, one mustn't make the mistake to bash them. They usually are a filmmakers beginning of a long and difficult journey, or an hommage made by a more experienced filmmaker. Either way, they have their right to exist. Noone forces you to see them if you don't want to.
Posted: Tue, 27th May 2003, 5:53pm

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Andreas

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Me to started with doing fan films.
And i can't say I was that into films then, I started to make films couse I wanted to tell people what I think, before I made films, I made comics, and was by the age of 7 yrs old then. So the first movie I made was an stopmotion donald duck movie, and was like 7-8 yrs old. since that I have made mostly fanfilms, or films based on videogames and stuff like that. But all the movies I really wanted to make is not fanfilms, couse I still have millions of ideas and stuff that I want to tell, but my "crew" just want to make fanfilms.

But I have to admit, I love watching fanfilms, but you can't really make a carrer out of it.
Posted: Tue, 27th May 2003, 7:38pm

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jedicowboys

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I think fanfilms help out movie companys alot. They give movie companys free advertisment for their Films they put out. And I think thats why G.Lucas has never tired to stop them . The more people get in to his movies the more they can make. And if some one is making a fan film ,their buying his stuff to put in their films,and the people who watch the fan films might see something in there they want and go out and buy it.

In the end" Fan Films help make money for Movie companys I think "

and to all out there thats says they hurt the movies image or what ever get a life ,and find something worth while to rag on like " U.f.o cover ups..LOL
Posted: Tue, 27th May 2003, 9:57pm

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Obi

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Oh.. my.. god! I've never actually seen Troops before, and I just got blown away. It, simply put, kicks ass!
Posted: Wed, 28th May 2003, 4:20am

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voiceoverwizard

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ALAMDV is all about effects right .....................when is the last time a major motion picture showed us some "ORIGINAL" effects. Not something that is bettter looking or better made or just plain better than before but original never been done, never been tried, never before conceived and brought to fruition(that means finished)? when, When, WHEN
I am sure I couldn't answer that question myself it has been so long. In fact I am going to think for a while, but I may start a whole new post asking that question with a twist.
Posted: Wed, 28th May 2003, 4:29am

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Aculag

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The Matrix. Original. Before that, Jurassic Park.
Posted: Wed, 28th May 2003, 6:54am

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Joshua Davies

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Terminator 2 - that had some amazing effect, people just hadn't tried to do that stuff before.
Posted: Wed, 28th May 2003, 9:16am

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Simon K Jones

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The Abyss and then Terminator 2 were the last big revolutions in effects. T2 not just for the T-1000, but also for the fact that it was the first movie to be digitally composited.

Since then it's been evolution.....no huge steps like when we first saw the pseudopod or the T-1000 rise out of the chequered floor.

There have been highmarks in that evolution, of course - Jurassic Park (first proper CG creatures), The Matrix (first time bullet-time/flo-mo had been used effectively outside of adverts), The Two Towers (first time a CG character had been convincingly achieved).
Posted: Wed, 28th May 2003, 11:39am

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voiceoverwizard

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Aculag wrote:

The Matrix. Original. Before that, Jurassic Park.
5 years or so
Terminator 2 - that had some amazing effect, people just hadn't tried to do that stuff before
10 years or 11
The Abyss and then Terminator 2 were the last big revolutions in effects. T2 not just for the T-1000, but also for the fact that it was the first movie to be digitally composited.

Since then it's been evolution.....no huge steps like when we first saw the pseudopod or the T-1000 rise out of the chequered floor.

There have been highmarks in that evolution, of course - Jurassic Park (first proper CG creatures), The Matrix (first time bullet-time/flo-mo had been used effectively outside of adverts), The Two Towers (first time a CG character had been convincingly achieved).


5-10 years except Two Towers but it was only the first time it was good not the first time it was done.
So as of now the last time stands at the first Matrix movie and bullettime which I beleive was made in 1998 and released in 1999 about 5 years.
Posted: Wed, 28th May 2003, 11:47am

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Simon K Jones

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Yeah, but just as Gollum was 'only' the first time it had been done successfully, the same goes for The Matrix. Bullet-time had been used many times in commercials and probably music videos as well, long before The Matrix. The movie just perfected the technique.

