A Friday The 13th Fanfilm Call To Arms

A recent comment on the latest web series article got me thinking about the public perception of fanfilms being the stuff of lame. There’s the obvious reason that most cannot fathom why a group of individuals would make a movie that based on properties they don’t even own. There’s something supremely backward sounding about that, no doubt. Only a select through companies can legally release a Friday the 13th movie but anyone can make a Friday the 13th movie and no can stop them. There’s something cool about that.

But the result of this freedom is more often than not, disappointing. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I’m not going to name and shame titles because frankly, the bad ones blend together anyway making them impossible to specifically recall. I know many fanfilms will struggle to not only be completed, but to gain any attention at all, even within the fanbase. But it does seem to be a fair system - there’s a direct correlation between effort put in and what is given back to the fanfilm-makers. Take Friday the 13th: The Storm for instance: when the full video was posted it garnered a whopping 45 comments. Friday the 13th: Mother’s Day based on the Eric Morse novel is another example of hard work up on screen. Fans will always take notice and pay respect to fanfilms when done right.

So obviously by reversing those factors, the reason many fanfilms are ignored or trashed upon is that they weren’t done right. It’s so easy for them to tank before they even begin shooting. You see, making a Star Wars fanfilm you’re forced to be creative as it’s sci-fi and requires some degree of fantastical elements, even if simply some costumes and some toy X-Wing fighters dangled from string. But strip down Friday the 13th to its most basic common element and what have you got? A man in the mask chasing people in the forest with a machete. So sadly that becomes the maximum of what many fanfilms aim for and thusly achieve. It has nothing to do with lack of money. I’ve always maintained the cheapest part of any indie movie is the script, the story. Think about it, it costs nothing but an imagination. From there, creativity can bring any of those wild ideas to screen.

Some of the most successful fanfilms have approached Friday the 13th with a high concept in mind. Timberwolf’s The Cold Heart of Crystal Lake stands out, as it took the forever fabled “Jason in the snow” idea and built a short around it. It also employed a secondary element of soldiers/the army to keep things interesting. It must have been damn cold making that, but the story required it.

Another factor is gore, or lack of it. Consider the biggest blow to the Friday series over its lifespan has been the MPAA’s removal (or watering down) of death sequences. You’d think once these Camcorder Cunninghams devise their own fanfilm, they’d really go for the jugular. But no, far too many feature absolutely boring kill scenes of your basic stabs in the stomach and back variety. Right there the director has already shot himself in the foot. Rhetorical memo: Spend less money on that really awesome replica hockey mask, and put it into some real makeup FX materials. Aim high, and even if the results aren’t perfect, shoot the shit out of it at different angles and you’ll have options to complete the illusion in the editing phase. You may fail but we want to see you at least try - not failing without bothering to try anyway. “We were just messing around” or “We’re not professionals” are the common comebacks of the fanfilm director to his critics. If it’s posted in public, an audience is being seeked, and that audience is going to want to be entertained even on a rudimentary level in return for the time they give in watching it.

I’ve been really impressed at fans’ own vs. films, no matter the budget. After Jason Goes To Hell, the official Freddy vs. Jason film project was languishing down there in hell too, so fans were taking matters into their own hands and putting their dream matches onto videotape. With watchable results. It goes back to the Star Wars rule - the director is forced to think creatively in composing a storyline that allows two or more villains from different universes to meet and have reason to battle. And we all know how hard it was on Hollywood’s screenwriters to achieve that. So I applaud these efforts especially.

Rules were made to be broken, but you still gotta learn ‘em first! Friday the 13th: The Storm‘s storyline breaks my rules for what constitutes a great fanfilm - for one there is no high concept in play, save for an opening scene of female gaysploitation that in itself already raises the bar (um, that is, the bar of fan films. Yes.). But after that? It’s a family fucking drama that Jason comes to crash. The Storm could even work without Jason and that’s how you know the story is strong. Such a welcome change from Jason chasing the director’s buddies and family members around the local picnic reserve while the camcorder sits stationary on the tripod. Another “rule breaker” are comedic takes on the material. The documentary His Name Was Jason gave fanfilms some legitimacy by featuring a few hilarious fan-made Friday the 13th spoofs and critiques as part of its extras. So that’s proof right there. If you can’t wow anyone by the usual hallmarks, make them laugh instead!

I eat fanfilms up and try to give them the benefit of the doubt every time I hit play or click a Youtube link. Lately when I like one I try to write about it to let everyone know. I’ve sat through a lot of dross in the fanfilm world and would guess some of you out there have too. So I believe some “tough love” is in order to improve the overall quality of these endevours. It’s an endless sea out there, so there are still plenty I haven’t seen and hope they’ll tip the scales for me on the matter. Do let me know what fanfilms you thought rocked so I can seek them out, or give a dismissed oldie a re-evaluation.



His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th (2-Disc Splatter Edition) (DVD)

Director: Sean S. Cunningham, Daniel Farrands
Starring: Tom Savini, Kane Hodder, Seth Green, Travis Van Winkle, James Roday
Rating: NR (Not Rated)

List Price: $19.97 USD
New From: $9.48 In Stock
Used from: $1.98 In Stock
Release date February 3, 2009.
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3 Responses to “ A Friday The 13th Fanfilm Call To Arms ”

  1. Jason: The Rebirth, was pretty good. It’s the animated one http://youtu.be/G94HQItH1Hc

    It’ not just a fat guy in an ebay mask and an army/navy store outfit chasing homeley lipstick-lesbians around. A lot of these fan made productions seem like a way for the film makers to get simi attractive girls to take off their tops. Good for them, but it is just kind of embarassing to watch.

  2. Prob is, getting attractive females in is what they have done in all films, so they go with that everytime, cause its normal
    Lesbos?? Something new there! hhmmmmmmm

  3. I am sure you will all be happy when I and a few friends of mine start filming our own “Friday”…we already decided to try and go above and beyond the run of the mill stab kills…you’ll see….

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