David Noble was born and raised in Tampa, where he learned all he could about making movies. His friends and he used to make the old ninja flicks, which developed into their first project, Knight Squad. In high school, at the young age of 17, Dave enlisted. In college at the University of Tampa, Dave interned with ABC, Disney, and Playboy, but most importantly he built the campus television station for closed circuit use. After graduation he became an Engineer Officer and lived for three years in Korea, where Dave met his wife. They moved back, and subsequently lived in seven homes over the course of eight years of marriage – the military likes to move people around a lot. Dave commanded in Kansas, gained my MBA in Chicago, and currently live in New York at the Military Academy. His son, Zack, was born last year, and really placed a lot of perspective in Dave’s life.
Fan Films Quarterly derived from Dave getting “burned” by another supposed fan film magazine, Online Entertainment Magazine (OEM). He paid the money, never got the issue, and was pissed. Well, with a background in newspaper publishing, having written his own books and comics, as well as years of other forms of communication experience, Dave decided to make his own magazine. Up to this point he had already been the Senior editor for a military magazine, Troop Talk, which was distributed to thousands of soldiers in Korea, and won awards for my works in professional engineering magazines. FFQ could be no different, except for the subject matter and legality of the genre. So, while still in Chicago in the Fall of 2005, the first issue of FFQ was published. Without Lulu.com and print-on-demand publishing, none of this would have ever happened.
FAN FILM FOLLIES (through Christopher Moshier): What is the big attraction to fan films?
DAVID NOBLE: The big attraction for my involvement into fan films is two-fold. First of all, fan films are based on what the fans want, hence the term. Fans dictate what they want to see, not Hollywood. Hollywood can really mess up a commodity (He-man, Daredevil, Batman & Robin); should I go on? When the fans make a movie, they do it for the love of the genre. No one is getting paid to make fan films. No one is under pressure to make these movies. Comic storylines are generally more truthful in fan film versions. It’s an opportunity for the fans to get together on a common ground and make something they enjoy. The other attraction is that it’s so guerrilla. “Do it yourself” film-making is so exciting when you have to re-think situations based on financial, technical, or contractual constraints. You cannot just say, “Oh, we’ll fix that in post”, because you may not have a post-production team. You have what you own, or have borrowed, or have manipulated others into providing. Guerrilla film making. How cool is that!
FFF: What was your first fan film experience?
DN: Batman Dead End – no doubt. Sandy Collora opened my eyes to what could be. And it was difficult to match that high standard of excellence because he had a pseudo-Hollywood background and cast/crew to make his project. When you invest $30k into a 7-minute fan film, you expect a higher quality. Most groups don’t have $300, let alone what Sandy had. But, he also let others know, through mainstream publicity like Wired and Wizard Magazines that these rogue films do exist, and they are pretty damn good.
Once I became embedded into fan film continuity, I realized that I had been watching these projects for some time. I had seen Troops in Korea years before Dead End, but did not know what it was, and had even made some of my own “fan films” in college, in the forms of Star Trek and Mortal Kombat parodies. Quick reviews of the existing projects led me to Grayson, Green Goblin’s Last Stand, Hidden Frontier, and Revelations.
FFF: How was the book put together?
DN: For the most part, FFQ is developed by myself spearheading the direction of the issue. I develop story ideas, send them out to friends and others interested in contributing, and let them run with it. Once I receive a story, I fine-tune it to fit the parameters of the given space, and ultimately ensure accuracy and positivity. We don’t advertise, that is very important to know. You won’t see beer ads or Marlboro ads. Instead, we place fan film movie posters and website banners throughout our issues to promote the genre. Many people have contacted us asking for articles to be written on them, but with a limited amount of space and limited staff, we opt for movie poster “ad” space instead. In the end, we attempt to promote as many fan films as possible.
We use Microsoft Publisher currently, which was simply easiest to learn without tutorials. Film Makers have been really receptive to our promotion of their projects. Some creators have been familiar to this level of exposure, having won awards at festivals, been on local and national television, and been interviewed for other print media. But, for the majority of fan film creators, they accepted our existence because we provided a reassurance that their efforts were noticed. That’s important to us, to promote the continued development of fan film entertainment.
FFF: How would you make the FFQ different in the future? Lulu is a good service, but expensive. Would you consider other forms of printing and distribution? In the same area how has the FFQ evolved from your first issue to the last?
DN: I picked up an iMac, and discovered some new print editing tools I would like to use. But, that may not happen since we are stopping (hopefully temporarily) after issue #7 (this issue was released online March 10th at www.fanfilmsquarterly.com and thru Lulu.com.
FFF: Lulu is a good service, but expensive. Would you consider other forms of printing and distribution? In the same area how has the FFQ evolved from your first issue to the last?
DN: Lulu is very expensive, and we wish the issues would be drastically cheaper. Who pays $15 for a single magazine? Not many I can tell you. If you’ve worked for Lulu the first thing you learn is that everyone pays – even the creator. If I want an issue of my own magazine, I’m paying. People ask for free copies – well, at $20 a pop, I don’t do that too often. Clifford Hoeft, a friend from Australia, helped us out in cover designs, so I sent some issues his way. That was worth the extra postage too. I wish I could have used other forms of distro, but to purchase bulk printing at 1,000 copies per issue, would mean devising a complex mailing system we were not prepared to handle. Lulu, albeit expensive, saves a lot of hassle for us. Because of the prices, many people download the issue, which is great. We normally break even on each issue, with free copies and other charges we accrue over the 3-month developmental period.
FFF: How has the FFQ evolved from your first issue to the last?