T2 was probably the last *great* step forward. Then perhaps Jurassic Park, as nothing had been attempted on that scale before.
Posted: Wed, 28th May 2003, 12:53pm

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Sollthar

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The Matrix did NOT invent the bullettime effect. It only made it popular. But the effect itself was used years before in Animes and Commercials. The Matrix can't take credit for that.


One big evolution was TRON by Walt Disney. It was the first film ever that used computer generated images on film.
Posted: Wed, 28th May 2003, 1:08pm

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Simon K Jones

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If I were to pick films of the last half-decade that were important with regard to effects, I'd probably go for the following:

2001: A Space Odyssey
Star Wars: A New Hope
TRON
The Last Starfighter
The Abyss
Terminator 2
Jurassic Park (and JP2)
The Matrix (although the non-bullet-time effects are pretty average)
The Two Towers


Might slip The Phantom Menace in there as well, simply because nobody had attempted to do things on that level before. And despite its reputation, most of its effects are very successful - particularly the podrace.
Posted: Wed, 28th May 2003, 1:23pm

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Sollthar

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Metropolis by Fritz Lang also was a groundbreaking SFX movie! One of the first Specialffects film in history.
Posted: Wed, 28th May 2003, 2:02pm

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er-no

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Sollthar wrote:

Metropolis by Fritz Lang also was a groundbreaking SFX movie! One of the first Specialffects film in history.
Is that the animated film? I think I saw that about a year back?!
Posted: Wed, 28th May 2003, 2:07pm

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Simon K Jones

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NO! YOU HEATHEN!

Metropolis was made in 1927 by legendary German director Fritz Lang, becoming the most expensive film yet made at the time.

Gah, I dunno. Youth today...
Posted: Wed, 28th May 2003, 2:15pm

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er-no

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Tarn wrote:

NO! YOU HEATHEN!

Metropolis was made in 1927 by legendary German director Fritz Lang, becoming the most expensive film yet made at the time.

Gah, I dunno. Youth today...
Pff. The only film I know about from around that date is The Jazz Singer. I am not wrong though, there is a animated and excellent film called Metropolis?

crazy
Posted: Wed, 28th May 2003, 2:18pm

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Simon K Jones

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Yep, anime film that came out in the last couple of years. The mix of animation styles looked a little odd to my liking - although I haven't seen the full thing yet.

Still, I suspect Finding Nemo and Wonderful Days are going to make everything else look pretty rubbish for a fair while...
Posted: Thu, 29th May 2003, 1:27am

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Sollthar

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Hehe, don't be mad at him Tarn. It's not his fault... smile


You should see metropolis er-no. it's fabolous. And it will keep you thinking "1927? How the....?" smile
Posted: Thu, 29th May 2003, 2:06am

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Simon K Jones

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Yeah, there are still some shots in Metropolis where I'm not quite sure how they did them.

Innovation = Metropolis
Posted: Thu, 29th May 2003, 2:13am

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Sollthar

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totally agree... I have a book about the FX of metropolis- They used awfully complicated techniques with huge mirrors and small models for most shots... using the mirror to integrate the model into the real shot.

Fantastic stuff though. Truly inspiring creativity went into that film.
Posted: Thu, 29th May 2003, 1:22pm

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Mellifluous

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Yeah, Metropolis is truly amazing, as Tarn says very innovative. It contains all these complicated effects & cinema was still finding itself.

Metropolis the anime was OK. Some of the characters were drawn too cutesy though, & a bit too Disneyfied. But that's how the original artist, Osamu Tezuka, drew the characters in the 1950s. But the city animation was amazing.

For pioneering FX films, Nosferatu directed by F.W. Murnau has to be up there. There's models, fast-motion & stop motion photography, which is all pretty good for a film made in 1922. And it's German, which means Sollthar will support me in my apreciation of it, lol.

I agree, Star Wars is pioneering, for all its effects & its motion control innovation (John Dykstra).

I always thought AI was pretty innovative, even though I didn't like the film much.

Mel wink