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May 02 2005

Could fan-made movies be the future? Article at Slate speculates on the success of the new fan-made Star Wars film and doubts the same could ever be true for Buffy.

The article cites as the reason why fan-made Buffy movies are impossible something that I also find a detrimental mindset to the future of the WhedonVerse as a franchise. Ever since SMG walked away from the Buffy character of her own volition, I've been trying to encourage fans of the series to LET HER GO. However, there's still many out there who refuse to believe we could have any kind of Buffy-oriented tv series unless Gellar herself comes back to play the role. And let's face it, the woman ain't coming back. In fact, at this point we're pretty much looking at recasting the entire show, and starting from scratch. So yeah, this Slate guy is right. A fan-made Buffy film is pretty much out of the question, because by the time any serious Buffy fans actually sat down to make a Buffy-inspired fan project on film, the end result wouldn't look anything like Buffy.

I wish Buffy fans in Cleveland would put together their resources and do a twenty minute half-serious "pilot episode" that showed a handful of interesting characters in present day (a few years after the end of BtVS) discovering on their own that there's a second hellmouth in Cleveland, and how do they react to it. You wouldn't have to have a slayer. You wouldn't have to have a watcher. Maybe there's been people in Cleveland who have known about the Hellmouth for years, but couldn't do anything about it. Maybe have a character who learned about the hellmouth ten years ago, ran away, had some kind of eureka moment while away, and came back to his/her home town with a deadly earnest to shut down the Hellmouth even if it cost lives.

Fan fiction all over the 'net has potential insight into fan-based sequels, but in many cases the resources aren't there to convert the written page to even a tiny screen. Any effort in this area would have to be a labor of love. There's no legal way to make money off it. So people who do have such resources would most probably opt to create a project that wouldn't risk copyright infringement, so the end result would be marketable.

How Star Wars fans do it is beyond me. Frankly I'm surprised George Lucas hasn't turned on them and thrown gobs of lawyers their way. However, have any of you seen George Lucas In Love? Now that was inspired and heartwarming. After seeing that, I doubt Lucas woulda had the heart to sue anybody.
I don't agree with the 'Buffy relied on Sarah for its popularity' part, but it was a decent read otherwise.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2005-05-02 18:26 ]
I agree with zeitgeist. Money quote: "All fan-created movies still face two big stumbling blocks: scriptwriting and acting."

I'd emphasize scriptwriting. A great story, with teriffic actors, but badly written, will simply flop.

Off topic, a friend saw "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" this weekend...and was delighted to see the "Serenity" trailer on the big screen--he said it was dazzling, brilliant, tremendous.
As I've said before there are a couple of fan made Star Trek series on the Internet. There's nothing to stop fans from making their own episodes set in the wider universe of the Buffyverse.
If Joss had a BUFFY story he really wanted to tell, either on the big screen or small I would be open to seeing someone other than SMG in the part. I trust Joss' judgment. If he thinks he's found another actress who's right for the part of Buffy then I'm willing to give her a chance. Am I in the minority or the majority?

I also think Cleveland is the place to start concerning new 'Verse stories. With or without Buffy.
Zeitgeist, you wouldn't believe the number of Buffy fans who refuse to see anyone else in that role. If SMG isn't involved in a Buffy project in a future, a lot of people are gonna write it off and not give it a chance. I find that very disappointing, but it's also a very real fact.

The Cleveland Hellmouth story is one that I want to see told. I know I'm not alone in that, but we're not gonna be able to wait for Whedon to decide to do it, cuz he's moved on. That territory is open and ripe for fan-based projects. It shouldn't involve any of the established canon characters, but with the right chemistry of talented fans in the areas of writing and acting, I think there's a lot of potential there.
The problem is, with Star Wars you throw in some lightsabres and Stormtrooper gear, or some "darth-like" makeup and you instantly understand and accept what you are seeing.

In Buffy it's not quite the same. They tried it with Xena and the few fan films are pretty bad (though there is one woman out there who is a heck of a Xena/Lucy Lawless impersonator).

Still, now that there are bunches of slayers out there, lots of possibilities. I wanna see someone get the vampire dusting down on adobe after-effects and then I will start believing its possible.

