Fan Film, Fan Films

Analysis: Too Much Of A Good Thing?

reignIt’s been pointed out more than once that this site tends to feature shorter fan films—and it’s true. Short fan movies, running under 10-12 minutes, tend to be more fun, more memorable and generally better than their longer counterparts. This point of view runs against the prevailing wisdom about pretty much everything else in modern American society, where bigger is always better unless it’s a cell phone or a supermodel’s waistline (and that supermodel’s cell phone? Forget it—it’s microscopic).

I’d wager that the majority of fan films are comedies, which makes sense since there’s a safety factor; most fan flicks that play it serious get laughable results, so making things humorous on purpose puts you ahead of the game. Typically, shorter is better, because in comedy, a quick exit can only help matters; after all, it was George Bush Bill Clinton George Clinton Shakespeare who said “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Just look at the movie reviewed yesterday, Bustin’ Makes Me Feel Good, or the one mentioned in last week’s analysis, ; amusing stuff to be sure, but they know when to call it a day. Nothing’s more un-funny than a joke that outstays its welcome.

The other factor about short movies is that they’re more concise; they have focus and don’t waste your time. By getting to the meat-and-potatoes of storytelling, their overall message, whether comedic or serious, is that much louder as a result.

Longer fan films have their place, of course, but they’re a much more perilous feat for the amateur filmmaker. Since most people see fan productions on the internet, the promise of something more interesting to watch/do is only a mouse-click away. All films have to work to keep the viewer’s interest, but lengthier fan flicks need to labor that much harder: The longer a movie is, the higher the odds that viewers will jump ship before it’s over. With a short picture, folks are more likely to sit through the end–because it’s only a few minutes away.

Some of the better lengthy fan films are known more for their effects and stunts than their stories. Certainly Star Wars: Revelations and Dan Poole’s early-Nineties epic, The Green Goblin’s Last Stand, come to mind—the former for its eye-popping effects on a par with anything on Sci-Fi Network, and the latter because even all these years later, when you see Poole swinging six stories above the ground in a homemade Spider-Man costume, you still pray that he doesn’t kill himself.

Depsite going against the odds, there are some long fan efforts that can rock your world with their stories, too. Consider the Star Wars fan film Reign of the Fallen; it’s a good movie—perhaps a great one if you consider it’s a fan production. If you’re looking for wall-to-wall action and loads of special effects, it’s not for you, but Reign has a potent story, thoughtful dialogue, a slow pace akin to something you’d see on IFC, only one truly bad actor and it’s gorgeously shot. What more can you ask for? A long fan film may be a tightrope walk for amateur directors, but these guys get it right.

The merits of “long versus short” are just a matter of opinion, of course, and for every rule (say, FCT noting that short flicks are better), there’s always going to be brilliant exceptions. Thank goodness for that; probably the only thing that everyone can agree on is that in “good movies versus bad movies,” you’re better off seeing a good one, no matter how long it runs. In the end, there’s nothing wrong with aiming high (and long), and if a first-time director wants to make a fan tribute to Andy Warhol’s The 24 Hour Movie, well, go for it.

Like this story? Tell the world:

Comments are closed.

RSS for Posts RSS for Comments