Fans create their own trailer for 'John Carter'
February 27th, 2012
04:45 PM ET

Fans create their own trailer for 'John Carter'

Fanmade trailers are certainly nothing new on Youtube and elsewhere online. And yet, Michael Sellers' and Mark Linthicum's home-grown trailer for the upcoming "John Carter" movie is one that has gone viral, with well over 100,000 page views. Viewers comment that Sellers and Linthicum's edit should be used instead of the official trailer.

Even the official "John Carter" director took notice of the video.

Sellers, a Burbank, California, resident who discovered "John Carter" at age 11, and runs the fansite The John Carter Files – all about the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, and especially the upcoming March 9 release of the film adaptation – spoke with CNN Geek Out about what makes fans want to improve on official trailers in such a way.

CNN Geek Out: What did you hope to accomplish with this video?

Sellers: It started out as a form of DIY therapy - we had been watching the Super Bowl in excited anticipation of seeing the "John Carter" TV spot. We were disappointed by the spot that played in the game and kind of a had a slightly boozy, post-Super Bowl moment of inspiration in which we said, basically: "Come on, we can do better than that!"

So we downloaded all the spots and trailers that were available online and cut a new one from all the old clips. When we started cutting it we were just doing it for fun but by the time we were done we knew it played well and might help if anyone saw it. At that point we started thinking, you know, if we could just get this out there and people could see it - who knows, it might have a positive effect?

We realized the most likely outcome is that it would just be seen by a very few people so we didn't have major delusions - but we thought, every little bit helps, every person who decides to see the movie and likes it and talks about it adds to the possibility that it's a success.

So we uploaded it to YouTube and hoped that people would start seeing it and start talking about it. Nothing much happened for a couple of weeks until the film's director Andrew Stanton ["WALL-E"] tweeted about it and said: "Great fan trailer! They get it!"

It took another day before it gathered much momentum - but now for the last two days it's been getting a lot of attention. Now that it's out there and being seen we hope it converts some skeptics.

CNN Geek Out: Were you influenced by other fan trailers? Are you excited to see the movie?

Sellers: We were influenced almost entirely by the books and our knowledge of the story that was lurking inside the trailers and TV spots that we were seeing and I suppose, secondarily, a lifetime of other trailers that we'd seen and been affected by.

It's beyond being excited - it's actually very emotional. Like a lot of people who were so affected by Edgar Rice Burroughs, I've been carrying this movie around in my head for decades. The story is so visual and cinematic that you can't help, from the first time you read it, think - what an incredible movie this would make if they could just match Burroughs' imagination. The problem was, for all these years the technology was just not able to credibly depict what Burroughs had written. Now the technology has finally caught up to Burroughs' vision – and we're going to see it. If I just stop for a moment and imagine being in the theater when this movie starts  ... I get teary eyed at the feeling of "deliverance" that I know I'm going to feel.

CNN Geek Out: Do you think the movie might be missing something?

Sellers: If I were to base my expectation purely upon what I was seeing in the trailers, yes, I would be very concerned that something was missing because it was feeling kind of hollow - all spectacle, not much substance. But I know the story that it's based on - and I know that the director is Andrew Stanton and he's the guy that made a movie Wall-E and Finding Nemo so I know that we have a masterful storyteller working with material from another master storyteller. So no I'm not worried that it's missing something. All my worries have to do with the business side of this - will it get enough audience opening weekend so that positive word of mouth can carry it? Will we get sequels? I worry about all that, but not about the film itself – it will deliver.

CNN Geek Out: What do you think studios can do better in general in adapting genre, promoting genre releases? Why create a fan trailer?

Sellers: We've reached a point with CGI and VFX that audience aren't wowed by them any more and that's a good thing. These are tools that need to be employed in the service of a great story, which usually starts with great characters. The audience - all humans, really - have a deeply felt ability to connect with a great story and the studios can't lose sight of that. It's all about story and the trailers need to convey the scope of the production value without becoming a slave to it. They need to make us care about the people or the characters - if they do, then the spectacle, the action, the special effects - all of that works. If they don't make us care about the characters, then none of that works.

In thinking about it, it seems to me like the notion of two guys sitting on the couch watching the Super Bowl, being disappointed by the multi-million dollar trailer for their favorite movie and saying hell, let's fix that - and having the tools to do it and the means to get it 'out there' - that's a story which, even if you were the guys in the middle of it, is thought provoking. It makes you think about the implications when - as one blogger put it–"random Youtube guy" with Windows Moviemaker or Final Cut Pro and a few hours to spare is able to do something that 10 or 15 years ago would have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment and software–it's just astonishing and empowering. And to then be able to put it out there and have a chance for it to be seen and have an impact - I think we're very lucky to be living in a moment where that's possible.

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Filed under: Fandom • Squee!
soundoff (32 Responses)
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    July 11, 2012 at 8:30 am |
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  5. belladonna

    I first read Princess of Mars back in high school in the 70's – John Carter was always one of my literary heroes. I've been leery of seeing the movie, but after seeing the fan trailer, I might just have to give a go.

    On a side note, I used to have a boss named John Carter – a short, elderly, balding African-American, who was also a ERB fan. I had 'waaaay too much fun razzing him, and no one else at work ever understood why he called me Dejah Thoris!

    February 29, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  6. Ike

    John Carter of Mars wasn't great literature, being a pulp sci-fi fantasy series, but ERB did it very well and had good story lines with a lot of action and good strong characters and a bit of humor. If the feel is kept intact it should make for a good movie.

    February 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  7. Lubiana

    I read these books when I was a teenager, and I'm surprised to see a movie. I'm curious now.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  8. LostinSLC

    I had no interest in this movie but after watching that trailer I was amazed. I think I will be heading to the movies afterall

    February 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  9. Really?

