The Fan Filmmakers Film Reference Vault

Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Maurice, Apr 23, 2018.

  1. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    At the suggestion of Madame Moderator jespah I am creating this new topic. The focus here will be on films that pack a punch within the kind of restricted running time the CBS Guidelines have set forth.

    Ideally this is not a topic for sharing
    Trek fanfilms. This whole forum is for that after all. Let's keep the focus here on fillms which show just how a good a film can be up to 30sih minutes. (If they go over a bit that's fine.)

    Also, ideally we don't just dump videos here, but we also share what we think is interesting or influential or significant about them, and what inspiration we might take from them.

    Let's keep it to one film per post, too.

    I know madame has a film in mind that she'll share, so I'll leave that one to her. But I'll open this subject with a film that I think is signficant because it takes a known format—the TV anthology series—and stands it on its head. As
    Prelude to Axanar came at Star Trek via an unusual vector, this unsold Desilu pilot gives the dry anthology series format a shot in the arm (much more creatively than Axanar, IMO). In fact, even though it was not picked up, it won a Peabody award...the only unsold pilot ever to be so recognized.

    *********************​

    THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH, 1958, Desilu (link to Wikipedia Article)


    Why it's signficant

    What's fascinating about this show is that Welles uses the entire metaphorical toy train-set to put a unique spin on something that could easily have been done in a conventional and likely bland manner. Welles does with rear-projection what would be a perfect fit for a greenscreened production today: placing actors and a few set pieces in front of a screen and changing the backgrounds on the fly as needed. He utilizes freeze frames to single out evocative images and expressions. And while he plays the Hitchcockian host, he acts more as narrator than bookend, interposing the storyteller into the story itself instead of merely framing it.

    I first saw this as the opening short before a screening of Welles' The Trial and ended up discussing this more than the movie!
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
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  2. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

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    Thank you for starting this one! May I present The Red Balloon (Le Ballon Rouge) ~

    I remember seeing this in the theater as a wee jes. It was probably 1967 or 1968. I'm pretty sure my family was living in Pennsylvania by then which would put it at 1968.

    The film (per IMDB, see: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048980/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1) was released in 1956 and received an Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Screenplay. Runtime is 34 minutes, so it's just barely over the limit imposed by the guidelines. This is an older form of storytelling, and it's a slower one. So four minutes could probably be trimmed without too much loss of coherence.

    The story is simple. It's a boy with a seemingly sentient balloon that follows him to church, school, etc as he and the balloon try to elude a gang of boys bent on popping it. The film winds through the streets of Paris. It's in French with subtitles, but there's almost no dialogue so you can get by without the subtitles (I don't think I could have read all of the subtitles that quickly when I was that young yet I was still able to enjoy the film).

    What's remarkable to me, looking at it now, is what a snapshot it is of postwar Parisian life. There's a guy with a horse-drawn cart. Most people still wear hats. The boys are in short pants.

    So while it's a product of its time, and it is definitely slower paced than we're used to, the story works and the film was probably made on the cheap.

    Follow an alien child to school, or a human child with an alien pet, and you've got Star Trek ....[/MEDIA]
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018
  3. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    A tough to find sci-fi film worth watching is the 2004 adaptation this A.E. Van Vogt story. I first encountered it at San Diego ComicCon 2004.

    A Can of Paint , 2004

    Why it's signficant

    It's a simple, tense story with a totally sci-fi premise: a man gets a spot of an indestructible, unremovable alien substance on him and it begins to rapidly spread across his body, threatening to kill him. Oh, and it's absorbing energy from his ship. It's a tight 24 minutes and could easily have been done as a Trek type story.

    As above, hard to find. Not anywhere viewable online so far as I can tell. But I've seen DVDs of it for sale on Amazon.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
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  4. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Bambi Meets Godzilla (1969)
    by Marv Newland


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bambi_Meets_Godzilla
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WesternAnimation/BambiMeetsGodzilla


    A recreation (for a nice clean view on YouTube):




    Why it's significant

    First off, it's both famous and critically acclaimed.

    In terms of the thread topic, it's specifically significant for three reasons. It's a very short film. It packs a punch. And, the story approaches the shortest that's theoretically possible. After an introductory set-up, the main story consists of a single action. There is also an epilogue of sorts, namely that Godzilla's toe claws wiggle. Metacontextually, the credits provide additional humor.

    Owing to its brevity, this film is an important exhibit for the case that time constraints do not preclude the creation of a memorable and noteworthy film. Naturally, for people who aim to create, say, a Star Trek fan film, this story would be short to the point of exaggeration. What this illustrates, though, is that a story can be reduced to a starkly simple form, and yet still make a dramatic impression.
     
