The huge impact of various audio and visual media: Fan films
“A fan film is a film or video inspired by a film, television program, comic book, book, or video game created by fans rather than by the source’s copyright holders or creators. Fan filmmakers have traditionally been amateurs, but some of the more notable films have actually been produced by professional filmmakers as film school class projects or as demonstration reels. Fan films vary tremendously in quality, as well as in length, from short faux-teaser trailers for non-existent motion pictures to full-length motion pictures. Fan films are also examples of fan labor and the remix culture. Closely related concepts are Fandubs, Fansubs and Vidding which are reworks of fans on already released film material.”
Legality of Fan Films
Due to copyright protection, trademark protection and limited fair use provisions, fan films made without official authorization might exist in a legal grey area.
Still, fan films often operate under the radar or IP owners turning a blind eye as long these are a non-commercial activities.
“We got in touch with Tolkien Enterprises and reached an understanding with them that as long as we are completely non-profit then we’re okay. […] They are supportive of the way fans wish to express their enthusiasm.”
The Hunt for Gollum, Chris Bouchard (2009)
Also, lawmakers strengthened fan activities in recent years by extending fair use cases; for instance, in 2012 Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act explicitly added an exemption which allows non-commercial creation of fan film material. A 2013 US court ruling Lenz v. Universal Music Corp. acknowledged that creative fan activities on copyrighted works might fall under fair use and requested that copyright holders check and respect fair use before doing DMCA take down notices.
Extrarts from Wikipedia.
In this article we will use as an example of fan films, Chris R. Notarile’s Fan Film “The F**king Mask”
Blinky Productins and Chris R. Notarile
The film starts with the familiar logo of Blinky Productins, a audio and visual production team that has 146 titles listed on IMDb. Some may know Blinky from mastering fan films that are usually praised by the media or the fans. But Blinky also has many original works. Chris R. Notarile, the owner of Blinky Productions is a talented and passionate writer, director, cinematographer who enjoys what he does a lot, but also has the bases and educational background to support it. Chris has graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in animation. Majoring in Stop-Motion animation, (a sub genre in which films like “Corpse Bride” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” are made)
Chris learned various techniques in the art of special FX making, from makeup and prosthetics to set design and prop building
The film is a great fun ride that prooved Chris’ respect for the original property of The Mask. For those who may not know, The Mask is a comic book series created by Doug Mahnke and John Arcudi and published by Dark Horse Comics.
The talented fillmaker, respecting the character roots, gave a fresh air to the character’s legacy. The film was crafted and made with love and that is visible on every frame. Much work was put on, as the film featuring a credited make up artist that contribute to deliver the director’s vision proffessionaly, making a film that the cast and crew and every people involved would feel proud, and also respect the original properties.
The final credits card of the film, states that the project is a Fan Film!
Why is this happening ? Fan films are result of the big impact and inspiration that coming from various audio and visual media. Some people, hungry for a few seconds of fame, “views” and attention, they make films based on known characters and properties. On the worst case, they usualy use the original copyright holder’s logos, or they make misleading states, click bait titles, (having “official” in the title can lead anyone who use in in trouble. There is a significant difference labeling your film “original” as it stastes that is an original piece of work, than label it “official” that means its related to a position of responsibility.) fake thumbnails, that could confuse many people and fans, that they can easily assume a “fan film” it’s an official work. Stating on your title that what you made a fan fim, cleary shows that you are aware you made a fan film and you let your viewers know that they just watched a fanfiction work!
Chris seems to enjoy making fan films and visualize his ideas about some popular characters. Closely related concepts to fan films are Fandubs, Fansubs and Vidding which are reworks of fans on already released film material. Notarile is a talented filmmaker. He is Writer and Director. What he loves the most and as we read above, his major studies are related , is filmmaking. Obviously someone who loves writing can write a Fan Fiction based on their favorite works, and the same way a filmaker can make a fan film based on an audio or visual media that they like.
Among the many films Chris made, there are many fan films that draw the attention of many people & news sites. But Blinky Productions fan base its not based on fan films only. He may have a lot fan films on his resume, but there are many original works by him that also become succeful and people loved them, proving that Chris is something more than just a fan who took a camera and made some fan films projects for fame or attention. That Chris R. Notarile is a very talented creator and a visionary filmmaker.
Fan works have not many differences compared to original visual works. Both need a cast and crew to be made. Both need time, script and equipment, locations and talents. Actresses and actors are essestial part of making a film. Talents and Crew, if it possible by the production companies, should not work for free, unless they all agree and make a deal about it.
To deliver a good film, a fan film or an original work, you need money.
Since fan films are in no way affiliated with the original copyright holders or companies, as well they are non-profit films for private use only, and is not intended for sales of any sort,many filmmakers use crowdfunding platforms for the funding of their fan films.
Christos Arfanis, 2020