It’s hard for me to believe it’s been ten years since I’ve been covering the wonderful world of fan films. It started out as kind of a lark and has turned into a hobby I can’t seem to break away from. When I originally discovered fan films I didn’t even know what a fan film was. Back then there was no YouTube. Streaming websites were something new with the likes of Atom.com now owned by MTV Networks and Ifilm.com that everyone knows today as Spike.com. I was accessing websites through Web Crawler and the Yahoo search engine before the new kid on the block, Google, came on the scene. I had no idea what HTML was or what the hell to do with a cascading style sheet. There was AOL dial-up before there was Road Runner (or DSL) broadband. We had one computer in the house compared to our two systems and two laptop setup we have of present time. Come to think of it we had a big old, clunky tube television in the living room as well. Today, it’s almost affordable to have a modest movie experience in every room in the house. As Bob Dylan clued us in – The Times They Are A-Changin’.
Back In 2009, when I began this site, I wrote a similar article just like this one explaining the origins of the Fan Film Follies. I found it fitting to recollect the evolution of the Follies for its ten year anniversary. A lot of what is written may be a rehash of that original article so please forgive as nostalgia gets the better of me. I promise I’ll have something new to add.
HBO SHORT TAKES
Star Wars finally premiered on cable in 1983. This is back when HBO would run short films between their feature films. One of those shorts they played around when Star Wars hit the premium channel was called “Hardware Wars”. I’m overly confident you all know the film in which I mean. Little did I know at the time, but this would be my very first fan film experience.
My recollection is somewhat sketchy to the exact details on how I started the Fan Film Follies. When I first jumped on the internet I had a computer with a monochrome monitor. There wasn’t much to do online beyond joining a chat. I could access websites, but without the ability to view pictures. The whole experience was pretty lackluster.
When the wife and I bought our first Hewlett Packard desktop computer it was like entering a whole new world. Sure it took about five minutes to bring up an image rich website through AOL dialup, but back about twenty years ago we weren’t spoiled by broadband so the wait wasn’t as annoying as it would be today. I could watch video with this new computer by either downloading a 20mb file that took about an hour and a half or stream it online in a box that was about 6 inches by 6 inches. That was a bit distracting as the video would continuously buffer. It’s crazy how much our ability to access the same kinds of content has changed in such a short amount of time. How I love technologically.
I enjoy my comic books, video games, science fiction and animation. Everything that society deems “nerdy”. So when I had friends over we would talk current events as well as talk about current comic book storylines, current movies, current Star Trek episodes, current video games and the list continues. We’d also jump on the computer and watch video. There was one film short that I’ve never forgotten to this day. One night, after a few beers, my buddy and I watched “Godzilla Vs Disco Lando” by Evin Maher. We laughed our stupid asses off. With the exception of Hardware Wars several years before Godzilla Vs Disco Lando was my first foray into the micro genre that is fan film.
There were other fan films we would watch. Many I can’t recall. Some you’ve certainly heard of like Troops, Hidden Frontier and Dark Redemption.
Around this time I was in my early thirties. I was outgrowing the whole going out and pissing away a big chunk of my paycheck at some bar. It was also a time where I wanted to do something more substantial with my time. I’ve always loved writing. I’d been writing off and on since I was a teenager. The internet was a perfect outlet to share my words and ideas with others. I found a site online called Cool Collecting run by one Timothy Priebe. Cool Collecting covered everything fanboy related. Tim was open to new writers for the site so I was happy to join his crew.
But what would I write about? I decided to spotlight these entirely cool fan made productions I’d been watching for some time now into regular featured articles. And from there Fan Film Follies was born. I don’t really remember why I called the column Fan Film Follies. I guess it wasn’t rocket science. All three words started with the letter “F” and had a pretty good flow. On March 24th, 2002, the first edition of the Fan Film Follies appeared online.
The column was extremely challenging to write. It was no easy task tracking down relevant content. Today there are fan films all over the internet. Back then they were very few and very far between.
When writing for Cool Collecting I learned what a webisode is, that there was a whole community of filmmakers that utilized Legos for their props and discovered the wonderful world of Flash and Shockwave. I was also able to correspond with all these amazing, talented people who created these virtual gems. It was all a great experience.
I wrote for Cool Collecting until they closed their doors in September 2004. Tim wanted to focus on his career. Cool Collecting was always a catalyst for him to practice his web design and coding skills so it just came time for him to move on.