The other part is that Lucas solely owns ALL of the Star Wars verse and accepts/permits all fan based creative efforts as long as they are 100% non-profit and non-commercial. Regardless of what Joss accepts, if UPN/WB/FOX has any copyright ownership, they tend to C&D and sue everyone, regardless of profit intent.

[ edited by TaraLivesOn on 2005-05-02 19:37 ]
Yyyeah. No.

No other actress can be Buffy.

Make new stories! New people! New situations! Most importantly, new actors. And if any Buffyverse actor wanted to reprise a role from time to time, mores the better.

Trying to recast SMG's Buffy would be a huge mistake. And I'm one of those that would find it unacceptable. Recasting never works. They never do it right.
I don't agree with the 'Buffy relied on Sarah for its popularity' part, but it was a decent read otherwise.

It doesn't say Buffy relied on Sarah for its popularity. The point they were making is shows that center around one particular character with a strong connection to a specific actor are difficult to replicate. I think the author is correct in that assessment.

Generally, when I say I want a continuation of the Buffyverse, I'm not talking about Buffy at all. I'm talking about the universe Joss created, in which Buffy was the first to be encapsulated, but neither the character of Buffy nor SMG are necessary at all for the verse to continue. There's lots of potential out there for all sorts of stories.
I have nothing against any new stories set in the 'verse with all new characters (except that I'd really rather have at least one character we know), but I am against the recasting of anyone, especially the main character of the show, it's only been a few years, it's far too early to give up on an actress (who has said she would do it if the story was right) and recast. If they decided to do a new series in 20 years or so, then I'd accept a new actress in the role, but as it is, Sarah Michelle Gellar is Buffy, and all the other actors are the only people to play those characters.

Recasting the whole show as zachsMind suggested, would just be wrong, and it would be very difficult for me to watch it, what would be the point, when the end of the series set it up to make it so easy to do another show about another slayer, to risk alienating fans by having the same characters but different actors, it would be an insult.

[ edited by Ghost Spike on 2005-05-02 19:50 ]
ZM, I'd tend to agree with you in thinking that the way to go in the future is by telling new and interesting stories with new actors within the existing framework of the Buffyverse.

It is quite fascinating how much of the discussion surrounding any 'new' shows is all about the characters and very little about the stories to be told, maybe its easier or maybe its human nature but we like our favorite characters and 'ships' and for many thats what they mean when they want a continuation of the Buffyverse, a little bit of flexibility would make things so much easier.

I'd hate to see anyone else as Buffy herself, but I see no reason for Buffy or for that matter Spike, Faith or Angel to appear in future slayer tales, there could easily be a XX the Vampire Slayer in Cleveland as you say, as long as the stories are interesting the fans should be able to find new favorites to make their own.

I do believe it is easy to underestimate the efforts involved in doing shows of the calibre we have come to expect from ME, just watch what happened to Point Pleasant, I am not sure that most fans would be very happy with a fan made show with amateur actors and writing, but maybe it could be something for those that really need their Buffyverse fix any way they can.

Maybe they way to go is as some have suggested to go with Fray moving the timeline and let all the previously existing characters disappear and start afresh.

Oh and yes, recasting is a bad bad idea.
I'm jumping on the "no recasting roles" bandwagon. I just don't see the point. Sarah, for better or for worse, is now the only actress who i can ever picture playing Buffy and quite honestly the slayerverse is more than big enough to go on even if Sarah never chose to return to the role.

If Sarah chooses to do a Buffy movie some day then great. If not then so be it. That i could live with either way. What i don't want to see is some other actress attempting to fill the shoes of such an established role.

Just concentrate on new areas of the 'verse from now on. There is plenty more to be seen, i would imagine.
ZM, killinj -- I guess I said it badly. What I meant was that there is no reason not to explore the wider Buffyverse in fan made programs/fic. Thats where I was going with it, but I was, unfortunately, on my way out the door at that moment. The Star Wars fan film appears to be about the wider universe to a large extent, though I haven't watched it so can't say for sure. I do know that the Trek projects that I've seen by fans were not about existing characters. The author is correct in that a lot of people will freak out if Buffy is re-cast. Where the author is wrong is that they seem to dismiss wider 'verse stories because of Sarah's strong association with one character in the universe.
The Cleveland Hellmouth story is one that I want to see told.