DN: Over the last 2 years, FFQ evolved from simply reporting the news to developing stories that provide a statement. Fan films can hurt the creators on so many levels. They can strain relationships, create financial burdens, and consume much of a person’s life. We were no different here. We tackled the fun stories, like websites, theme songs, and costumes, but also the legal and financial ramifications of making these movies. Most of all, we constantly promote the non-profit aspect of these movies. Don’t make money, because legally you are wrong to do any such thing. The main selling point of our magazines was that we brought up the issues many were thinking about, but could not articulate. Where are the “fan film awards”, how do you improve quality in a project, how does a website and soundtrack improve the total fan film package? We talked about them all, brother.
FFF: What is your favorite fan film?
DN: Grayson was probably my favorite, because I really believed that this little trailer could have been developed into an actually movie. I thought the footage shot was actually part of a larger project to make a movie, but it wasn’t. Where did John Fiorella go, anyways? He had it down. He created a 30-minute expose on his creative process, and provided our inspiration on the financial burdens which we later reported. Another great fan film was World’s Finest (Another Collora Production), and high marks may go to Revelations and Dark Redemption (both Star Wars Properties).
FFF: You and your Stormfront Productions produced your own film on the Character DEADSHOT. How did this come about and what did you actually learn from the whole experience?
DN: Early in making FFQ, we started questioning our ability to report and confront the real issues in fan film continuity. How can you honestly talk about something from an outside view? Well, there’s only one way to solve that – make your own fan film! Personally, I loved the Suicide Squad, and it seemed a no-brainer to make a quick action vehicle based on Deadshot. We developed the story, then the costume, then found our main actor – working in a department store in Orange Couty, NY. Do you know how weird it is to go up to a guy and say, “Wanna make a movie?” Strange looks ensue, but Eugene was great to work with. He was really professional and a pleasure to work with. Renee, Michelle, Wayne, everyone put in a lot to make that project work. What we learned was that an 8-minute short film takes time – one year, to be exact. In the process, we developed title sequences, green screen (which is hard), a DVD package, and a website to promote the project. We made the most of the package, and learned from it. Since then, we feel we have the authority to talk about other fan film projects.
FFF: Spring 2007 marks your last issue of the FFQ for the foreseeable future. Why you didn’t let your fellow contributors kind of carry the mantle in your absence?
DN: When I first found out I was deploying to Iraq, I discussed options with everyone. One of them was to make a clean break in production because of the trials and tribulations everyone else was facing, not just my going off to war. Just like fan films, we made this magazine as a hobby, spending many weekends away from our families and loved ones to make this happen. Over two years, it can become a burden. We loved every moment of making this publication, but we all decided that this would be a good opportunity to focus on other adventures. And, in the Summer of 2008, I may wrangle these folks up and start again. Time will tell.
There is nothing to say that another group couldn’t take up the mantle. FFQ doesn’t own the monopoly on fan film reporting – just make sure you don’t burn the audience like OEM.
FFF: What are your best memories dealing with FFQ over the past couple years?
DN: First and foremost, the interaction with the creative geniuses that are fan film creators. Talking to Cliff Hoeft after he was stranded in England from terrorist bombings was an experience. Conversing about music with Rene Perez in Oakland was an experience. Meeting the Original Warriors for our current contest and interviews was an experience. Chris & Niki Notarile, the 501st, Hank B bustin’ those ghosts, and so many others too numerous to mention. Oh, and thank you to everyone who provided us DVDs of your projects for us to review – we built a collection that we had to divide amongst us once this issue came out.
FFF: Where do you think the fan film is going with growing technologies and actual license owners really taking a pro and con notice of these films?
DN: George Lucas gets it. Dungeons and Dragons get it. Fan films are out there, and they are going to consume the global superhighway whether licensed owners like it or not. Why does DC Comics have to place bans at conventions to showcase fan films admiring their commodities? Star Wars, Star Trek (to some extent) and others have embraced these projects to the point where they are hiring fan film talent! Kevin Rubio, who made Troops, is now writing comics for Dark Horse Entertainment based on Star Wars. Star Trek alums George Takei & Walter Koenig are actors in New Voyages. Mack Dadd’s fan film Choices was added to the special features of the Dungeons & Dragons animated series DVD. Slowly, but surely, fan films are rising onto mainstream’s radar, and there’s no stopping it.
FFF: What is the ultimate fan film that hasn’t been made yet that you want to see? What characters who haven’t appeared yet are you itching to check out?
DN: Every issue we write a column called “Fan Films we want to see”, where we answer just that. We mentioned KISS, The Warriors, Watchmen, and others. We also wanted to talk about He-Man, Spiral Zone (yeah, that’s right), and the Teen Titans. We wanted Quicksilver (Marvel, that is), we wanted Powers, and we wanted others. Ultimately, we want to promoted diversity. You don’t have to make 500 batman fan films when there is Moon Knight, Nightwing, and Comedian (Astro City) waiting to be tapped. Why make a Punisher fan film when you can make one out of any number of other non-powered comic book heroes? Deadshot was made to be the exception to Punisher.
FFF: Anything else you would like to add that you think is important?
DN: We have often gone out on a limb, either through editorials, or other aspects of FFQ, to motivate the creators to do their best. Sometimes it may appear to be crude or a beating on the fan film accomplishments, but we don’t see things that way. We wanted to promote the best creativity in fan film development. Take the time to think through your projects, your filming, your editing, and your overall vision. Why compromise because of time or support? The great thing about fan films is that you choose to make them. No one is forcing you to create them. Do your best, but give your best. That’s all the fans can ask for.