Fan Film, Fan Films

MGM Kills Historic James Bond Fan Film

One of James Bond’s greatest enemies is the secret organization SMERSH; in the world of James Bond fan films, however, the biggest opponent is another outfit with a name of initials: MGM. The Hollywood studio struck again Tuesday, as the fan film, Moonraker ’78, was forced off YouTube.

Fan filmmaker Stuart Basinger, who produced and played Bond in the production 30 years ago, received a take-down notice from YouTube. “Well, it was fun while it lasted,” he remarked on the Bond fan site, “What is interesting is that a Super 8mm fan film is a threat to MGM while numerous clips and re-edits continue to flood [YouTube].”

In a glaring error, although Moonraker ’78 was posted in four segments, only the first one was removed, leaving the remaining three online. However, since the take-down notice states, “Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account,” Basinger has announced he will voluntarily remove the remaining segments at the end of this week.

The removal of Moonraker ’78 is a considerable blow to the fan film community, due to the movie’s historical significance. Shot in 1978, it was the first film directed by Trey Stokes, creator of the wildly popular Pink Five series, which has won multiple trophies at the Lucasfilm Star Wars Fan Film Awards. While he made the Bond movie as a teenager, Stokes has a lasting regard for the work, particularly the mid-movie chase scene through a clone factory, . As he explained in an interview for the upcoming fan film book, , “In retrospect, it boggles my mind that we had the audacity to do that chase, but the scene looks great; it really moves. To this day, I still go ‘That may be the best action scene I’ve ever directed.’”

The film is also important for its unusual background: Despite its title, Moonraker ’78 remained unfinished until 2003, as many of its visual effects were impossible to create with the consumer filmmaking equipment of the 1970s. With the advent of modern video editing systems and special effects software, Basinger—who, inspired by the fan filmmaking experience, grew up to become a video editor for Fox News—was able to finally complete the film’s complex special effects, film editing and extensive foley work, decades after beginning the project. As a result, the film provides a unique juxtaposition, having used modern gear to add a commercial sheen to grainy amateur footage from another era.

This is not the first time MGM has gone to war with fan films. Teetering forever on the brink of extinction, the studio has scraped by numerous times on the financial worth of its film library, and among its assets, no diamond has shone brighter than the evergreen spy series starring 007. Accordingly, the studio has long been protective of its franchise, having previously forced fan film websites such as and CMGN (CommanderBond.Net Media Group Network) to be shuttered a number of years back.

A die-hard follower of the spy’s adventures, Basinger has run his own popular Bond fan website, Dr. Shatterhand’s Botanical Garden, for more than a decade. Perhaps in keeping with 007’s famed stoicism in the face of brutality, he grimly quipped about the takedown notice, “I will keep this as a badge of honor.”

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