Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Fanarchy

Year 9, Day 220 - 8/8/17 - Movie #2,709

BEFORE: Film critic and uber-geek Harry Jay Knowles carries over from "Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope" and so does Lucasfilm rep and uber-collector Steve Sansweet AND historian/expert Henry Jenkins too.  I figured once I hit these documentaries they'd all be drawing from the same pool of interview subjects...

I found this one on the ePix channel, they broadcast it a couple of weeks ago and it seemed to fit right in.  But I'm back to Netflix tomorrow.


THE PLOT: "Fanarcy" uncovers a subculture of die-hard fans who risk life, limb and financial bankruptcy in their quest to pay homage to the films and stories they love.

AFTER: I knew about "Troops", of course, which many regard as the fan film that started it all.  For some reason, as this documentary explains, Lucasfilm okayed nearly every fan film that it came across, as long as it took the form of a comic parody, and didn't try to advance the storyline of Luke, Leia, Han and company in a serious way.  Because that was kind of their own thing.  Anyway it was cheaper not to get lawyers involved every time someone made a film using the "Star Wars" characters, so they probably saved money every time they approved of something.  Lucasfilm even set up an annual Fan Film Competition with awards and everything, so they were really out ahead of the curve when it came to the fan film revolution.  (Other studios, not so much...)  The one exception was probably the "Star Wars" porn parody, because it depicted the characters we know doing some rather unsavory (and in some cases logistically difficult) sexual acts.  But Lucasfilm lost that court case due to the "fair use" laws that cover parodies, so there you go. 

I haven't seen many other fan films, largely because I'm so busy watching movies that were in general release and appear in the IMDB.  (If I can't find it in the IMDB, I can't add it to my watchlist...)  But I've seen some clips over the years, like that Batman one where he fights both the Joker and the xenomorph from "Alien".  It's not exactly shocking to learn that there are now web-sites devoted to keeping all of these fan films straight - I mean, we basically put a movie camera inside every smart phone, and every geek bought one, what did the studios THINK was going to happen? 

But as with the other docs during Geek Week, experts weigh in here to explain WHY we have fan films now, because the fans love their franchise films, and they all want to be a part of them in their own little way, or they've spotted a perceived mistake in the portrayal of a character, or a way to continue the story past the movie, so they set out to fix this injustice.  One woman didn't like the way that Storm was depicted in the early "X-Men" movies, so she took it upon herself to dress up as the character and play her as the bad-ass that she should have been.  Another bunch of people got together to "complete" the five-year mission of the Enterprise, since the original "Star Trek" show was cancelled after only three seasons.  (NITPICK POINT: A TV season wouldn't necessarily correlate to a year in space.  I'd suggest learning how the Star Dates work to figure out how much of that five-year mission was shown in the 3 seasons.) 

As you may imagine, I'm not sure where I fall on the issue of everybody being allowed to play with the characters seen in Hollywood's sandbox.  So I'm glad that this film brought up copyright issues and pointed out that what these rogue filmmakers are doing is technically illegal - because they are risking lawsuits or desist letters by putting someone in a Batman or Darth Vader suit and going out to make their own film, especially if they intend to sell that film and make a profit.  Hey, if you're doing it just for the love and not the money, then go ahead and knock yourself out.  Just please, don't call yourself a "Fanarchist", it's a ridiculous term, worse than "cosplay" even. 

There's another segment here about fan edits, which is a whole different ball of wax.  I've seen "Star Wars: Revisited" and also "The Phantom Edit", and I think from a legal standpoint these are much shadier.  Again, as long as no one is making a profit from this, then please proceed, but why the hell would anyone spend so much time tweaking the effects of a film that's not there's in the first place?  Just imagine what a person with such dedication could do if they put that energy toward making their own original film...

This film managed to avoid the big Comic-Con in San Diego, it looks like they filmed at a Fan Expo, most likely the one in Dallas.  (Eventually I figured out why the convention didn't look familiar to me...)

Also starring Denise Crosby (last seen in "Pet Sematary"), Richard Hatch, Leonard Maltin (last seen in "Gremlins 2: The New Batch"), Chris Bouchard, Brett Culp, Barbara Dunkelman, Kirby Ferguson, Donald F. Glut, Brea Grant, Maitland McDonagh, Vic Mignogna, Greg Nicotero, Nick Rubio, Chris Strompolos, Heidi Honeycutt, Clive Young, Maya Glick, Adrian Sayce, with archive footage of Harrison Ford (also carrying over from "Comic-Con Episode IV: A New Hope"), William Shatner (last seen in "For the Love of Spock"), Leonard Nimoy (ditto), Halle Berry (last seen in "The Flintstones").

RATING: 4 out of 10 lightsaber battles

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