Not only would I love to see it told, but I would love to be involved in it. Heck, I may write up some stuff on it.
I can see a "Buffy TNG" show as being far more likely for several reasons.
With characters who've been around for seven years we know everything about them, and that limits what new things the writers can do without changing the established history. The revelation in Normal Again that Buffy had spent time in an institution bugged me simply because we had seen many Buffy/Joyce interactions that never mentioned this, even when Buffy made jokes about fighting vampires.

New characters mean new background, new stories, new relationships and make new stories possible without tripping over previously established facts.

Also, business-wise, a new show with a new cast of unknowns would be far cheaper than the mega paychecks the existing stars would want. The cast salary budget alone could make the difference between a new series being greenlit or not.

Being of advanced age I can (just about) remember all the fuss when the ST people announced they would be making a new series, but without Shatner, Nimoy etc. Even in those far off days before the newfangled interweb the fan reaction was spectacular.

It wasn't until the TNG started to air and they found that they quite liked it that they relented. I would expect a Slayer TNG to be the same.
I live in Cleveland and am a HUGE Buffy fan! Lemme know if anyone wants to help out with this idea. I've recently discovered my love of film production and editing and I would love to put together a pilot!

If anyone wants to write me a script I'd be happy to looka at them and produce them.

Likewise if anyone wants to act in it I'd like to involve you too!

I was planning on making my own movie this summer any ways but the scripot isnt coming along so I'd be happy to do this!

Anyone want to contact me my name is JP and email is Buffyfan45@cox.net

My only problem is that I have very sub-standard software and connot ever imagine trying to afford the software they mention in the article. If you have any sugestions, please let me know!

Again BUFFYFAN45@COX.NET
New characters and situations within the Buffyverse "idiom" would be perfectly doable.
CHP. The Cleveland Hellmouth Project!

Do u have a script or concept idea?

Do you want to act in it?

Do you want to be involed in any way?

Then e-mail me!

contact Buffyfan45@cox.net
Why not have a watcher finding a new slayer in Cleveland and together, with other diverse charchters, work to shut down the Hellmouth and prevent another strike by the First. The watcher could have been sent by Giles and the rebuilt Watcher's Council, plus there could be watchers and slayer sent to other hellmouths in hopes of shutting them down. You could mention the people from Buffy and Angel and learn their fates from the watcher. Plus, there could be "guest appearences" like on Angel S5 where Angel talked to Giles on the phone, but we didn't see or hear him. We'd get new charchters and adventures, but with strong ties and familiarity with the Buffyverse of old.
I think we should do the "Naked Faith fighting vampires" thing. Then we could show it EVERY Christmas!
Had Buffy been in an institution? Or had she just had counseling? In any case, I thought it actually strengthened the impact of the episode, because we were sure that there was no connection with the (whedonverse) real world... until we discovered that one niggling little fact.
She was in the clinic for a couple of weeks.


WILLOW: Buffy, look at me. You are not in an institution. You have never been in an institution.
BUFFY: Yes I have.
WILLOW: What?
BUFFY: Back when I saw my first vampires. I got so scared. I told my parents and they completely freaked out. They thought there was something seriously wrong with me. So they sent me to a clinic.
WILLOW: You never said anything...
BUFFY: I was only there a couple of weeks. I stopped talking about it and they let me go. Eventually, my parents just, forgot.


If this happened and then a year or so later, S2s Bad Eggs, Buffy can joke about "Saving the world from vampires" I would have expected a far greater reaction from Joyce.

When you have a hundred and fifty odd episodes of a show trying to write new ones while remembering every little line ever said and making sure you don't conflict becomes impossible.