    Cant wait to see it! Read the series when I was a kid and became a fan for life. Even if it isnt well recieved I will still be standing in line to watch it anyway.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  10. James T Birk

    I'm glad i read about this. I never read the novels or knew anything of this story. To me, the commercials I had seen so far did not look very good. I'll watch the fan trailer, and potentially give this more of a chance when it comes out.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  11. Scott Dutton

    Way to go, Michael. Nice work. It is helping.

    Don't know much about John Carter (of Mars)? You can read the first novel – A Princess of Mars – as a free ePUB ebook (first published in 1912, it is now in the public domain). Find out why Edgar Rice Burroughs' fans are so passionate about the character and why we want the movie to succeed.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  12. Derek

    I first read the John Carter Warlord of Mars books in high school in the 1980s. Considering how fantastic the world of Barsoom is by ERB, I never thought they would be able to make a movie about it unless it was an animated film. Now CGI technology has reached the level that can create good effects but it remains to be seen if they can create a good movie. The books are great but might not appeal to a younger generation. The movie has to appeal to both John Carter fans & also younger people who probably never heard of John Carter or ERB. It's a tall order but I remain optimistic.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  13. Susan See

    Do I understand that they took work already created by others and put it together? I mean, isn't that stealing? If it was original it would be great, but it appears they just reassembled other's work. Not okay.

    February 29, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • Mark

      They're not taking pre-existing material and using it to profit. They're simply re-mixing trailers that are already out to promote the same movie. They're essentially giving the movie and studio free advertising. God, people like you are so annoying.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Ramone

      Wow Susan, you really don't get it. Google "fan trailers" and you'll find an entire pastime of hobbist editors who love movies but want to play with footage and mix up their own versions of trailers. It's not "stealing" because they're not 1.) saying it's their material and 2.) trying to make money from it (I'm not even sure how they would do that) or 3.) Taking something without paying for it (trailer footage is available all over the internet). As for your not okay" comment, the article actually states that Andrew Stanton, the film's director, not only like the trailer, but praised the editors. Judging by the reaction they've been getting on the web and from Stanton himself, sounds like it's more than "okay".

      February 29, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  14. Wastrel

    As in Robert E. Howard's Conan stories, all the women on Burrough's Barsoom were nude or nearly so, and Hollywood is once again revising a classic. Regardless of the rest of the story, this one thing should be true to the books. I would like to... uh .. see it.

    February 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  15. SixDegrees

    I have to admit, the official trailers for this film have left me lukewarm, even though I really wanted to like the movie. The fan trailer is 100 times better, and makes me want to see the film right now! Outstanding work on the editing, and I hope the film lives up to the promise.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • jheron

      They did a fantastic job with the trailer and the movie has only been getting great praise by those that have seen it.

      February 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  16. justuandme

    I tried postingfour comments - nothing vulgar or inappropriate and all got flagged? I can't post what I want to say because its being flagged for some reason. Movie-bad! lets see if this will be flagged.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  17. KAS

    The trailers look horrible and from what I've seen, bear no relation to the books except that the story takes place on Mars, there are two different types of martian and there's a princess involved. Aside from that, it's another botched movie based on a book/comic book.

    I have no intention of seeing this movie and unless it comes out on television (which it will within the next year), I don't intend on seeing it at all. Sellers is right when he says, all spectacle, not much substance.

    It looks and probably is as bad as all the Transformer movies. Utter aardvark feces.

    February 28, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • pj_campbell

      It's not all special effects with no substance. I promise you that. I've seen the movie twice already and it's one of, it not the best, movie I've seen in years. It's just really, really well done. Stanton makes some changes to the book, sure, but it's the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel we've all grown up on and love. The closest I can compare it to, for me, was like watching Star Wars for the very first time. It really is that good.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:43 am |
      • KAS

        Sorry pj. But when I see the abominable snowman pop up from the dirt, that's all I need to know. I don't remember any such creature being in any of the books.

        What about Synthetic Men of Mars? Did that appear anywhere in the movie? What about the fact that there are no stairs in Mars houses, only ramps. Did they keep that?

        This is what I'm talking about. LoTR kept fairly true to the books, Jackson only making modifications where necessary to fill in the blanks (aside from the surfing elf). From these trailers, as I stated previously, other than taking place on Mars, having two different Martians and a princess, there is zero resemblance to the books.

        Just like Tron 2, this movie will dead and gone within 6 weeks. Maybe 4 if we're lucky.

        February 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
      • Rick DeBay

        The "abominable snowman" is when John Carter, the other red martian, and others are forced to fight in the pit against beasts before being pitted against each other. Much of the fighting against beasts was glossed over in the book, except for lightly armed green martians being slaughtered by the beasts.

        February 29, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
      • jheron

        Thanks PJ. Again, I have only heard good things from people that have actually seen it. I am taking my son to watch it. Looks like so much fun with a lot of attention paid to building up Mars history within the story.

        February 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Ike

      It would think it would be hard to critique a movie based on the trailers and most of ERB Mars work is very conceptual, so being exact might be hard to do, even with CGI involved. There is a fine line between using too much CGI to capture the story at the expense of looking fake. The Lord of the Rings was different in that it was fantasy, but even the elves and hobbits were based off of real people. The only up close CGI character was Golem and was very well done, without being distracting.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  18. vel

    I'm just glad that someone made a John Carter movie, and I lived to see it. And it has a great Woola!

    February 28, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • justuandme


      February 28, 2012 at 10:12 am |
      • justuandme

        no wonder there are so little comments. All the negatives about the movie are being flagged.

        February 28, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  19. effessartible

    Ремонт ноутбука и компьютера в Люберцах
    ремонт компьютера выхино

    February 28, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • Hap Hazzard

      Easy for you to say....

      February 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm |