Fan Film, Fan Films

Dive Deep Into Fan Film Documentaries

What Are They All About?

Fan Films: What Are They All About?

There’s been a number of fan films that are documentaries, starting with 1997’s stellar Tatooine or Bust, but there’s been few documentaries about fan films. In fact, by “few,” I mean “one” and that was C.K. Hicks’ Fan Film Documentary (2006). Now there’s a second one, released by UK-based Backyard Productions just last week, entitled, Fan Films: What Are They All About? While obviously I’m inclined to say that the best way to learn about fan films is to read about them (cough, cough, click on the book cover over there on the right cough), these flicks are another cool way to enter the underground world of fan movies.

Apart from their appalling titles, both documentaries are a lot of fun, and interestingly, each stemmed from an academic assignment. Hicks’ flick was a college class piece, while Darren Scales of BYP created his 27-minute opus as part of his Masters Degree in Media Production.

While attempting to provide an overview of the genre, a sizable part of BYP’s doc is devoted to (surprise) the history of Backyard Productions. Luckily, although there is a fair amount of indulgence involved, the behind-the-scenes material is fun to watch, largely because Scales’ outfit made one of the more advanced Star Wars fan productions in recent times, The Emperor’s New Clones (AKA TENCLO). His flick also serves as a preview of sorts for an upcoming travel documentary fan film where various members of the BYP coterie visit remote locations from the Star Wars films, like the Skywalker homestead in Tunisia.

Fan Film Documentary

Fan Film Documentary

By contrast, Hicks’ 13-minute documentary provides a whirlwind overview of fan films, running through clips from influential efforts like Troops, Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, Batman: Dead End and others. In the BYP documentary, Scales is so relaxed in front of the camera that he provides a tour of the proverbial lawn where the first Backyard Productions fan film was shot in the early Nineties; Hicks, however, is more reserved, wearing black clothes while sitting still in a black chair in front of a black background under dark lighting. While his hosting segments may be ultra low-key, his friendly voice easily guides the viewer through clips from dozens of fan films to help explain the budding genre.

Both flicks take different approaches, but they each convey a strong passion for the subject and clearly both hosts are masters of the topic as well. Which documentary floats your boat more? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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