A new show with new characters gives the writers far more freedom to spring some great suprises on us. Much as I'd love to see a Faith show or what happens to Fred and Wesley...
The Normal Again episode always bothered me too. When i rewatch earlier episodes like when she was in the hospital in season 2 and shes yeling about vamps, Joyce is just casual about it. I try to chalk it up that Joyce just turned a blind eye cause Buffy was very ill.

sorry i am soo off topic but someone mentioned it and i was like yea me too!!!
Dark Horse Comics did a 4 issue story arc about Buffy's time in the institution after she burnt down the gym. I haven't read it but I have heard good things about it. The 4 issues have been collected in TPB format and here's the relevant info at the Dark Horse site.
Very cool artwork, thanks Simon.
I know I'm alone this, but I wanted to see a Connor series after the mind wipe. I loved his action scenes on Angel. And I thought that would have been an awesome premise if he went to college in Cleaveland, without his memory of Angel and all the craziness he went through, and on the first episode he was attacked, or saw someone being attacked by vampires, and he suddenly discovers he can fight. Would have been interesting seeing him try to discover why he is like he is, maybe even having someone like Spike or Gunn sent him to by Angel to be his "Watcher" of sorts. But they returned his memory lol.

[ edited by Odysseus on 2005-05-03 01:43 ]
"the slayerverse is more than big enough,"

Absolutely, Watcher.
So how 'bout some Fray action?
And, not a fan of recasting here. Serves no purpose with all the other stories that haven't been told.

Finally, that bit in Normal Again bothered me too. Not that she had been in an institution, but that Joyce never mentioned it -- especially just prior to Buffy telling her about being the Slayer and all that. I guess I could see it being the kind of thing no one wants to bring up, but at the same time, it seemed like we would have known by then. It didn't quite jive.
If I remember correctly in the comics it's Dawn that tells Buffy's parents about the vampires, which leads to Buffy's being put in an institution. If this were to be counted as canon, then it's entirely possible that in the reality that actually happened, Buffy never spent any time in an instituion.

I wasn't particularly keen on "Normal Again", mostly because of the ending, I hate endings like that.
Loved Normal Again. I think I know what you mean about the ending, Ghost Spike. What made it work for me was the delicious ambiguity of it. (Or maybe that's what you hated?) I don't particularly care about every dot being joined up. For those who like that, there's fanfic; for those who don't, such as me, there's the wonderful unspoken "what if" . . . I like to be left hanging, in short.

And, yes, no recasting, but yay to new slayer forms. Fray would be great. In fact, I'd prefer to see a brand new thing over any reunion of the Scoobies, with the exception of a Ripper series.
To me all the ending of Normal Again represented was the last of the demonic drug gradually losing it's effect and Buffy's mind giving the whole affair a sense of closure by letting her see her "parents" say goodbye as the imaginary Buffy gradually fades away. Kind of her way of dealing with what had just happened to her and putting an end to the whole dream world her mind had created. Simple as that.

Quick edit to say a big YES to any live action form of Fray. That is just begging to be made!

[ edited by The Watcher on 2005-05-03 02:26 ]
How do they dare mocking the Ewoks. They are by far the coolest alien race in the entire Star Wars saga. And to think they would compare them to Jar Jar... grrrr...
Re-casting Buffy with a different actor--bad idea. Unless it was a remake (and I kinda hope they don't do one of those, or at least wait a decade or two). I get a little frustrated about minor characters being recast (Robin Woods' mother Nikki, anyone?), so I doubt I'd react well to a new Buffy within the current continuity. No lame Buffy's-soul-switches-bodies-permanently either.

New stories within the Buffyverse? Definitely open to that. Outside of the most-desired but unlikely potential projects like an Angel continuation/mini-series or a Buffy-specific film (which I'd definitely watch but kinda don't feel the need for after "Chosen"), I'm sure there're many great stories they could tell. But not without Joss Whedon, and not if it runs the franchise into the ground. Remember, we got 12 seasons of this thing, that's kind of a miracle for a TV series that debuted in the `90s. Do you really want to make this into another Trek thing? Let the series live on in fan fiction, novels, and comic books for those who don't want to let go. The rest of us are more than satisfied to have our DVDs to crack open occasionally. And appreciate the memory and reputation of the franchise not being tainted by lesser spin-offs.

