Fan Film, Fan Films

Analysis: Fan Films and the Rule of Threes

Many journalists believe in the Rule of Threes: One thing happening by itself is an oddity, and two things that are alike taking place is a coincidence, but find three similar events occurring and suddenly you’ve got yourself a bonafide trend. Well, hold on folks, ’cause fan films are about to get trendy—which means Paris Hilton will make a fan flick about…um…well, probably herself, actually. Nonetheless, I hold up the Rule of Threes as incontrovertible proof that fan films are making the jump to “real cinema.”

Thing One: Last week, we broke the news that 5-25-77 was finally going to be released on 5-25-07 (which subsequently got picked up by the good people at Ain’t It Cool News, Cinematical, FilmJunk, Chimpomatic, and plenty of other sites (and ‘howdy’ to those of you who have come back after that story, too). The point is, here’s a movie about a fan filmmaker–the younger version of writer/director Pat Read Johnson (Here’s a PRJ fun-fact: Johnson wrote the script to the upcoming live-action Speed Racer movie due out in Spring, 2008; meanwhile, his heroes, Messers Lucas and Spielberg, will be releasing Indy 4 the same week).

Thing Two: The news came in late January from the Sundance Film Festival that Son of Rambow by UK music video producers Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith, A.K.A. Hammer & Tongs, sold for somewhere between $7- and $8 million. That was welcome, if unusual, news, but with two movies about fan filmmakers now, the theory graduates to an oddity.

Thing Three: Daniel Clowes, the writer of Ghost World and Art School Confidential, began working last spring for producer Scott Rudin on a script for a new film, cleverly titled Untitled Daniel Clowes Project (sometimes mistakenly called Backyard Resistance on the internet). UDCP is the amazing true story of three kids who made a shot-for-shot recreation of the first Indiana Jones movie, with Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation. That’s three fan flick-derived movies, so now it’s a trend.

The trend may yet not happen; after all, movies get sandbagged on the way to production all the time. Add in, too, that the storyline to Son of Rambow would sound to the uninitiated as quite similar to the true-life story behind Untitled Daniel Clowes Project, perhaps even similar-sounding enough to it kill it off if Rambow does well at the box office.

As if to underline the growing awareness of the fan film movement, however, New York Press (once the poor man’s Village Voice until the Voice took that mantle for itself) ran a general overview for the uninitiated two weeks ago—a well-informed piece by Curt Holman entitled Where No Fan Has Gone Before. In a move of sheer brilliance, the Press ran a letter I sent in which corrects one small problem with the story.

So, fan films might well become trendy. Proudly tell the world you watch (or perhaps make) fan films, then, because that will make the difference–plus that and $4 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

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