The Hunt For Gollum + Interview with director Chris Bouchard; Born of Hope, Trouble Of The Ring, Star Wreck + update to the IRON SKY project
Fan-Films, that means films made by fans for fans, promoted via WWW - is it a new cultural phenomenon or just a logical consequence of Internet-Youtube-culture where anybody can become a filmmaker?, Well, those examples here in question are definitely different, only because of all those years of meticulous work and dedication of film-enthusiasts, and that can hardly be compared with a funny 2-min Youtube-Clip.
The Hunt For Gollum came out in May this year as free download, and it could be an "official" preview to Peter Jackson´s legendary trilogy without sticking out like a sore thumb. The script is adapted from elements of the appendices of The Lord of the Rings. The story follows Aragorn, the Heir of Isildur; as he sets out to find the creature Gollum. The creature must be found to discover the truth about the Ring, and to protect the future Ringbearer.
It´s obvious that the team around director Chris Bouchard invested a great deal of work into capturing the Jackson-trilogy-feeling. Apart from a few details - when e.g. a wig looks to much like one - this film is absolutely credible in terms of locations, cast ("Aragorn" Adrian Webster looks indeed like Viggo Mortensen), action, costumes or soundtrack (by Adam Langston, Andrew Skrabutenas, Chris Bouchard) and captures the atmosphere of their big "idols". And this without a million-dollar-budget...
The Hunt For Gollum is an unofficial not for profit 40-min film by a group of enthusiast filmmakers. As a Lord of the Rings Fan Film, we are not affiliated with the Tolkien Estate or New Line Cinema and are producing this project as an entirely non commercial film. Production began in early 2007 when writer-director Chris Bouchard started adapting the script from the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings. Since then, the first three days of filming were completed in September 2007 on location in N Wales. In May 2009 the result premiered on the website www.hunt4gollum.com.
But let´s have director Chris Bouchard tell the story himself:
How come you ended up as a film maker / composer, what inspired you? I love movies, and I´m fascinated by every aspect of making them. It´s an unique combination of technical and creative challenges. I guess it started with my interested as a composer for film, and being interested in how sound can change or enhance the meaning of moving pictures. It´s pretty powerful. From there I got interested in cameras, acting and storytelling.
You still seem so young (judging from the photo), so are you still studying film, what is your goal in the "industry"? I´ve just turned 27, so not all that young! But I´ve not studied film, my approach has been to learn films by making them myself. Film school is too expensive, so I put my savings into my own films like The Hunt For Gollum.
How did you find the cast? Most of them (Aragorn & Arithir) were friends I´d worked with on films before. The rest we found through posting ads on the internet and doing a few auditions.
As it´s for free on the net, how do you get along, like doing a regular day job and film-making as a sort of demanding "hobby"? What is your personal "pay-off" investing so much time (and money) in projects like this? Well the only pay off so far has the satisfaction of knowing that a lot of people have watched our work. But that alone has been worth the effort. I´m looking to start making a feature film next, and eventually/one day become a full time film-maker. But in the meantime I carry on my job as a video engineer.
Why did you "take on" the most difficult projects (Star Wars, LOTR) - just to cope with the special effects side of it must have been HELL :D It was - sometimes! But if you try and keep trying, you can succeed. The special effects were all down to the fantastic team who came on board, and Adam Thomas for supervising over 100 shots!
Are you satisfied with the reactions on the Gollum film so far? Any surprises? I was pretty surprised by the reaction. I was expecting a lot of hate from other hardcore fans like myself. I didn´t feel I´d achieved what I set out to make, and wasn´t expecting so many nice comments on the website.
Your next project? A feature length film. Probably a horror, or if we get a big enough investor, an original fantasy epic. I´ve also made a few producer contacts through the film which might eventually lead to bigger projects. For the moment I´m writing and enjoying the sunshine.
More Infos: http://www.thehuntforgollum.com/
From the same website more links to other Tolkien fan films can be found, for example to
Born of Hope This 60 minute Lord of the Rings inspired film was produced in the UK. A low budget production, the entire cast and crew are giving their services for no financial gain. The trailer and video featurettes from the test shoot in April 2006 following an idea forming in 2003 when actor/filmmaker Kate Madison wanted to send a film to a Tolkien Fan Film Exhibition. The subject matter and quality has attracted people from around the world to join the team, even gaining support and interest from some of the original New Line Trilogy cast and crew members including Richard Taylor and the Oscar® winning team at Weta Workshop, New Zealand.
Also this story is a LOTR "preview", set in the time before the War of the Ring and tells the story of the Dúnedain, the Rangers of the North, before the return of the King. A scattered people, the descendents of storied sea kings of the ancient West, struggle to survive in a lonely wilderness as a dark force relentlessly bends its will toward their destruction. Yet amidst these valiant, desperate people, hope remains. A royal house endures unbroken from father to son. Inspired by only a couple of paragraphs written by Tolkien in the appendices of the Lord of the Rings we follow Arathorn and Gilraen, the parents of Aragorn, from their first meeting through a turbulent time in their people´s history.