The Cleveland thing...I always felt it was a good little throwaway line, not to mention a reference to "The Wish". I'm not sure I need to see more Hellmouth-battling, though the prospect of normal folks without any superpowers struggling through the fight could be kinda cool. It's just that I wouldn't trust Joss to not make at least one of them superpowered over time (even he admitted in an interview that he can't resist doing it in his most "realistic" creator-owned series to date, re: River on Firefly). I mean it wouldn't make sense for this theoretical group to not recruit someone powerful or for one of them to learn magic. It'd happen, and the premise would be changed, I'd cry foul and...well, probably still watch, but with heavy criticisms. So, yeah, not keen on the Cleveland thing.

Remember though that I come at this from the kind of perspective of, "I like--make that, I greatly prefer--a solid beginning, middle, and conclusion."

[ edited by Kris on 2005-05-03 03:46 ]
Just my two cents, but I think that Buffy saying she was in an institution is an unforgivable violation of continuity. As was said above, if this were true, then Joyce's reaction to anything having to do with vampires would be completely different. And when Joyce realizes vampires do exist? There is no logical reason for her not to say something that would express her sorrow at having taken Buffy to a institution. And on top of that the writers add a "they just forgot". They just forgot about the time they sent their daughter to an institution. BS!

The writers were just trying to find a reason why "our" Buffy might actually think that maybe being the Slayer was a delusion. It was a BS piece of writing! I'm not one of these people that feels every "i" must be dotted and "t" crossed (For instance, I can roll with changing Spike's sire from Angel to Drusilla.), and we all have our own personal lines where we feel a violation of continuity went to far. And that part of "Normal Again" went too far for me. Just my opinion.

On the other hand, I liked the premise of the episode, and thought they handled most of it well. Loved the scenes in the institution and the scene in which Buffy decided the Slayer world was the real one. I thought Tara's showing up at the end was a bit too convenient. Loved the last shot. It was well done artistically, and I didn't feel my head was being messed with even though I can understand why some reacted that way. Even though my reading of the ep says that the Hank and Joyce and Buffy in the institution were not real, the writing and the acting of those scenes was so effective that I had an emotional reaction to the last shot even though I didn't those events actually happened.

Sorry to babble on so much but that line from "Normal Again" really strikes a nerve.

FRAY--all for it! New characters set in the 'Verse--all for it!
RIPPER--all for it! Spinoff with other existing characters--all for it! BUFFY movie--all for it! BUFFY ANIMATED--all for it! Just give us something! As long as it's canon.
Although I can understand the feeling that Joyce would have reacted differently if Buffy had been in an institution, I disagree. They established that Joyce was in heavy denial, and was good at it. I have known many such people and have been amazed at their capacity to ignore anything that upsets what they have chosen to believe.

Joyce may very well have come to understand, on one level, that Buffy deals with things she does not want to know about and was telling the truth about the vampires. If that is the case, they put her in the clinic when they shouldn't have. Therefore along with denying the vampires and the reasons Buffy needs blood washed out of her clothes regularly, Joyce would also not think about having put Buffy in any clinic.

Farfetched you say? One example: A friend has a brother who has been stealing his whole life from everyone, family, friends and strangers. He has stolen his mother's wedding ring...twice, and gotten her to spend almost every dime she has on him. Although she was left finacially secure by her late husband, she is now in deep debt and constantly in danger of losing her home and not being able to support herself, because of him. His mother still claims he is a good boy (of 53) who either is always being picked on by the nasty police and courts, or just needs help that everyone is to selfish to give him. She manages to declare these things loudly for all to hear while at the same time trying to hide any of her financial dealings from him. On one level she obviously knows he cannot be trusted or she would not lie to him. You would never guess, however, by what she says to everyone who will listen, including him.

Certain people are incredibly good at denial. Mention was made more than twice about Joyce being one of those people.

And yes, recasting bad. New characters, good. Spin-off of old characters with interesting premise, also good. Ideas all from of mind of Joss, necessary.
My understanding of the article is that it is all about the non-canon stories and how they now can be told in a new format, if the conclusion of the thread is that only canon is acceptable then the whole thing falls flat on it's face doesn't it ?

BTW, I'd be interested in looking at fan-fiction that does not include existing characters but only contains new characters within the existing Buffyverse framework, anyone know if such a thing exist at all or is it all about the characters we love/hate ?

