The Fan-Made Phenomena

It’s no big secret or anything, but The Hunger Games fandom is kind of into take our favorite trilogy by the proverbial, throat or balls, and making it our own. We love making manips in our fancy, or not so fancy computer software, we like making memes, and daaaamn do we like our fan-made film adaptations, and our original content based shorts and full length films (yes, they do exist!).

Suzanne Collins’ work was published in a sort of golden age of Audience Participation, ’cause come a decade or more ago the trilogy would have had to suffice with fan-fiction, and maybe some wearable fan-art sold at Comic-Cons, or on Cafepress, that’s if Cafepress existed a decade or more ago– and I’m making an educated guess here, ’cause I don’t think that it did. Did it? Tell me if it did Internet-y people!

In our little corner of the Interwebz though, I think the fan-made phenomena that’s the most intriguing, and also sometimes the most disappointing are the many, many, MANY fan-made films. It’s hit or miss with the multitude of Youtube, and Vimeo postings of such fare, I’ll be the bold one though, and call it like I see it, a crap-shoot. Because, as much effort goes into all these projects, only a small collection of them are up to snuff. And when I say “up to snuff”, I mean if they had had a little bit more of a budget for things like scoring with quality, and original music, or better fight choreography, they’d be hard to pick out of a line up of What’s Fan-Made and What’s a Major Studio Project.

I did my research, yerp— I watched a whole lot of Youtube Hunger Games themed videos. From projects made by a group of bored sounding, and looking Australian teens, to a painful depiction of Finnick Odair doing his “I drag myself out of nightmares each morning and find there’s no relief in waking.” Speech, where it was delivered with such amateur earnestness that I dare anyone to not look away, because it’s just that bad, car-crash bad. But then there’s the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel full of blood thirsty Undead! John Lyde’s videos are of course counted on the list of quality Hunger Games fan-vids, and then there’s the 2011 The Hunger Games- Johanna Mason short by Wellwood Productions, which I

Yay fan-art!

Yay fan-art!

can say without qualms has one of the most heartbreaking Johanna performances put to film. Honest– watch it, watch it til the end (it’s only 9 minutes long), there’s a moment that turns on a dime– and if you don’t feel all the feelings, something may be wrong with you. I don’t know how it slipped my notice for so long, but it did, because I can’t spend my life swaddled in sweats, watching Hunger Games fan-videos– but there’s this fan-fiction, feature length film called Cirrus Quell — A Hunger Games Story, that’s been up on Youtube since November, 2012. This film is quality stuff, the performances are believable, the fight choreography is good, the writing is good, and the camera work is more than good, yes with the right amount of shaky-cam that Gary Ross was unable to attain even with that huge budget footed by that major motion picture studio.

I’ve noticed something about these top-tier, fan-made Hunger Games videos over the years, blood– they really like the stuff. It’s a repeated complaint I’ve had with the big-studio made Hunger Games films, a sheer lack of that red sticky stuff that keeps all of us alive. We don’t see a lot of it in either Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games, or Francis Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and I’ll bet you a big basket of kittens that both Mockingjay: Part 1, and Part 2 will be lacking in the stuff as well, which is odd considering that the entire series is focused on life and death, and also features a whole lot of the latter– some of them bloody as hell too. Like for instance Cato’s in The Hunger Games; in the novel, as we we all should remember, he was ripped apart by Capitol engineered Wolf Muttations as Katniss watched, and then she listened for hours as he groaned, and cried as he slowly, and painfully bled out, that is until she killed him by shooting him with an arrow. in the film however, Katniss watched for seconds as a pack of Dog Muttations swarmed him, and then she quickly took pity on him, shooting him through the skull– a swift mercy kill. It’s all to get around the MPAA, who seem hell bent on showing the world every actresses breasts, but never an actors penis– because, I don’t know– they’re scared of them?

It’s true that there’s not a lot of Mockingjay anything news like coming out right now, you’d have to be seriously out of the loop if you’re not aware of that fact by now as well. So, when there’s the news that a fan-made Mockingjay themed film being made with its eye towards quality, and the other thing that all top-tier Hunger Games fan-made films has in spades– it’s this wonderful thing called grit. I say “hell yeah, bring it on!” Only one problem, to adhere to this particular group of filmmakers desire, and frankly their need to put out quality work– they need our help, the fandom that is, not solely Victor’s Village. You guessed it by now hopefully, ’cause they’re doing the crowd-sourcing thing. They’re shooting for the stars on this one people, and hoping to rent a top of the line motion picture camera, the same model used by Peter Jackson’s crew on The Hobbit films. I’m no stranger to crowd-sourcing films, I’m a Veronica Mars fan– and I put in my hard earned twenty bucks to help the Veronica Mars film get made. And then I shelled out another to see it in theatres, and another to get the digital download. And also, because I’m a forever Veronica Mars fan, I support that cast of the series’ other projects, so I put in twenty to help Chris Lowell’s (Piz) film make it to theatres all over the US and probably Canada. I like supporting projects that I’m confident won’t disappoint me, like Veronica Mars, and Beside Still Waters. And I’m going to be bold again, I don’t think the Hunger Games fandom has ever been witness to the prospect, or the beginnings of a fan-made film project of the magnitude of quality this project is aiming for.

The objective, and feeling of the film is kind of right up almost every Hunger Games fans alley. I’ve had a little time to chat to the woman set to portray Katniss in this film-short, she’s also one of the brain-trusts behind the project– (über fan status is her’s in spades, someone should get her a crown or something), and she’s said some intriguing things that I’m very much on board with. Things like her and the director’s desire to focus on the affects of war on an individual and a society, and the want to depict that in a realistic, and thoughtful way– a way that hasn’t shown its self in the studio films as of yet, or at least not in the full on way that many fans have been hankering for. They don’t have the MPAA to deal with, just Youtube viewers tattling on them for using swear words, which they probably won’t use anyway, but I wish they would. There’s a reason the saying is “swearing like a sailor” sailors go to war!

So, take a chance, if you think about it donating to this project out of most others is less than the price of a premium cup of coffee at Starbucks. Also, anything Mockingjay related is a welcome reprieve from the lull of all lulls we’ve been under for the last several months.

Them There Eyes

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