  5. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Heh. Lovely choice. I remember how totally off guard that caught me the first time I saw it.

    It's definitely an example of out of the box thinking, yet flawlessly logical.

    Here's the original for comparison (LINK). As you can see, most prints of it are terribly muddy.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  6. Foxhot

    Foxhot Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Unless the lead role's a redshirt.
     
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  7. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    :lol:
     
  8. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Yes, it's a fan film, but it's not Trek, and I'm using it to nail a point. It'll be the one exception I make to the rule.

    TROOPS
    , 1997

    "Minnesota nice" stormtroopers without a clue about bigger events are just like the best and worst of small town cops. "This is the ass end of space."

    Why it's significant

    A long time ago, in a media galaxy long gone, Kevin Rubio and company showed how you could take the format of one show (COPS) and apply it to another (Star Wars). Sure it was comedy, but it was a wonderfully wry way of seeing a well-known and well-loved film and franchise through an unexpected lens and which gave us a whole different way to view what we thought we knew. With very high production values for its time, Troops was the Prelude to Axanar of its day, it raised the bar but without the asshattery. It led the way down a now well-trodden path of genre and format transplantation, but nevertheless let it inspire you to come at your fanfilms from unexpected directions and utilizing unexpected approaches.

    Oh, and no Star Trek send-up has ever been this clever. Ever.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  9. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    IMO, Troops is a really great example of a funny concept that benefits from not going on too long and running the joke into the ground. It could probably be a tad tighter and not lose much, although it really replicates Cops to a tee and part of that was when things would just hang in the air.

    One clever thing that Troops does is to invert the connect-the-dots trope. Instead of worming itself into the canonical events of X and Y, it posits that we were wrong about X and Y all along, and proceeds to tell us in reality-show format what really happened, hillariously. And then, with the point made, it just wraps it up without dragging on.

    Nice film!
     
  10. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Next up...

    La Jetée, 1962
    I can't find an official version online with English subtitles, so you'll have to settle for this one.

    The title in English is "The Jetty", in reference to an airport outdoor pier.

    Many of you are likely to have seen one of the children of this film, specifically 12 Monkeys.

    In post-apocalyptic Paris scientists experiment with time travel, sending subjects backwards and forwards in time to try to get aid which will help them save their dying society. The only successful subject in this case being an unwilling prisoner with an obsession with a pre-war event where as a child he saw a woman on "la jetée" where a man died. During his trips to the past he meets and falls in love with the woman, but is constantly ripped back to his own time. His experimenters then try to project him into the future, which leads to answers to both the plight of his era and to the mystery from his past.

    Why it's significant.

    It's wildly experimental for 1962, relying almost entirely on still photographs, music, and narration to tell the story. In fact, filmmaker Chris Marker is said to have preferred to refer to it as "photo novel" rather than as a film. The use of stills is a technique which allows the images to become a sort of montage, holding on frozen moments of time, which reinforces the fractured time concept of the narrative.

    It's a wholly science fiction concept, a tale you couldn't tell without the time travel gimmick. Clocking in at just under a half-hour, it, too, demonstrates what kind of amazing stuff you can do in under 30 minutes.

    Here's a good, brief article on the film (link), but I suggest against reading it until after you've finished the "photo novel". :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
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  11. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Here's what might seem an oddball choice, but bear with me...

    Cowboy Bebop, Session 1, "Asteroid Blues", 1998
    (カウボーイビバップ, Kaubōi Bibappu)



    SAMPLE SCENE (English dub)​

    Yes, it's an episode, but as the first episode of the show it can be watched as a stand-alone (aside from the pre-title images). The story is self-contained and introduces us to protagonist Spike Spiegel and his partner Jet Black mostly through action and minimal dialog. In fact, much of Bebop is show not tell, and if you don't pay attention to the images you'll miss a lot, including some of the characterization which comes across via body language. Illustrated radio (ahem, Star Trek TAS) this ain't. In this first segment we arrive in medias res, and there's zip exposition about the world these characters inhabit. We see the Astral Gates in operation and hear a message about tolls, and that's it. We're told we're going to "Tijuana" but no one explains that it's a domed settlement on an asteroid. We just see these things in context and the pieces start to come together.

    A reviewer for AV Club said of the show, "its style is largely a function of its characters" and that's exactly so. The show mostly portrays character through action; what they do and how they do it often tells us more about them than what they say. In fact, their actions frequently contradict their words.

