Fan Fiction and Fan Films
Recently, I was listening to the DC Comics podcasts from the 2008 New York Comicon, and was struck by a statement which editor Dan DiDio made - to paraphrase, he had stated that the first story you do as a fan is the last one you do as a writer. Stories that fans may write out of a love for the character may not always make the most sense when writing a daily book.
(Just a word of warning - some of these clips may not be safe for work, mostly due to language. Just wanted to warn you readers, out there, since I don't want you getting in trouble at work)
However, that's one of the reasons why I love fan fiction and fan films. It's a good way to explore your favorite characters...and develop your writing schools. (Full disclosure: I'm not just a fan of fan fiction - I'm also a past participant ). Fan films offer fans a creative outlet that can sometimes range from the amateurish to full-on masterpieces, and since they're not-for-profit enterprises, can provide many hours of entertainment. (Just look at this list - plenty to choose from, but not comprehensive in the least). This month, with raves a-plenty for Iron Man - and eager anticipation for Batman: The Dark Knight, consider this a public service to help you tide you over...or at least, to keep you going between blockbusters.
Case in point: Sandy Collora. He's a director who has made two top-notch fan films, both featuring Batman. Batman: Dead End is a short feature which mixes Batman, Aliens, and Predator in a mix that, well, luckily is a really entertaining five minute mix. (The actor who plays Batman has it down cold, and look for Josh Koenig, son of Chekhov, as the Joker). Collora's World's Finest trailer also contains some wish-we-could-see-them moments...and in a way, that's the great advantage to fan films: for some filmmakers, there's a serious attempt to bring favorite characters to life....
...and for some, it allows them to take a more humorous look. This mixture of dead-on portrayal and slight humor can be found at Blinky Productions, who produced two popular videos featuring Power Girl. One is a nice little slice-of-life involving her attempts to find a job; the other features PG fighting Bizarro who gives her...an unflattering nickname, to say the least. Fellow pod caster Coffee Junkee helped create a loving, sensitive portrayal of our favorite Spider-Man villian, Venom. (And of course, don't forget The Adventures of Little Batman - I mean, how can you not love The Adventures of Little Batman? Or this Star Trek/Flintsones mashup ?)
Most fan films tend to be one-shots, like this imaginary trailer for an Iron Man TV series, this Iron Fist film, or this Green Hornet trailer. But there are two web-based fan series - one with has garnered attention, the other with minimal - that are regularly recurring "series" with "webisodes". (Why is it that every time I use quotation marks, I feel like I'm arching my eyebrows as I type this?)
One web series that I can wholeheartedly recommend is Hero Envy through Glint of Hope Productions. It's about the wacky misadventures of JD and Wally, two fanboys who get into all sorts of wacky shenanigans. Imagine a parallel world where Kevin Smith's Clerks is mixed with the Three Stooges, and a relatively fan-insightful sense of humor. (There are plenty of four letter words in the series, so please be forewarned). After catching up with some DVDs (thanks, Chuck!), I can say it's definitely one of my guilty pleasures...but one I'm willing to share. It has all sorts of goofy scenarios: a guy throwing Hero Clix into a blender, another using his cell phone as a tricorder, and a grown man wrestling the imaginary Mexican wrestler who lives inside his head...it's not Citizen Kane, but quite frankly, I like it.
And then, there's the long awaited (and long delayed) Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, which involves both the company behind New Voyages, as well as Trek actors past and present. Promising to speak to modern times in the best Trek tradition, unfortunately...the experience is not that great. To be fair, part of it is the player that they use - the playback, even with the best system, is jerky and uneven.
But most of my issue with OGAM (with two out of three episodes online) is similar to my issues about the New Voyages in general...it's commendable that, rather than simply rehash what has happened before, the production team is trying to use Trek concepts to tell a thoroughly modern story...unfortunately (and there's no away around saying this without spoiling the plot), the very elements Trek uses are the obvious ones, involving time travel, alternate time lines, and a parallel form of Federation. In short, the whole premise - that one man can influence the outcome of entire history - doesn't quite work in this story. From a fan perspective, it is a good story - a story that hits all the appropriate marks. However, as Dan DiDio might suggest, this is the last Trek story that a writer would write. It's one thing to boldly go and explore a mythology; it's another to simply just take toys and build another castle.
The best fan fiction does a little bit of both; Of Gods and Men does too much of the latter and not enough of the former.
Whew - what a long column this month? Please feel free to head to the forums to discuss this in more detail...or if this isn't enough for you, check out my blog every Saturday morning, where I'll be reviewing the latest episode of Doctor Who.
Until next time....keep watching!
Read More! For more of Gordon's writings, insights, and
general information, please visit his blog at blogthispal.blogspot.com.
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