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   Book Review
   Homemade Hollywood:
   Fans Behind the Camera
   Author: Clive Young
   Publisher: Continuum Books
   Pages: 283 pgs.
   Topic: The history of fan filmmaking

   MSRP: $19.95

   Special Pricing:  Click Here
   Expected Release: October 1, 2008
   Review Date: September 1, 2008
   Reviewed By: Jeremy Hanke

Final Score:

When I was a kid, I read the original Oz books from L. Frank Baum. Most Americans think there was only one Oz book, The Wizard of Oz, due to the popularity of the first color movie by that name; but in reality, Baum wrote 12 Oz books. There were so many fans of his books that, when he died, the estate allowed certain hand-selected authors to continue the canon to 44 books. I was so impressed by the creativity in these books that, when I was 11 or 12, I began writing my own book. Set right after the conclusion of book 12, I only got 30 to 40 pages written out of my magnificent manuscript before ADD and other concerns from my youth pulled me away from fan fiction.

If I had focused more on my fanhood over the years, I might well have combined my filmmaking passions with my passion for the books and shows I loved. In doing so, I would have been much like the inspirational people found in Clive Young’s Homemade Hollywood: Fans Behind the Camera.

Mr. Young’s book is a historical narrative that follows the rise of fan films from the 1920’s to their climax in the 1990’s and today. While it might not be a how-to book like the ones we normally review, per se, it is an amazingly inspirational book for filmmakers to read. In fact, in my opinion, it ties for best inspirational read with Rebels on the Backlot, the book which chronicles the rise of Independent filmmakers who infiltrated Hollywood in the ‘90’s to create classics like Pulp Fiction, Being John Malkovich, The Matrix, American Beauty, and Fight Club.

Mr. Young focuses on people who are crazy enough to put their lives and reputations on the line to make illegal movies that they can never profit from and, depending on the mores of Hollywood, might not even be able to show in public. Most of these filmmakers are micro-budget filmmakers, but because they are using copywritten characters and concepts, they can never recoup any of their expenses, having to release all of their work on the internet for free to avoid legal repercussions. The most they can hope for is that, if their work is good enough, they will find their own fan following or they might attract the attention of someone who works at the companies that make their favorite franchises who might give them a job.

It takes serious passion to create films with these limitations, and Mr. Young takes you through their history with respect and admiration that is inspiring and encouraging to all low-budget filmmakers.

Mr. Young’s narrative structure is easy to understand and follow. He takes a fairly direct path from the origins of fan filmdom with “Andersons ‘Our Gang’” (a 1920’s fan film of Little Rascals) to the very convoluted branches and trunks of the modern internet-pollinated fan film culture of today, with some cutting back and forth through time to try and keep certain topics cohesive.

Depth of Information
As the owner and operator of the Mos Eisley Multiplex (a website that distributed information about online fan films to a huge number of fans) from 1998-2000, Clive Young has been immersed in the culture that creates fan films for a number of years. As such, he manages to really understand what films inspired other filmmakers and has been able to use some of his connections to get interviews with a lot of different influential fan filmmakers. There’s little Mr. Young leaves out on the subject of fan films in this book, covering everything from the origins of the movement, to fan based magazines, to people who’ve actually built scale replicas of sets (at enormous personal cost) for making their own films, to the divide between men and women in fan films, to contests that now harness the power of fan films for the franchises they are associated with.

Interest Level
Throughout this book, Mr. Young manages to pack it with so many interesting tidbits, that you can’t help wanting to keep reading. Every so often, the book will start to drag just a bit and, at that point, Mr. Young brings in another strange tale or a bizarre situation that pulls you right back in. (To get into the vernacular, he’s got his “tractor beam of intrigue firmly locked on” and you won’t be getting away any time soon! Or, better yet, “Resistance is futile. You WILL be assimilated.”)

The only place that this book is not rock-solid is in the last chapter, which is 24 pages in length which is, nearly 15 pages too long, in my opinion. In the last 15 or so pages, Mr. Young manages to take a very interesting tome about the fan-filmmaking culture and bog it down with far too much redundant commentary about the philosophy we can learn from fan filmmaking. Essentially, this drags the book from an inspiring history, to an overly wordy college thesis. As awesome as the overall book is, I would really like to see the padding cut out of the last chapter so that it ends with a bang, rather than a whimper. Such a change would encourage more readers to go out and try their hand at filmmaking when they complete the book, rather than just putting it aside. (While fan films are not a way to make money as a filmmaker, they are a marvelous way for new filmmakers to get started and learn the basics of filmmaking, before trying out totally original material.)

While you won’t read this every month, this is a book that’s definitely re-readable. Nothing makes a filmmaker feel less alone than reading about other filmmakers who’ve persevered in the face of hardship. Unlike most shorts made by the micro-budget community (which are very hard to locate online), you can watch nearly all of the shorts mentioned in this book online. That means that besides reading the book, you’ll want to definitely use it as a “TV Guide” of impressive fan films that can be watched for free. (Of course, some of the fan films that are mentioned are not available online. It would have been really wonderful if those could have been included on a DVD as a free extra with the book.)

Value vs. Cost
For $20, it’s hard to go wrong with a book that will inspire some filmmakers to start making films and encourage other filmmakers to keep going with their films. For the amount of information that’s packed in, $20 is a good value.

Overall Comment
Clive Young has done a great job of demystifying the world of fan films and showing the similarities we all have as low-budget filmmakers. This deserves to be a book that low-budget filmmakers keep on their bookshelf next to “Rebels on the Backlot.” Even if you don’t want to base your filmmaking career on fan films, you might just find that trying your hand at a fan film can be a great way to test out new filmmaking techniques or effects work, without the added stress of trying to do so on either a paying gig or on your own original work. (Plus, most filmmakers will find that they have a pre-installed fan base with fan films that is not present with original films, which can definitely get your name out in the online community.)

Depth of Information            
Interest Level            
           Value vs. Cost            
Overall Score           
JeremyHankePicture The director of two feature length films and half a dozen short films, Jeremy Hanke founded Microfilmmaker Magazine to help all no-budget filmmakers make better films. His first book on low-budget special effects techniques, GreenScreen Made Easy, (which he co-wrote with Michele Yamazaki) was released by MWP to very favorable reviews. He's curently working on the sci-fi film franchise, World of Depleted through Depleted: Day 419 and the feature film, Depleted.

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