    Narratively, things are set up here which not only play out in the episode (e.g. "You take women too lightly") but also play out over the course of the series, so the show pulls off the neat trick of setup with immediate payoff and long-term payoff.

    As the title might suggest another notable thing about Bebop is that it's heavily musically influenced. The episodes are called "sessions". The titles and story themes are often plays on song titles (e.g. "Stray Dog Strut"). The show has a snazzy jazz/blues soundtrack courtesy composer/musician Yoko Kanno and the concept of bepop jazz is something of a theme (pun intended) because the characters are forever improvising and expressing their individual voices yet operating as part of a group (less obvious in this first episode where only two of the four starring characters—five in you count Ein—are yet in play). In fact, this fusion of jazz and story are spelled out in fragments of text which flash and scroll by during the titles, which, assembled, more or less read as follows, and I've bolded the relevant bits:

    Once upon a time, in New York City in 1941... at this club open to all comers to play, night after night, at a club named "Minston's Play House" in Harlem, they play jazz sessions competing with each other. Young jazz men with a new sense are gathering. At last they created a new genre itself. They are sick and tired of the conventional fixed style jazz. They're eager to play jazz more freely as they wish then... in 2071 in the universe... The bounty hunters, who are gathering in the spaceship "BEBOP", will play freely without fear of risky things. They must create new dreams and films by breaking traditional styles. The work, which becomes a new genre itself, will be called... COWBOY BEBOP

    Where to Watch it

    Why it's significant

    Bebop didn't just break the mold for sci-fi shows, it made a whole new mold, fusing elements of spaghetti westerns, sci-fi, noir, and jazz (jazz music as the sound of a sci-fi show?!) with philosophy, complicated characters, deadly serious drama and absurd comedy. Oh and it beat Firefly to the punch by four years. Best of all, it demonstrates how much world building and character building you can do through visuals and action if you make the effort and let the characters stop talking and start being.

    I say all this and I'm not what I'd call an anime fan.

    Watch it for one of the snazziest, jazziest title sequences of all time, then stay for the story.


    TITLE SEQUENCE IN HD (seriously, CLICK HERE to embiggen)​
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  12. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

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    Gravity (1976)
    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0156579/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1


    Under 9 minutes long.

    Why it's significant - it's a terrific spoof of old 1950s educational films. If you have ever had to sit through one (and I have, several times), then the jokes do ring truer. But it's still enjoyable even if you don't have that basis.

    This entire short was done on the cheap, filmed in I believe just a home, a school, and outside on a hill. Easily the two most expensive parts were animating Jiminy Gravity and writing and performing his song. But other than that, it's super cheap.

    I saw it in I believe 1981, when there was a series of shorts shown at the Cambridge Brattle Theater (I'll see if I can find another one I remember, Pork Lips Now). Yes, I still remember this one from 37 years ago!

    Fun fact: the lead actress, Michelle Stacy (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0821094/?ref_=tt_cl_t1) stopped acting in 1980, but her last role was as the little girl in 1980's Airplane! She prefers her coffee black, like her men.

    And don't forget your helium balloons, kids!
     
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  13. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    How did I ever miss this before?!

    The uncut version of the scene but minus the "black" line for some odd reason.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
  14. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

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    I wonder if that was a version that made it onto network TV in some areas.
     
  15. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Well it DOES say NBC :)
     
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  16. jespah

    jespah Rear Admiral Moderator

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    /drinks more coffee/

    And so it does.
     
  17. ThankYouGeneR

    ThankYouGeneR Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    This thread is brilliant. For me, another film frontier: exploring short running punch packing films. Boldly taking me where I've never had the opportunity -or map- to go before!

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    You're welcome.
     
  19. ThankYouGeneR

    ThankYouGeneR Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    So I was at work today. I was doing some organizing of the library parts of the building. There's this ratty old box that's been sitting in the corner of the activity room for around three, maybe four, months. It was full of ratty ole VHS tapes that had been dropped off. I liken it to Shawshank Redemption and that first delivery of the somewhat ratty ole books nobody wanted anymore. And inside 'my' ratty old box that still had that last 8 or 9 VHS tapes that nobody wanted... if you can believe it what seems to be a well cared for copy of le Ballon Rouge!

    I haven't put in into my player yet to check it (yes, not only do i have dvd players I still have my tape player from, gosh 15 years ago) but judging from the case which is cherry condition with the wrapper skin still on it except for the bit so you can slide out the tape with a modicum of luck it 'might' be working okay.
     
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  20. Bixby

    Bixby Captain Captain

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    I saw Le Ballon rouge when I was eight and I loved it back then
     
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