'Fanfiction on screen' would seem to be a logical extension of the massive amounts of fanfiction that is currently being written only using more advanced technology to tell the stories, I'd actually think that the best way to do it would be to go all CGI/animation, no pesky actors required just write a story and send away to an animation shop, some time later people can watch it on the screen, still prohibitively expensive I guess but in the future who knows ?

While I do believe that SMG and the Buffy character was a key part in how the show was presented and sold by the WB and was a large part of the reason why the show lasted as long as it did, a fanfiction show being done for non-profit reasons for the already existing fanbase shouldn't need that kind of promotion, quite the opposite, 'fanfiction on screen' would be possible only as long as it kept a low profile, as soon as it started to be recognized on the radar someone would start to think of ways to make money off it and the whole thing would go ka-boom since after all the Buffyverse is someones intellectual property.

ETA, Is it me or have the article been updated ?

"Shows or movies that rely on a single, charismatic actor—like Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer—aren't as easy to replicate. But Buffy fans could simply create spinoffs, the way Buffy's creator churned out a series of comic books starring other teen slayers."


[ edited by jpr on 2005-05-03 10:08 ]
I sometimes think that we may expect a little too much from Joss and the other Mutant Enemy writers. We are so used to seeing continuity play out so fluidly that when something happens that doesn't quite click into place we jump all over it. Knowing that Joss plans things so far in advance, not to mention that the writers are so very good at remembering the tiniest details from years past, has made us all very picky.

I think it goes without saying that they had not planned for the whole "Buffy was in an institution" revelation back when they were writing Becoming and the scenes where Buffy told Joyce that she was a slayer. Obviously, had the Normal Again details been a part of the established canon by this point then the conversation between mother and daughter would likely have gone very differently.

As it stands there are ways to get around the fact that this subject was not mentioned in Becoming. Maybe everything was just moving so fast that Joyce didn't have time to process everything. Maybe it was just that she was so ashamed that she had put Buffy into an institution when it turned out that everything she had been saying was real. Maybe a lot of different things. In a long running show there are bound to be minor errors when the writers create retro-continuity. Given how few and far between they are in Buffy and Angel i think we can let them pass.
Normal Again is definitely one of my faves and the continuity error actually helps the episode. I mean, if what Buffy said was true, that she had been in an institution before, then one would assume that it would have been touched upon before. But it wasn't.
Now, stop and think about it. What if Sunnydale really is an illusion in her mind, then that very same inconsistency is entirely possible because in your brain you can come up with whatever you want at any time. That at first glance error is what makes the claim that Buffy is cooked up in a mental institution more substantiated and ultimately work.
Djungelurban, i think the issue most people have with Normal Again is the very fact that they don't want to consider the possibility that Sunnydale, Scoobies and Slayers are just figments of Buffy's imagination and that the entire series is going on in her head. Your little theory isn't going to help, lol! :)

What amazes me is that nobody really mentions just how unlikely it is that the whole thing was just a made up story in a delusional girls mind. I mean, no matter how unbalanced Buffy was and how strong her hallucinations became, she would still only be seeing things from a personal point of view. Every scene of every episode would have needed to have Buffy present for it to actually have been going on in her head.

Even if we can ignore all the scenes that we saw in BtVS where things were happening totally unknown to Buffy herself, you would be hard pressed to believe that she could also have been imagining everything that was going on in Los Angeles with the Fang Gang at the same time. No matter how crazy she was, this would be stretching the limits her imagination a little too far.

Nope, sorry, whilst Normal Again made for some interesting possibilities and discussions i think it would just be too ludicrous to believe that she could have somehow been imagining the day by day lives of the characters of two series, as well as all the recurring characters and bad guys too.
Very interesting POV Djungleurban. I want to chew on that for awhile.
I think the continuity error bugged me because it was so obvious on the first viewing for me, so I totally wondered, how'd they come up with that? Yet, it brings up the denial issue demonstrated by the Sunnydale population time and time again. Hmmmmmmm, brain candy.
There have been a few Buffy-derived fans films, particularly out of the creative minds of the UK: Fluffy the English Vampire Slayer and more recently (and on-going) Barry the Demon Hunter

Both are quite clever on shoe-string budgets.

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