Here the trailer http://www.bornofhope.com/Videos.html#May2009Trailer
Trouble Of The Ring This trilogy was born in Russia in 2002 and rather seems to fit to the idea you might get hearing the expression "fan-film". Although the makers invested years, enthusiasm and dedication - no greed of gain whatsoever - you cannot deny certain deficiencies (in terms of tecnical gear, special effects, filmmaker skills, costumes, props etc) in comparison with the "professionals". On the contrary, those deficiencies are even exaggerated - it´s a luscious parody.
You see ring wraiths on bicycles or scooters, battles rage in front of castle "walls" that could be easily climbed without ladders, Gandalf wears a Cowboy hat and Aragorn a baseball cap., several battle scenes appear un-directed and regardless of consequences...
Many roles were cast with females, like the Hobbits who can easily be recognized by their huge slippers, and the - female - Gollum wears scuba gear. Locations are for example the main building of Moscow University, during the summer holidays, as Minas Tirith, or the abandoned Metro-Station "Leninskie Gory" as Mount Doom.
This uncommercial Russion project was born in the Russian language forum Henneth-Annun.ru, mainly consisting of female users- Due to the support by enthusiastic fans it grew to a 3 year journey to Middle Earth, resulting in 3 films with 75 minutes each, that were also shown in Russian movie theaters. 2004 the trilogy trailer received the "Best Parody" award at RingCon. The storyline keeps close to Jackson´s trilogy, the score contains original compositions and several homages to Howard Shore´s Oscar-crowned music.
Downloads of the films could not be found, but trailers can be seen here:
All films are available on DVD also for international audience, single or in a 4-DVD set, and you just pay for the shipment. Check out those websites:
Finland has witnessed a special fan-film phenomenon already in 2005:
Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning premiered in August 2005 as free download, made by a handful of students from Tampere after seven (!!) years of preparation. Within the first 4 days they had 400.000 visitors, and only a few weeks later, October 2005, they broke all records when STAR WRECK: IN THE PIRKINNING had been downloaded 3 Mio times. The biggest Finnish newspaper called it "the most popular Finnish movie of all times" - well, definitely, considering that the whole Finnish nation has like 5 Mio citizens. But also internationally this film made a mark and still holds the rating of 7/10 in the reknowned Internet Movie Database, not only because those excellent special effects. The story - the title says it all - deals with a parody of everyone and everything in the Star Trek universe, plus Finland, and some scenes are so silly you cannot help laughing hysterically...
In the meantime Captain Pirk conquered national and international TV-channels, too (Italy, Belgium), and this trend is continuing, towards "conquering the world" - with DVD, Merchandise, a role playing game - as free download... Moreover, there´s a new DVD withthose original Star Wreck short films of the same creators, from the period 1992 - 2000, named STAR WRECK - LEGACY now available. And of course, you can still get the original STAR WRECK film as a free download, here
or via various mirror-sites, e.g. http://lame.lut.fi/starwreck/
The makers of "Pirkinning" have another upcoming project:
Moon Nazis Are Coming - The First Footage from Iron Sky Released! Blind Spot Pictures and Energia Productions have released the first footage from their upcoming science fiction movie Iron Sky. In the world of Iron Sky the Nazis left for the Moon in 1945 - and in 2018 they are coming back. The movie is a science fiction black comedy, a Finnish-German co-production shot mainly in English.
You can see the fresh footage on Energia´s YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/Energiaproductions) and on the Iron Sky website (http://www.ironsky.net/).
The footage - edited into teaser format - was filmed in Tampere, Finland in March, but the main shooting of the film will begin later this year. The soundtrack was provided by Slovenian underground music heavyweight Laibach, who will also create the soundtrack of the movie. The CGI effects were created by Energia Productions.
The budget of Iron Sky is 6.5 million euros, making it one of the most expensive Finnish film projects to date, and it will be released in 2011. Iron Sky is the second film project from the creators of Star Wreck, an internet phenomenon that has gathered over eight million viewers all around the world.
"We shot this footage mainly to make sure our workflow works as planned", says the director Timo Vuorensola. "The visual look and feel is one of the biggest challenges we need to overcome. Shooting this footage - which we will also use in the final film when it comes out - provided us with enough material to test out several options and pin down one. I'm hoping to find a visual combination that's unique: something that looks a bit like a comic book and a bit like concept art, but with a definite photorealistic atmosphere."
The movie is directed by Timo Vuorensola and produced by Tero Kaukomaa (Blind Spot Pictures), Samuli Torssonen (Energia Productions) and Oliver Damian (27 Films Production). The main cast includes Julia Dietze (1½ Ritter), Götz Otto (Schindler's List, The Downfall), Tilo Prückner (The Neverending Story, Die Fälscher) and Udo Kier (Dogville, Dancer in the Dark). The screenplay is written by the acclaimed sci-fi writer Johanna Sinisalo (Nebula Award nominee 2009, Finlandia Prize 2000) and Michael Kalesniko (Private Parts).
The first teaser of Iron Sky was released in 2008 and it has gathered over 3.7 million views.
The creators of Iron Sky are very active in the social media and have gathered a sizable international fan following. On a weekly basis over 60,000 people follow the movie project and collaborate with it, and the figure keeps rising daily. People interested in Iron Sky can show their enthusiasm by demanding to see the movie in their own city at http://www.ironsky.net/demand/, join the production and collaborate with the filmmakers at http://www.wreckamovie.com/ and invest money in the movie project at http://www.ironsky.net/invest/