NEWS: One of our favorite recent fan films, A Survivor’s Triangle, has completed its weekly serialization on YouTube, and is now available as a continuous movie on DailyMotion; see it here. It definitely plays better as an uninterrupted presentation rather than in ten minute chunks. We will be bringing more coverage of this excellent production in the very near future.
FEATURE: PLYMOUTH WHO PRODUCTIONS
With both a video and an audio production currently in release, the UK-based Plymouth Who Productions is in the process of building a season of Doctor Who adventures based around their own continuity and canon. Like many recent fan productions, the PWP films mirror the format of the David Tennant/Russell T. Davies years to a certain extent, but also strive for their own identity. Steve Green — also the chief writer for the group — stars as an unspecified “future” Doctor who is traveling alone as we first meet him. When complete, the season will include three audio stories bookended by two video productions, the first of which is…
THE OTHER SIDE (2009) Written by Steve Green / Directed by Chris Nicholls
As a TV crew from The Other Side — an “investigate the supernatural” series in the style of the popular Most Haunted! — set up to film an episode in the supposedly haunted medieval fortress, strange things begin to happen, much to the annoyance of acerbic presenter Macey Furguson (Jemma Nicholls, here credited under her maiden name of Bassett). Washed-up psychic Alexai Rochenco (Lawrence Duncalf) is also receiving strange vibrations, and when the Doctor (Steve Green) turns up, he’s initially mistaken for another paranormal expert. But he soon deduces that something nasty and Lovecraftian is trying to make its way through this “haunted” house and into our universe.
A good first effort for any fan group, The Other Side suffers from many common fan film ailments — variable acting, occasional bad sound, and, most pronounced here, overlength. The basic plot is serviceable enough, but in trying to emulate the 45-minute run time of the “real” series, Green pads out the script with too many talky scenes, and the story doesn’t have much in the way of forward momentum. Fifteen or twenty minutes could easily have been trimmed.
That said, Green is definitely an asset as an actor, with an easy avuncular charm and, thankfully, no apparent desire to try and imitate David Tennant. It’s a bit harder to get a hook on Jemma Nicholls, an attractive brunette who isn’t initially given much to do besides act bitchy and impatient. We certainly don’t need another Rose Tyler clone, of the sort seen in all too many DW fan films these days, but the script doesn’t allow Nicholls much space to endear herself to the audience, though it’s technically a good performance. There’s potential for an excellent team here, although the ending does raise a question mark on that matter.
Among the rest of the cast, Lawrence Duncalf is pretty effective as the on-the-sauce medium, and our old pal Mark Humphries provides able comic relief as a harried technician.
The Other Side also benefits from some nicely creepy location work, some brief-but-excellent CGI shots by Graham Quince, and some nifty video effects and editing by the aforementioned Mr. Humphries. The Other Side can be viewed online here or, the film is available as a DVD complete with extras including bloopers, an amusingly elaborate Confidential making-of film, trailers, and more. It’s a nice package overall, and can be ordered by contacting Mark Humphries at: email@example.com
THE OTHER SIDE TRAILER
MINUS ONE – The first immediate sequel to The Other Side is the audio story Minus One, a well-produced adventure featuring classic monsters the Silurians that was definitely more impressive than their appearance in the new Matt Smith series. The trailer can be seen here while the entire story can be downloaded here. The other two audio stories have not yet been released, and so we don’t know the exact circumstances that lead to the Doctor and Macey’s paths crossing again, but this video preview for the third audio story, No More War at least shows us Macey’s entry into the TARDIS:
INCURSION (2011) Written by Steve Green / Directed by Steve Green and Mark Humphries
Although Incursion will not formally be released until the Spring of 2011, we here at Fan Film Follies have been granted an exclusive preview thanks to co-director Mark Humphries.
The Doctor and Macey, together at last, are travelling in the TARDIS and obviously have been for several adventures at least. Landing in contemporary Britain, they discover that an idyllic English hamlet has been the site of an extraterrestrial crash-landing, and now people are beginning to disappear. With the help of spunky U.N.I.T. operative Ellie Parker (Gina Brown), the Doctor discovers that the visitors are of a parasitic race called Hydra who adopt human hosts to do their bidding — and Macey has fallen prey.
In almost every way, Incursion is an improvement on The Other Side, with tighter direction, more varied locations, and much better production values and sound. The story is still too long for the content of the plot, and here the excessive talking scenes have been replaced by the fan cliché of the Doctor running around in the woods, taking readings off his sonic screwdriver. Cute as she is, Gina Brown isn’t particularly convincing as a super-spy, and the “local” acting is even weaker than TOS‘s varied cast.
Even so, Incursion is a very enjoyable romp with some colorful special effects (and a better look at the impressive full-size TARDIS prop), some neat sequences (a flashback to some of the Doctor and Macey’s adventures includes a tantalizing clip of an encounter with the Daleks) and an obvious increase in the confidence level of the filmmakers. Green is again in fine form, and Nicholls presents a somewhat softer Macey in the brief scenes before she is Hydra-ized.
Trailer #1 for INCURSION:
Trailer #2 for INCURSION:
While both these films demonstrate growing pains, I think Plymouth Who Productions has enormous potential and am definitely looking forward to future endeavors by this team. To follow their progress, check out their Facebook page.
JE Smith is a forty-something guy in the wilds of northeast Texas who likes Doctor Who and fan films. Happy Holidays to one and all.