Meet The Fan Editor Transforming Hollywood Greats

We meet "The Man Behind The Mask", one of the leading stars of the fan-edit phenomenon and creator The War Of The Star & Jaw: The Sharksploitation...
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We meet "The Man Behind The Mask", one of the leading stars of the fan-edit phenomenon and creator The War Of The Star & Jaw: The Sharksploitation...

We meet "The Man Behind The Mask", one of the leading stars of the fan-edit phenomenon and creator The War Of The Star & Jaw: The Sharksploitation. This article originally appeared on the website for the great film production company Supergoober

Audiences are changing. No longer passive viewers but active participants in the filmmaking process. Filmmakers are eager to appease the hard-core fans of established franchises, such as Star Wars, Alien or any comic book movie to date. One subculture of hardened film fans strives to change films to suit their individual needs. Faneditors, once considered a grimy subculture of geekdom, are now utilizing modern filmmaking tools (e.g., Aftereffects, Final Cut Pro) to change something old to something new.

I had the chance to converse with one of the rising stars in this movement known as The Man Behind The Mask to the world. This faneditor has created some of the most original incarnations of films we all know and love.

1. You stand out to us because you are not just making bad films good; you are making great films different. Is changing the tone of a film your trademark as a faneditor?

It depends on the project but yes. Usually I’m interested in making a movie as different as possible from the original. Because it’s fun to do and it is more interesting for the audience. I feel most of my work is more a “what if?” or “what could have been?” question I’m sending to the audience, rather than a “See, I can do better!” statement.

Twice I tried to make movies “better” – The Judas Breed (Mimic) and ALIEN-ATE (Alien Resurrection) – but even those works are kind of love letters to the original filmmakers, because I honestly can’t spend months working on a movie that I think is complete garbage to begin with. Or at least I never did it for now.

2. How did you get started fanediting?

By the time of VHS I played with footages from Indiana Jones and Aliens, and added music on them (kind of the little music montages we now find everywhere on YouTube). Then one day I made a 40 minute montage of underwater footage with added music on it.

Then, in 2007 I found the Fanedit.org site because I heard about The Phantom Edit (Star Wars Episode 1) and I really liked the spirit. So I started to work on some edits of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. The result was not very good so I did not release them on the site. But a little later I worked on my silent version of the whole Star Wars saga and I got good feedback about it.

I take fanedit as a challenge: can I reorganize Peter Jackson’s King Kong so it follows the pace, length and events of the 1933′s original?

3. What makes you want to change a film the way you do?

The first thing that you really need is to enjoy doing it. I mean, when you’re playing guitar you don’t always have a particular song you want to play, you just want to play guitar because it feels good. Learning creative tools opens doors to creativity, and when I start to understand what I can do or not, then ideas are coming. There are also lots of ideas that come to me during the making. Nothing is 100% planned long before, except the vague idea of what I want the edit to look like. To me fanediting is very organic. The edit is alive, it moves. You think you could do something, then you face the truth of what the actual footage really is, and you start thinking about another way to reach your goal. Or maybe that goal is not the right one- could it be something else? … Until you are proud enough of the overall movie. I like to be surprised during the making.

In general, I try to bring something from myself into an edit. Like when I made fanedits of Conan (1982) and Underworld (a mix of 3 & 1) with hard rock music as the score. Those look like 1h 30min music videos, so they are not for every audience. I made them “for me”. Other times I want to make entertaining edits for a larger audience, with surprises and twists. Those kinds of edits mostly work with very well known movies.

Other times I take fanedit as a challenge: can I make a fanedit of Once Upon a Time in the West in about one hour? Can I reorganize Peter Jackson’s King Kong so it follows the pace, length and events of the 1933′s original?

My next edit is a sequel to The War of the Star, my fanedit of Star Wars Episode 4. But in this sequel I need to take care of the changes I did in the first one (and there’re some major ones!). So it’s kind of becoming like my own alternate Star Wars universe. It’s all about fun.

The ultimate rule is: do not sell or buy a fanedit. Those who are selling some on e-bay should be stopped. This is a non-profit hobby.

4. It must take a lot of time and patience. How long does it take, what programs do you use. Talk Supergoober though the process.

Again it depends on the project. Most of my edits took like 3 months to make and I put a lot of my spare times in them. I think my Grindhouse edits took way longer, and the edit I’m working on right now will take even longer because I’m toying with special effects even more than in some other edits I’ve done. Special effects are fun to learn and do, but somehow I feel like I’m “cheating”.

