One of the many things that I love about doing the Fan Film Boyz Podcast, and fan films in general is when I see fan film makers start to become successful because of their films. Over the last year I have seen this a few times, however, one of the best examples is that of filmmaker Steven Lawson of Law5on Studios based in England. I first came across Steven's films when the Fan Film Boyz sponsored the 2017 Fanfilm Awards in which Steven had entered one of his fan films 'Freddy's Nightmare'.
As the title probably gave away, 'Freddy's Nightmare' is a short film based on the iconic Freddy Kruger, the villain from the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Steven did everything for this film, he wrote the screenplay and script, he directed it and edited it together, and he did a really amazing job. 'Freddy's Nightmare' and Steven were nominated in the Best Director category, and even though he did not win, the film did achieve an Award of Merit at a different festival, the IndieFest Film Awards.
The Freddy film is not Steven's only fan film, his YouTube Channel Law5on Studio's has other films that he has done, his first film 'a NIGHT for a KILL' was published in 2016 and was his first attempt at an animated comic book series. This film also received an Award for Merit, this time at the Best Shorts Competition. This then brings me to his latest film, and personally this one is my favorite, 'Man-At-Arms'.
'Man-At-Arms' was released on July 22, 2017 and is based on the hugely successful children's program He-Man. This particular story takes place well before the epic battles between He-Man and Skelator, it is sort of a origin story for an often overlooked character. At just under 10 minutes it is short and sweet an to the point!
As I mentioned I got to know Steven because of our sponsorship of the 2017 Fanfilm Awards, I spoke with a lot of the entrant, some of them were even on some of our earlier shows. Steven and I became Facebook friends and we have been trying to organize a show to record. When 'Man-At-Arms' was released, I emailed Steven to get some more information on the project. Instead of summing up what he said, let me just include his response here.
Well, I grew up in the 80's and was a big HE-MAN fan,from action figures,the TV show and of course the movie.
After my Freddy's Nightmare movie I decided I wanted to do something a little bit different, a different Genre, but I still wanted my new film to be dark. I began working on a number of short story idea's and kept getting drawn back to the idea of a woman running for her life. At this point I was writing a draft for Visionaries (another 80's TV show I loved), I created some pre-viz animations and was planning another live action shoot...I later decided to go with CGI animation (as I felt I had more control over the project)..I've done a couple of animated shorts before and thought this is definitely the way to go with this project. Then,that's when it hit me, why do Visionaries? Why not go more Fantasy, there are no limits in CGI animation and I could do almost anything I wanted, create a whole new world with magic and Monsters...Masters of the Universe was the way I wanted to go.
I kept the idea of the woman running for her life, but needed a reason why, then I thought maybe she could be carrying a child and she needs to get it to safety, "wait, the baby could be HE-MAN, this story could take place before he became Master of the Universe, Man-at-Arms always seemed like a Father figure to him in the cartoons so I'll make the story about him and how he ends up raising He-Man as his own son"....I then had to think on how Man-at-Arms comes into the story, "I know,he could be hunting in the forest for his dinner, a portal will open (chasing the deer away), she then gets attacked by a Monster, Beastman (he can live in the forest) and then Man-at-Arms tries to save her"..That's when everything started falling into place..I then went back and thought "How did she end up in the forest, I know she came from a portal but from where?"
Trap Jaw was my favorite villain, I had to put him in the film "I know, Trap Jaw could be hunting the woman at the beginning,,,,,she gets cornered and then uses her magic powers to form a portal into the forest, Wait, this woman could be the sorceress,"...It went on from there, more idea's formed and six months later it's on the screen for people to see.
I used poser animation software and bought Characters (I customized) and set's (which I rendered in element 3d,a plug-in for after effects by video copilot) from daz 3d and renderosity.
Sound was probably the hardest thing to do in this project, I needed to find epic style tracks that would fit the pace of my movie. I scrolled through what seemed like hundreds of tracks on the AudioJungle website, eventually I found what I was looking for. Then it was time for sound fx (which also felt like forever)...A friend of mine (Ann Wardle) that I know from a local drama group agreed to do the voice of the Sorceress, I've worked with Ann before on a project and felt that she was right for the part. I did the voice of Man-at-Arms.
I really enjoyed working on this project so much that I've decided to do a sequel.This time the story will take place years later and follow HE-MAN into battle against Skeletor.
I really enjoyed this film, first of all because it is so completely different from a lot of fan films that I usually watch and review (and I have seen a lot for this podcast). It is entirely CGI animation, which is something I personally have never seen done before in a fan film, and secondly it is about a character that is not one that is usually focused on, and gives him a backstory that really shows that he is just as important to the entire saga as He-Man himself! I am planning on keeping this post spoiler free because I want you all to go watch it and experience it for yourselves, trust me you will not be disappointed. There is so much happening and it is so visually stunning to watch. There is still parts that could be improved, but for a first attempt at CGI, Steven did an amazing job.
Since the email from Steven, he has put the idea of a sequel on hold and is currently working on other fan film ideas both using CGI as well as traditional techniques. When you get a chance, visit and subscribe to Law5on Studios on YouTube so that you can stay aware of any new films that he releases. As usual feel free to comment below with what you think of Steven's films, I am sure that he would love to hear what you have to say!
Till next time, stay safe gang!