Part 2: Why The Hell Did I Turn This Into A Series? OR. Making Our Own Complex Equation.
Hey, you made it all the way through part one. Jesus, I did not mean for that to be well over a thousand words. I’ll try to keep these next ones shorter.
Just kidding, y’all know this shit is gonna spiral outta control.
With episode one finished, I had my greatest achievement ready to share with the internet. Power Rangers and 21 Jump Street fans would totally eat this up, right? They’d totally shower me with praise, right? I’d get all the validation I so desperately needed and this would make me internet famous, right?
If you’re looking for positive reinforcement and pats on the back, don’t ever post shit on the internet. Power Rangers fans tore the thing apart. Bad sound. Bad acting. Horrible writing.
21 Jump Street fandom didn’t exist so no luck there.
My dreams of glory were fading fast. Amidst the “THIS SUCKS” posts from PR fans a few had some genuine advice.
Awesome! I learned a lot and it was the perfect end cap on my high school experience. Now, as I went off to college, I could move on to bigger and better projects.
Ha. Ha. Ha. HA. HA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
I wouldn’t shut up about 21 JSR. Ever. Ask anyone I knew back then. It would come up within five minutes of meeting me. It was my calling card.
First week of college five new friends come over to my place and I made them watch 21 JSR. Three of them didn’t speak to me after that. What? Preppy college kids aren’t into the minutia of American Tokusatsu? BLASPHEMY.
I couldn’t let the series go. I’d be walking home from class and imagine further adventures of the characters. And I mean… I had two other episodes worth of footage to play with AND the Rescue Force movie. It wouldn’t be that hard, right?
I’m sure all of you aspiring Ameri-Toku fan film creators think this is a no brainer. This is where I stop the story of this insane venture and throw down some wisdom.
Making a fan film 99.99% of the time is a learning experience only. As previously mentioned, you won’t get fame from it. Certainly not a job. Newsflash, no one outside the fandom really takes Power Rangers seriously.
Whenever a teacher or gods forbid a possible employer (YEAH, THAT HAPPENED) would see 21JSR, the inevitable thought that went through the head was, ‘so you stole half this footage’. You can explain adaptations and Zyuranger and Tony Oliver all day, but they won’t care.
So if you’re just using an Ameri-Toku fanfilm/series as a learning experience or it’s just a fun hobby? Awesome! If not? Really think about why you’re doing it.
I was doing it because I was 18, a huge fanboy, and didn’t want to let go of my greatest work. It’s scary to work on something new and 21 JSR was safe.
So I talked with Jared about my ideas for extending the series to three episodes. We’d have a big second episode and the third would be the finale. No problem, right? Yep, this totally won’t balloon out of control. (Spoiler, it did.)
So with episode two a go, I had to address the criticism from episode one. The biggest complaint by far was that James, as an actor, sucked. They weren’t wrong. Love you James, but it’s true. I needed a stronger lead.
Now in a sane world, I would have just recast the part and kept going. Instead, I proposed the idea of a “Mini-Venture” set between episodes one and two that would set up a new character who would take over as the leader of the 21 JSR team.
Because that’s how you handle a cast change! Yep. Oh well, learning experience, right?
While what became known as episode 1.5 still had the quality issues of episode one, at least we used the run time more effectively. Not only was the new main character Milo introduced but also Arthur and Darryl, who’d be key players in episode two.
I’ve already spoken about Jared playing Darryl, but Mayowa as Milo was a goddamn revelation. While the part itself was paper thin, Mayowa still managed to bring a great deal of warmth and humor to the role. Eric as Arthur was mostly there to get ruffed around by Darryl, but he’d come to play a very important part down the road. (FORESHADOWING. DID YOU NOTICE IT?!)
The only thing that’s really noteworthy about the filming of episode 1.5 was that scheduling it was a beast. This would be a sign of things to come. Since half the cast and crew were off at college, the only practical time to shoot would be over thanksgiving break. Yeah, while everyone was super busy visiting family. That makes sense.
Somehow everyone agreed to it. For as much as I had a growing problem with depression at the time (did you like how I casually dropped that HUGE bombshell here?) and had major self-confidence issues, the cast kept showing up. I must have been doing something right. That or they all just loved how much we laughed on set. If you’ve seen the blooper reel, you know what I’m talking about.
The Mini-Venture was released in January 2010 and received little fanfare. What? No one cared about an Ameri-Toku episode that didn’t utilize any Japanese footage? NO WAY.
But who cares? Because episode two was coming soon.
A year later.
Hey, remember when I wasn’t going to talk about mini episodes for three pages? OH WELL.