Christmas approaches, but you get your present early with a visit to The IndieNet and Beyond! More news and web series episodes, plus an interview with Christopher Allen, the director/writer of the fan films Star Trek Versus Batman and Quantum Leap: A Leap To Di For. They are not traditional web series (can you use the word traditional with web series?), but they are independently created and on the Internet for all to see.
Christopher Allen is an Indiana independent filmmaker who has been making films for years. He has made the more traditional format of feature films with A Certain Justice (2003) and A Time for the Heart (2009), but what got him noticed in LA was when he started making fan films that were put on the Internet. He started playing the fan film world in 2006 with Star Trek Versus Batman. The concept would seem unusual by itself, but even more so when you realize it is the 1960’s Star Trek versus the 1960’s Batman. Where did that idea come from?
“The spark that started it all was a life time of watching Star Trek reruns and Batman reruns on TV in the mid-late seventies and early eighties,” explained Allen. “I was a kid then and the only thing we really had to watch in those days [was Batman and Star Trek]. Before the blizzard of all the cable channels we have now…we only had three or four channels to choose from.”
Fast forward to adulthood: after finishing original films like A Certain Justice, Allen was pondering what to do next.
“I was in a period of flux in my film career back in 2005,” said Allen. “I thought to myself, if I’m going to do another movie I’m going to do something that reintroduces me to the reason why I got into films for the first place, which was to have fun. And what two things do I like to have fun with. Well, that is Star Trek and Batman!”
One night during a Batman marathon on TV Land, Allen looked over to his buddy who was a big Batman fan and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if Adam West tried to out-act William Shatner?”
And that was the genesis of what would become Star Trek Versus Batman. “I just went from that. It started as an idea that sat in the back of my head for a year until I got the guts to sit down and write it. And by golly we had a lot of fun.”
It is a story where Joker and Catwoman plot to take over the Enterprise to wreck havoc. Can Batman, Robin, Kirk and Spock stop them?
Allen went from Star Trek Versus Batman to his original film A Time for the Heart. But he would soon go back to the fan film realm by writing a tale set in the Quantum Leap setting.
“As soon I finished A Time for the Heart—it was the summer of 2007—I was thinking about what to do next…I started thinking, ‘No one has really done a Quantum Leap fan film.’ There have been other prior attempts, but nothing to the level of what the show and those production values brought to the series,” Allen explained further. “What I mean by that: the high definition, the better effects, the music… And I thought let’s take some of that production value that we had on Star Trek Versus Batman and apply that to Quantum Leap. That was my philosophy going into shooting Quantum Leap. And I love the show too. I grew up with that, loved it. I thought it had a great premise. I thought it died way too early, before its time. I felt this would be a good project to reinvigorate the fan base, to get fans excited about the series.”
The fan film continues the story of the series by having Sam Beckett (this time played by Joshua Ramsey) leaping into the body of a 26-year-old American man in a hotel room in Paris, France, on August 30, 1997, 24 hours before Princess Diana’s death.
There are so many possibilities for historical events to choose from for a new episode. Allen explained why he decided to use Princess Diana: “When I first sat down with it, I thought as a producer, what would a producer do to relaunch a series? What would he do to make it exciting? I started thinking about things throughout history in Sam Beckett’s lifetime and of course, as anyone remembers from 1997 the predominant tragedy of the year was the loss of the Princess of Wales. That was a big event. It affected me and affected anyone watching it on television. I just remember that dark void that was there, that I felt, that I’m sure everyone else did. I just thought, ‘well lets revisit that.’ It was something everyone could relate to.”
Allen managed to get a little star power in the production by having in the cast Deborah Pratt reprising her role as the voice of Ziggy and American Gladiator Beth Horn. Quantum Leap: A Leap To Di For got a Hollywood premiere at the Leap Back 2009 convention.
Fan films have been a boost in Christopher Allen’s fanbase, but he admits that fan films are no longer in his plans for the near future.
“At this point of my life I have really got to do projects that pay. I can’t keep justifying this to my wife and family. I will probably be going back to my original stories, instead of fan films. Fan films are great, don’t get me wrong. They are great way to keep the fan base energized, but it is not a very profitable endeavor.”
What is next for Christopher Allen?
“We’re developing a film on the events immediately proceeding the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This film will be set on the Airforce One aircraft from the flight from Dallas to Andrews Airforce base in 1963 right after Kennedy was shot. Where the policies and the decisions were made in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination. What the characters were doing. To me as the writer it is a fascinating look at what determines the next 20 years of American policy,” said Allen.
What does he think about web television?
“In five years I think [there will be] something of a YouTube or Google of all content out there. It will be just a fill-in the blank questioner…then boom the content is chosen for you,” suggests Allen.
What I’m Watching… Are You?
Asylum – Season 1: Episodes 3 & 4 “Jessica Cartwright”
The new web series Asylum continues. It’s a procedural, with elements of scifi and mystery.
Bite Me – Episode 4 – “Night Vision”
Three gamers, one zombie outbreak. This new zombie comedy web series that launched December 1st and has caught on quick with over 3 million views and counting. Warning, it is a little on the NSFW side.
Death Battle! – “Akuma VS Shang Tsung”
It’s sort of Deadliest Warrior, but with a much more scifi flavor to it. An all out battle to death between two or more characters from pop culture.
Hard Drive 13 – Episode 1: “Secrets”
A hacker, Nomad, uncovers the mother of all conspiracies.
The LXD – Season 2: Episode 9 & 10 “The Good, the Bad and the Ra”
It’s the season finale for season 2.
Mind’s Eye – Episode 4: “Shadow’s Hand”
Patrick and Koji fight fight their pursuers. Meanwhile, Illia struggles to play it cool.
Pioneer One – Episode 1
This indie scifi web series has caught my attention. When a object falls from the sky over North America spewing radiation, U.S. Homeland Security agents are sent to investigate. They discover a forgotten relic of the old Soviet space program that will have great implications for everyone.
Vampire Zombie Werewolf – Happy Hollywoodays
While we wait for new episodes, the VZM crew gives us holiday video unlike any other you’ve seen before.
Western X – Season 1: Episodes 1-3
The supernatural western web series Western X has premiered! There is an introduction combined with the first 3 episodes.
That’s A Wrap
Got a web series, web comic, web… whatever, then I want to know about it. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s a wrap for now. Take care friends. Until next time… marX out.
Marx H. Pyle is a writer, martial artist and American independent filmmaker. A graduate of Vancouver Film School, he has worked on a number of projects including the short film he wrote and directed, Silence of the Belle.