Fan Film, Fan Films

See Watchmen NOW—In Under 45 Minutes!


FCT has covered Watchmen fan films a few times (and even the occasional cool knock-off). With the feature film hitting theaters soon, you’d think there would be an onslaught of related fan productions hitting the web. You’d also be wrong. Hurm. Nonetheless, this week, we’ll take a look at some of the fan-created offerings out there on the web.

Decades ago, when Terry Gilliam was signed to direct the Watchmen feature film, he suggested that to be done properly, it ought to be a 12-part miniseries—with the budget to match. Fast-forward to today and everyone’s wondering how the heck director Zach Snyder will fit the massive graphic novel into a single film, even with a $130 million budget and a two-hour and 41-minute running time at his disposal.

With that in mind, you have to give Casey Ellis, a fan filmmaker at Indiana University, credit; with a budget of $1,000, he shot Watchmen: Rorschach, which tells the entire story in two hours less time than Snyder. That’s right: 43 minutes. I can’t claim that I sat through all of it—I couldn’t because Part One of the five part-flick is missing online. Apparently, it included a copyrighted song and YouTube pulled it (Shhh, don’t tell them about Hendrix’s “The Wind Cries Mary” over the closing credits in Part 5!)

Anyway, catch the surviving segments—and an exclusive interview with Ellis—after the jump.

You shot this around a college campus–are you a student?
I am a theater and drama student at Indiana University. This was not made for school, just a continuation of amateur movie making that I started in Jr. High. The film was shot during the winter of 2007 and into 2008, but I had been scouting locations, writing the script and such since the summer of 2007.

What made you choose the “unfilmable” Watchmen?
This is my first and probably only fan film; it was just a big experiment. I made this fan film primarily because after I read the graphic novel, I couldn’t stop thinking about the questions it brought up in my mind. Would there be justification for killing so many people if you potentially saved the entirety of humanity?

Of course, Rorschach was my focal character, and I felt his uncompromising look on the dichotomy of good and evil was intriguing. I wanted to explore the world of these characters.

Another reason was that I also wanted to challenge myself as an amateur filmmaker. This was all an experiment. I went at this throwing a little over a grand of my own money into the project. This was a huge undertaking, considering the crew consisted of myself, and the actors, pretty much. When my Adrian wasn’t in a shot, it was time for him to hold a boom.

One surprising thing is the number of older actors–most fan films rarely feature anyone over 30. How did you get older actors?
They are some local people I’m friends with. “Dan” is my high school drama club instructor. “Rorschach” is a member of my home county’s theatre company, The Orange County Players. The TV reporter was my high school television instructor and friend—during the 1980s, he actually was a television anchorman in Indianapolis.

Any idea when/if Part One will get back online?
Part I was taken down recently because of a copyright thing. I used the Jimi Hendrix cover of “All Along the Watchtower” for the opening credit montage… and apparently that is a YouTube no-no. Over Spring Break, when I have some spare time in my schedule, I plan to re-cut that so it can get back on YouTube. It’s a shame it’s not up right now, because I think that is the best of all the segments.

What has the reaction to Watchmen: Rorschach been like?

The initial reaction was very positive when I first showed the finished product to some fellow students. When we hit YouTube, I knew things were gonna get harsher—this is fan country! I get a lot of flack for making it on such a low budget and some of its campy production values, or that I changed the pronunciation of Adrian’s last name (which was intentional to show his immersion into American culture and launch his image).

Of course, I’m fine with general, authentic criticisms, but some people just enjoy throwing obscenities because they like seeing their words on a message board. All I can say is that I wanted to tell a story—a story I felt connected with. I don’t force people to watch it and I charged you nothing. I hope people like it; if not? Eh.

Like this story? Tell the world:

Comments are closed.

RSS for Posts RSS for Comments