The following is a guest post from Robert Jenner.
When a studio wants to release a new blockbuster, often they start marketing it months, and sometimes as much as a year ahead of its predicted release date. For example, think of the hype for information on any of the new Star Wars movies from The Force Awakens to the new Solo movie, or even the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. From spoilers aplenty online to trailers, fans want to know all about the movie before it is released.
A fan film does not have the same luxury of having the time, or a large (or even any) marketing budget. Instead, they rely on word of mouth and hoping that a publication or website (like this one) of some sort will help spread the word for them, and then maybe, just maybe it will get some sort of viral success.
Just last week a film company from Nashville, TN called Lupin Productions released Shadows: An Overwatch film a new fan film based on the hugely successful video game Overwatch by Blizzard Entertainment.
For those of you that do not know anything about the game or have never played it, it is a team based online first-person shooter similar to Call of Duty or Halo. Players are grouped into teams of six players, and each player is assigned a role from attack, defense or support. The story of Overwatch is set sixty years in the future, after an attempt by a group of artificially intelligent robots to take over the world which was called the Omnic Crisis.
The United Nations formed Overwatch as an international task force, and they managed to defeat the robots and restore order. As with almost any governmental agency there was infighting and the task force was soon disbanded. The game itself is set several years after Overwatch was disbanded and new threats have risen, like a criminal organizations called Talon, and the odd remaining robot still bent on world domination. Players are a part of the newly reformed Overwatch who are once again attempting to restore world order.
Shadows: An Overwatch film takes this lore and background a little further than the game by telling more of the story of one of its biggest villains, the assassin Widowmaker, a playable character of French origin.
Wikipedia has a basic background for the Widowmaker and this is what this film basically follows but expands on. In a nutshell, the Widowmaker is a former Ballet Dancer who was married to a Overwatch agent. She was kidnapped and reprogrammed by Talon to kill her husband. There is a lot more to that of course including an explanation for why the Widowmaker is her iconic blue color, but I will let you check that out for yourself.
At just over twenty eight minutes long, Shadows is not as long as a regular feature film, however, it has a interesting storyline, and packs a lot of action into its run time. The film was written and directed by Grayson Peters, and is the second Overwatch fan film the he has directed for Lupin Productions, the first being Heroes Never Die which has over one million views since its release in May of 2017.
There are elements of this film I found very well done and of course there are some faults. Fan films often fall short when it comes to a well choreographed fight or action sequence. This is usually because they don't have the time, or a dedicated place to practice, and or the money to hire someone to teach them the right moves, or make it look believable. Shadows steps up with all of its fight and action scenes and really has put in a lot of time, money, and effort to make them realistic and believable.
The camera work, sets, props, and costumes are all very well done as well, again money well spent. There is one scene, however, where there is a Waste Management dumpster in the background that I don’t think would have been there in the Overwatch timeline and seeing it there disrupted suspension of disbelief just a little
If you are not an Overwatch fan going into this film you might struggle to follow what's happening. The film jumps right into the story with little to no character development except some scenes with the Widowmaker (again check out the Wikipedia site for a full explanation). This is probably a symptom of limited run time and budget. What makes things a little more difficult is that the film is in both English and French because of the Widowmaker's background.
This is helped some by the use of clear subtitles, however, the back and forth between languages, often within the same scene, can be confusing. Some of the inflections and nuances are lost in translation.
Overall, this is one of the better fan films I have seen released this year. It's clear the team behind it invested a lot of time, effort and money in their production. There is no doubt that this film will reach over a million views just like their first one. Check it out, it has Fan Film Boy Rob’s thumbs up!
Robert is one of the hosts on Fan Film Boyz Podcast, a Podcast that discusses, reviews and helps promote fan films! For in-depth discussion and interviews with directors, writers, actors, and actresses, keep your eyes peeled for future columns and check out their show.