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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.