I’m working with Premier Pro, After Effects (learning that program with videocopilot.net is a real pleasure. Andrew Kramer is an amazing teacher, check it out!). Then when the edit is done I render the final video with Cinema Craft Encoder via a frame server tool plug-in on Premier Pro. Note: I never did an HD edit, nor did I use 5.1 audio sounds. A lot of other faneditors are way more advanced than I am.

For now I feel that I enjoy the simplicity of making DVD quality fanedits. I work “fast” without much of a technical constraint.

5. What do you think of the copy write laws in place to stop people doing what you do?

Fanedits are in a grey area. I think that’s why I like my fanedits to be quite different from the originals. Cause when it becomes obvious that it’s not the same product (even though the source material is the same) then I hope the original filmmakers (and their lawyers…) look at that added value more with kind eyes rather than being upset.

And to say the truth, I don’t think anyone could have a real interest in watching a fanedit without having seen the original first. I often read people saying that they will go rent or buy an original film because they are interested in seeing a fanedit. So I don’t think the copyright owners loose a dollar because of fanedits, at all.

The ultimate rule is: do not sell or buy a fanedit. Those who are selling some on e-bay should be stopped. This is a non-profit hobby.

In the case of Star Wars it’s no wonder those movies are the most fanedited. They are the most known movies in the geek culture AND they are filmed in a very classic way; to the point that you can reorganize everything like a puzzle.

6. Internet censorship has been a big topic over the last couple of months. What are your thoughts on this big issue and would you regard fanediting as artistic expression/free speech?

I have mixed feeling about this. I’m all for free speech but I also think you need to face responsibilities when you go too far, and make billions on the back of the artists.

I can’t really talk about the SOPA/PIPA thing since I’m French and not fully informed about those particular laws (as I should be) but what I don’t like are actions that apply to everyone without respect. Shutting down a site in one night because “Hollywood” asked, for example. I’m not defending the Megaupload leaders here, but what about all the people who bought paying accounts to host their perfectly legal files? Some people worked with Megaupload for their job (I did) or personal website! And the next day, all is lost? Possibly hours of work, instantly lost without a warning? That is not a method.

7. “The War of the Stars” and “Jaw: The Sharksplotation” are some of the most original interpretations of Star Wars and Jaws we have ever seen. Why do you think they work so well as Grindhouse films?

Because they are already both old 70’s movies and masterpieces of their genre. The goal here was to make them look like if they never were those masterpieces, while keeping a high sense of entertainment for the audience who already knows them by heart.
In the case of Star Wars it’s no wonder those movies are the most fanedited. They are the most known movies in the geek culture AND they are filmed in a very classic way; to the point that you can reorganize everything like a puzzle.

One possibility, but probably just a wishful thinking, would be that a director loves a fanedit so much that he puts it as an extra on an official release

8. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg… Have they seen your Grindhouse versions of their work?

It would be awesome but I can’t tell. I know Lucas is very well aware of the fanediting community (I’m not sure whether he has ever really watched any of them), and even though he probably does not like us a lot, he lets us play with his toys. We have to give him credit for that (even though Lucas Film recently removed Jambe Davdar’s Star Wars documentary from YouTube. That was a very bad move from them, if you ask me.)

I know Spielberg tries to watch a movie a day when he can, so I hope he’s curious enough to take a look at some fanedits. Hey! Try my Jaws edit, Steven!

9. Distribution must be an issue with your films. How do you get your films to people outside the fanedit community?

First they are not my films. They are my fanedits of other people’s films! I don’t see how fanedits can be distributed without the agreement of the copyright owners.

I know that several little bars and places made some screenings of The War of the Stars but each time I knew about that I tried to send them a note about the fact that it should be a free screening.

One possibility, but probably just a wishful thinking, would be that a director loves a fanedit so much that he puts it as an extra on an official release. Lucas more or less did that on the Star Wars Bluray Box set, but it was not a fanedit. It was some short fan films so without real copyrighted source materials.

10. Ok, how do we get started on our own fanedits? What do we do first? Give us your sage advice.

You must learn the tools. Fanedit.org have a cool forum section about technical help. You can start right there.

Basically you need to get the elementary video file of the movie on your PC, with separate audio channels to get more audio editing opportunities. Then I convert the video into a lossless .AVI (lagarith codec . I get a single huge file (like 40G or more) that plays fine under premier pro.

The most important and difficult part is editing the audio. Having a bad picture cut in a movie is not good, but the audience can somehow tolerate it. However, you can’t have a real bad audio cut (unless it’s a joke or something like that) without your movie screaming – Alert! I am a fanedit made by an amateur! Sometimes you can’t avoid it, and it becomes a lesser of two evils question.

To keep up with all the latest work and news from The Man Behind The Mask, you can follow his blog at: http://tmbtm-fanedits.blogspot.com/

This article originally appeared on supergoober.co.uk

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