When Cool Collecting shut their doors I decided to leave fan films behind focusing on my own creative ambitions. I’d already been working with a group of people on a variety of independent comic book ideas. I don’t normally plug my comic or film work in these pages unless it’s directly related to fan films. This article will be the exception. If you’re interested in checking out some of what I’ve done I have a few stories online at Drunk Duck and you can also link over to my official site at Making Comics Studios.
After my Cool Collecting days every once in a great while I’d check out new fan films that would hit the internet. Late 2005 I stumbled on a site called Fanboy Theatre run by one Fanboy William McKenzie. As I read through his website that old fan film itch began to scratch. There was someone else on the internet covering the same content I was covering. A Kindred spirit if you will. It got me excited about fan films again. I contacted Will to see if he was interested in my Fan Film Follies column for his website.
On October 31st, 2005, Fan Film Follies began again at Fanboy Theatre. That lasted about two months. In the early part of 2006 Will had gone missing off the cyber plain. I mean for a good four or five months. It was later that spring when I finally received an email from Will apologizing for his sudden disappearance. He had some personal things he needed to deal with. I wanted a more stable home for my articles so we parted company amicably. Will and I would hook up on another fan film project a few years down the way.
COMIC BOOK BIN
By the time Fanboy Will resurfaced I’d already combed the internet for another site to host my column. A quick Google search linked me to the Comic Book Bin that was actively looking for new writers. I was invited into the fold of the Bin by founder Hervé St-Louis. My column started at the Bin July 1st, 2006 lasting until I left in the summer of 2009.
My time with the Bin was an interesting one. It was the first site that allowed me to post my own articles so that was a huge breath of fresh air. I’d taught myself coding thanks to the book HTML for Dummies. That was fun to use what I learned in a practical manner.
There wasn’t just one reason why I left the Bin. The major factor was that Fan Film Follies grew as much as it could grow there. I was getting bored. And I didn’t feel the site was embracing new formatting and technologies that was becoming available. I hate staying stagnant.
The Bin also started posting some strange and – at times – leftist articles which I really didn’t feel were significant or necessary for a site that’s supposed to be about comic books.
Here’s a quick examples:
One article in particular that was posted caused my final decision to pack up my toys and go home. I hadn’t read this article in two years and as I read it today it still drips of ignorance. That’s my opinion. Click on the link and form your own.
Even know I didn’t agree with some other things that went on behind the scenes I always wished the Bin well and I see they’re still going strong.
FAN FILM PODCAST
I was also interested in exploring a format called the Podcast that had been popping up all over the internet for the past few years. What an incredible outlet to discuss fan films and interview the people who make them.
I’d been keeping in touch with Fanboy William McKenzie from Fanboy Theatre since his return from the unknown back in 2006. It was only natural that we would team up as co-hosts for such an online show.
February 16th, 2008 premiered our first episode of the Fan Film Podcast through the free service MyPodcast.com. Earlier this year MyPodcast.com shut their doors. We currently moved all the episodes over to TalkShoe as well as hosting them on the Fan Film Follies server.
Everyone we interviewed to date has been exceptional, truly a fantastic community and a fantastic group of people.
You may or may not have noticed our last episode of the Fan Film Podcast was posted on May 19th of last year. There are plans for the podcast to return this summer so stay tuned.
FAN FILM FOLLIES – THE WEBSITE
It had been on my mind for a long time and it was really the natural progression of things. In September of 2009 I opened the Fan Film Follies website. It’s been a liberating experience to run a site where you have the wheel. This allows for the site to move with the times. Along the way I’ve had like minded people join and contribute to the site. I’d like to give a big thank you to our current and past contributors who have made this site extra special: Jeff Smith, Lee James Sands, Dr. John Walliss, Randy Hall, and Larry Longstreth.
So here we all are in 2012. I’ll more than likely be running this site to my grave so get ready for the future of what fan films are going to offer. It will be very interesting to see where the next ten years will take us. With the technology and sophistication of a new generation of filmmakers fan films are going to close the gap even further in relation to your typical Hollywood Blockbuster.
I can’t end this brainless rant without thanking all the talent behind the productions we cover here on the Fan Film Follies. Some of the films may be a little bit rough around the edges, but I applaud anyone who can take limited resources in the creation of a work of art. And of course I have to thank all our readers because without you this website wouldn’t exist.
Happy 10th Anniversary Fan Film Follies!