The Art of The Fan Film

In an age where we’ve taken on an abundance of remakes and revamps and sequels and more sequels of our favorite childhood TV shows, movies and comics, fans seem to have taken things into their own hands, and turning these classics into modern heroes (or anti-heroes) we want them to be, not the censored (happy ending) heroes hollywood wants them to be.

So what does it take to make a successful fan film?

The fan film is a revolting backlash by fans of the studios destroying our favorite childhood heroes, but it takes much more than anger to get a fan film right. So what does it take?

Guts

First and foremost it takes guts! Yea that’s right, guts. Your working with (or against) an already largely existing fan base which probably know the subject much better than you do, so every little move or decision will be intensely scrutinized. Which takes me to the next point.

Captain Planet Fan Film
Captain Planet | Short Trailer

Know your Subject

The great thing about fan films is that you can skip the background stories. Everyone knows their story, so you need to make sure you know their crackly characters inside out as well. Any hint of a misinterpreted character will mean a loss of confidence in the viewer. However this does not mean you can’t explore character and story iterations, but knowing the original character will allow you to know how far and where you can take your persona, and if it would be socially accepted.

Human Revolution - Deus Ex | Featured Short Film
Human Revolution – Deus Ex | Featured Short Film

Don’t be scared to deviate

The whole point of fan films is to give the characters and stories a new layer that the studios wouldn’t dare to breach. Think out of the box and develop daring alterations to your personas while remaining true to their origins, especially if the stories need to be modernized. Many comic book stories and characters were created in the early 20s to 50s and don’t measure up the correct social reality we live in today (or tomorrow). Or perhaps the best example is that the audience that used to watch the show is all grown up now, and would like to see their heroes grown up as well. Adi Shankar is a brilliant mastermind behind Power/Rangers, who saw a weakness in the original show’s premise despite being a huge fan, and turned it into an extremely dark consequential reboot film.

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A video posted by Film Shortage (@filmshortage) on


Power/Rangers | Daily Short Pick
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Spawn: The Recall | Featured Short
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Budget

Of course budget is always preferred no matter what film your doing, but since fan films mostly consist of vivid science fiction stories and rather flamboyant costumes, recreating these characters does not come easy. But there are the rare cases, where some ideas can be pulled off with relatively low budgets, take a look at Logan for example:

Logan
Logan | Featured Short Film

Superman With a GoPro was also made with little budget.

Copyrights?

Ok this is an iffy subject. Obviously you can’t afford the copyrights, neither will you ever get them, unless you were hired by the owning studio to make the film. In general, or almost always the copywriters let fan films be, because on the most part they are home-made films, and won’t really interfere with their brand and quality. They also don’t want to come off as the assholes who take away some kid’s joy.

Of course, there are exceptions, coming back to Adi Shankar’s Power/Rangers Reboot starring James Van Der Beek & Katee Sackhoff, we all remember the big stir it caused back in February. It’s immidiate success flooded the internet within hours, and scared the copyright owners at Bandai who we’re quick to get the film off the web. But that got fans and the online community really upset, and the Japanese company was quick to realize that the pull had a negative effect on their name. Power/Rangers was back online a day later.

They put these disclaimers on so kids so don’t confuse our super-violent film with their Power Rangers brand. There are no hard feelings. We signed contracts. We can play it anywhere we want on all platforms. I think they realized that people just want to see it.

Director, Joseph Kahn

What are your thoughts on the Fan Film? Join the convo and tell us your dos and don’ts or send us your own fan film.