Image Credit: Bryan McCormack Books (Fair Use)
Image Description: The cover of A Fan Film Adventure in Space and Time!
The world of fan filmmaking is something Doctor Who has a long association with. Though their legal status may vary, they can feature monsters (Shakedown), actors (Devious) and more from the show, transposed into a somewhat less funded medium. A Fan Film Adventure in Space and Time! sets out to document this process, with author Bryan McCormack summarising the process of producing his own film while at University. In doing so, his book captures the concept of the fan film well, embodying the positives, but also its many negatives.
McCormack’s passion for Doctor Who is clear from the off, and it shows from the off. The best moments of A Fan Film Adventure in Space and Time! are those which look at the process of making the film, something that many people do not have the time, resources or passion to carry through. Here, the personal touches that he adds when describing his motivations provide the narrative with something of an emotional heft that is likely to appeal to many fan readers.
Of course, fandom can have its downsides, and this, unfortunately, is a frequent drag upon to the book itself. Like many fan films that have been made over the years, A Fan Film Adventure in Space and Time! is self-published. As a result, a bit of judicious editing wouldn’t have gone amiss, and though the author takes responsibility for errors in the text, the structure of the book is a bit of a mess. Parts seem almost stream of consciousness, a series of ideas jumbled together in a chapter for no inherent reason. This description can also apply to the book as a whole. It feels as though there are around three books in one here. That describing the process of making the film itself, and the motivations for it, is the best; a gem of an idea buried by two others. The most unusual is the components which seem to have been incorporated from a self-help guide, with some ‘interesting’ theories about why people relate to each other, and seem to have slipped in from McCormack’s previous publication, Sell Your Self!.
However, these two books don’t make up the body of the text. That is reserved for the other component, which reads as something along the lines of ‘The World according to Bryan McCormack.’ When some fans give their opinion on Who, and the world, you sit up and listen. But generally, they have distinguished themselves in some manner, whether it’s through work on the show, its expanded media, or by building a reputation in the community. McCormack, as far as I am aware, has not done any of these, and so as a result, it’s hard to care. This is especially the case if you happen to be a fan of most of the 4th Doctor’s era, or that of the 5th, 6th and 7th. The 13th Doctor isn’t even acknowledged in his ranking, which the publication date indicates is most likely deliberate, while despite his opening chapter indicating he’s not a fan of Star Wars, he certainly has strong opinions about Rogue One and The Last Jedi. Perhaps the icing on this particular cake is when he describes the election of Donald Trump as ‘putting a spanner in the socialist globalist works.’ I leave readers of this review to draw their own conclusions. Furthermore, given McCormack’s many opinions on many of his fellow cast members, it would be interesting, in a Lost in La Mancha-style offering, to see exactly what they thought of him.
Though there is an interesting tale buried in it somewhere, A Fan Film Adventure in Space and Time! becomes lost en route to the reader. If it were to focus on the process more thoroughly, it could even be a good read, but as it stands, it is likely to only appeal to that specific section of Doctor Who fandom which McCormack finds himself a part of. If that includes you, a sequel is planned for 2020.