Published on February 23rd, 2013 | by Bane Srdjevic4
Behind the Scenes: The Freeman Chronicles
One week after the release of ‘Enter the Freeman,’ the live action Half-Life fan film, viewers weren’t just politely nodding in its direction when friends asked where they could get more Gordon; they were strapping them down into chairs and taping their eyes open so they wouldn’t miss a single minute of it. The only question that was left when the screen went black was ‘will there be more?’ Well, one year and half a million views later, Ian James Duncan and Bernhard Forcher have finally answered that question with the start of an IndieGoGo campaign for their new project, ‘The Freeman Chronicles.’
‘The Freeman Chronicles’ is a live action Web series continuation of ‘Enter the Freeman,’ taking place in the Half-Life 1 universe before Gordon goes to Xen, makes his deal with the G-Man, and then arrives in the future City 17, but truth be told EtF was supposed to be an isolated incident. “Once we saw the response from the fans and the numerous requests for more we had a conversation about it,” said Forcher, the actor who plays Gordon Freeman.
“We knew pretty early on that we would need the fans’ help to finance any more as we had already spent thousands on credit cards [on EtF] and were still paying it off.” It’s no secret that money doesn’t grow on trees, but even rarer is making a great fan fiction. Put those two together and I’d say the odds are stacked pretty high against you, especially if your ambition is even higher. Even so, Duncan, the director of EtF, doesn’t mind it one bit.
“With EtF we used the house of one of the cast members because we could not afford to rent locations and we wrote the story around that location,” Duncan said. “That kept us from having to spend money on things we didn’t have. We used almost all the equipment we already owned and begged, borrowed and stole the rest and kept the crew to an absolute minimum. Seeing people go apeshit for it was the best feeling and made all the hard work worth it.”
According to Duncan, the team has been getting some flak since announcing the project was a crowdfund. But really, the ones criticizing them are like the guests who don’t chip in for a BYOB party, drink more than anyone else, leave without even offering to help clean, and then wonder why they weren’t invited to the next one. It’s a film by fans, for fans and so really everyone gets something out of it, and the campaign will go into production regardless if it hits the mark or not. As Duncan put it, the campaign isn’t for green lighting the project but for scaling the “epicness” of the story.
“We wanna add a number of monsters, weapons and sets that are just not possible with no money. Seeing Freeman and developing his character for 40 minutes will be amazing. He is one of the most bad ass video game characters of all time… I can tell you for a fact it IS possible, for this small amount of money, to have Vortigaunts, Barnacles, helicopters, and a HECU commander so hell bent on killing Freeman that he is willing to nuke the whole of Black Mesa.”
Forcher just wants to make sure they have enough to give Gordon Freeman the time he deserves. “If we can make at least a couple more episodes so that the fans can really see Gordon Freeman in action we will be happy,” he said. “I can tell you right now though if we can only make one or two it will most certainly be a cliff hanger. Telling a complete story in a short time is not something we want to do. We want to develop the characters, especially Freeman and what he goes through.”
If that isn’t enough to excite you, then how about this: Duncan and Forcher are not only asking fans to help raise funds, they’re asking fans to make the story. Each episode will follow a core story line that has already been hammered out, but since ‘The Freeman Chronicles’ will be released episode by episode, each seven-minute segment will be directed based on the suggestions of the contributors.
“We may ask the fans that contributed things like: ‘we have the opportunity to show one of the following’ and they decide what they would prefer to see,” said Duncan. “I want to emphasize that we have a great script and that the core of it will remain the same, we certainly don’t want to give it away before it’s online, but there are plenty of possibilities for fans to give their opinions on what should happen before we shoot.”
While there are many Half-Life fan fics already out, Duncan and Forcher want to take the fan franchise to the next level. Forcher believes that if you can truly do a fan created series where just the fans contribute, it really says a lot about the game. I don’t think anyone can say that the Half-Life series doesn’t deserve it, and in order to pay it the proper homage the two have signed an agreement to work with Infectious Designer who created ‘Half-Life: Origins’ and ‘Beyond Black Mesa,’ which combined have over 3,000,000 views. “Adding his skills and Half-Life experience to this project will only go towards making it far better and showing the fans that we are totally committed to making this fan series the best it can be,” Forcher says.
Honestly, it doesn’t seem like the Half-Life fan base needs any more convincing of their ambition to make this the best Half-Life fan film ever. Being diehard fans themselves, the team doesn’t need to be reminded that the audience for the series is an older one, one that has been waiting diligently for Episode 3 for almost a decade, and one that will not accept mistakes and cut corners. They have designed the series to be fan-made, fan-funded, and fan-directed, and on top of that they’re even giving away the HEV suit from EtF after they finish the shoot on their site.
The crowdfund ends in early April so get over there and help out by supporting the campaign or spreading the word. Either way, expect the first episode to be released around June 2013, and be ready for more Gordon, more G-Man, and more headcrabs than you can shake a crowbar at.