'Archetype' runs with fan video momentum
February 2nd, 2012
07:25 PM ET

'Archetype' runs with fan video momentum

As the phenomenon of fanfiction – fan-written stories based on existing sci-fi/fantasy/horror franchises – became an Internet mainstay, videos of beloved franchises became a natural extension of fan expression.

Massively fan-supported franchises like "Star Wars," "Harry Potter" and "Star Trek" inspire unique video tributes.

"New Voyages: Phase II," for example, got the attention of original "Star Trek" series actors George Takei and Walter Koenig, who reprised their roles as Sulu and Chekov for the fan video.

Comic books and anime also get the fan video treatment. The fan who created the recent "Voltron" short, did so in part to show that he could possibly direct a feature film.

And that seems to be an inspiring concept. Fan conventions like Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia, are increasingly including panels on how to create science fiction and fantasy content, from books to online comics to films.

Aaron Sims, a concept artist,  has taken this notion to heart and created a film based on his own science fiction idea.

"I see (film making) as something even non-professionals will do," Sims said, citing the progress of digital technology and how some visual effects houses are bypassing traditional film making hierarchies by creating their own films. He thinks if you have passion, patience and technology, you can bring to life any science fiction concept.

Sims' film, "Archetype," is about a robot who becomes self-aware. He hopes someone will see his video and decide to fund a feature film based on his original characters.

CNN Geek Out spoke with Sims, to find out more about his movie and the fan-made trend:

CNN Geek Out: This video has been up just under two weeks. What kind of reaction has there been to it?

Sims: It's been pretty amazing, it's gotten over 300,000 hits on YouTube. Everyone has been raving about it. It's doing a lot better than I've anticipated with almost no promotion whatsoever.

CNN Geek Out: Where did the concept come from?

Sims: My background is makeup effects and visual effects. I've been a big sci-fi fan since I was a child, so this was a project that I was really inspired by from all the movies I grew up enjoying, like "Star Wars."

I had this feature film concept, but I wanted to test the waters with this idea of a robot, who thinks he's human. This sort of idea has been done before, like with "WALL-E," and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," which I worked on. I wanted to create a story around that.

It's about a robot who is made for one thing, but somehow he thinks he is human and has a family. He is going to be decommissioned, so instead he breaks free. That's basically the short, but the feature is more complex.

CNN Geek Out: So you wanted to show what the movie could be?

Sims: I pitched it to a lot of my colleagues in the industry, and got a lot of them on board for pretty much nothing.

Almost everyone who helped on this was doing it as a favor. They felt like this was something worthwhile and wanted to see what would come of it.

We started a year ago, and finally completed it. I posted a trailer last summer, and started getting calls from studios and agencies.

Hopefully, if the public's into it, the studio will be into it. It's very difficult to get a studio to do original content, but if there's an audience for it, that makes it easier.

CNN Geek Out: Is this a relatively new approach?

Sims: There are a lot of first-time feature directors who have done this way, putting out a short before the feature. "District 9" was done that way. Peter Jackson picked it up and it went on its way.

I decided to take the risk to see if it can build an audience. I wanted to use it as a calling card (as well).

CNN Geek Out: Was this relatively cheap compared to big budget sci-fi movies?

Sims: The budget was pretty much nothing. The actors got a base rate. A lot of it was designed well before, so it was pre-planned. The robot was completely visual effects.

David Anders ("Heroes," "Vampire Diaries," "Alias") was there on set performing. He played the robot and the animators used him as a reference - his gestures would come across in the animation.

CNN Geek Out: Is sci-fi your preferred genre?

Sims: It has always been my favorite. Sci-fi allows filmmakers and audiences to escape reality, to go to a place outside their everyday life.

With "Avatar," you had a fan base situation where the audience wanted to see it over and over again. They wanted to escape reality.

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Filed under: Fandom • Squee!
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Rashanday Meinertn

    I do agree with all the ideas you have presented in your post. They are very convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are very short for beginners. Could you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

    August 1, 2012 at 1:56 am |
  2. Henry Hanks

    A quick update: This short film has now been picked up by 20th Century Fox for development as a feature film.

    February 29, 2012 at 8:08 pm |