Back in 2008, two guys came up with a crazy idea: let’s make another installment in the beloved Firefly/Serenity universe. By the time everything shook out, Steve Fisher and Michael Dougherty had a project and a goal: a film, funded entirely by donations, with the profits going to charity, ready to debut at the 2010 Dragon*Con.
Together with a small group of collaborators, they got the script written, plans laid, and started putting together a budget of donations and their own money. Open auditions were held, the cast of actors filled out—from first-timers to experienced indie actors—and the support staff started coming together, too. It was about this time that they realized just what they’d unleashed. This was one of those things that took on a life of its own, developed its own gravity and rolled right along.
Primary filming was finished by September, 2009, and the first Browncoats: Redemption panel was put on the schedule for Dragon*Con.
The panel was packed for the first trailer screening and discussion. Boosted by the fans’ response, the team moved into production and wrapped the film for world-wide release at the 2010 Dragon*Con.
About the movie
Picking up where Serenity left off, the movie follows the exploits of Captain Laura Matthews and her crew. The Alliance, shamed by Mal and his crew, crack down on all of the Browncoats. Laura’s always kept her nose clean, but a new job and too many secrets mean she’ll be hard-pressed to get out of this one in one piece.
Featuring props from the actual Firefly show and Serenity movie, in-jokes and cameos from actors, authors and musicians, Browncoats: Redemption is a movie made by fans, for fans.
By the 2010 Dragon*Con, the movie was finished, a wild ride from start to finish. The premier—one of Dragon*Con’s featured events—was one of the most anticipated events of the convention. The line for the theater was out the door. . . and down the street. . . and around the block. . . by mid-afternoon.
During the premiere, the movie was also streaming, for free, online. Unfortunately, the infamously weak Dragon*Con internet cost an unknown amount of damage. The forums and fan pages filled up with well, I’d watch it, but this internet thing, y’know? Despite the internet issues, the page received 12,000 hits in 48 hours.
The table did brisk business, too, with fans stopping by to meet the directors and actors. Over the course of the weekend, 650 hard copies of the DVD were sold.
After viewing the film, actress Jewel Staite (Kaylee) stated that she was impressed with the result. “That was not easy to do, especially with no money or anything,” she said. “It’s really incredible that they went to all that effort.”
Browncoats: Redemption has a lofty goal: $500,000 dollars for charity, or about $90,000 for each of the five charities they are supporting. Each of the charities is supported/founded by one of the main Firefly cast stars.
Kids Need to Read was started by Nathan Fillion and author PJ Haarsma, with the goal of providing speculative fiction books to disadvantaged libraries and schools. PJ not only has a cameo in Redemption, but sat on the 2009 panel, as well. KNTR has an active convention presence, as well as numerous fund-raisers and projects up their sleeve.
The Dyslexia Foundation, Equality Now, the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation and the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center round out the line-up of charities, representing an incredibly diverse range of efforts. In the current economical climate, the Browncoats donation could be life-changing.
Director Michael Dougherty just mailed off the first charity checks: just over $9000 dollars, $1800 per charity. That’s just from the online donations through September 30. The challenge is to move about 32,000 DVDs by the end of 2011 to reach the monetary goal.
We’re not likely to ever see another ‘official’ film from this universe. Although numerous efforts have been made, the conclusion is that this is over and done, leaving a good many unhappy fans. Browncoats: Redemption fills a little of that gap, while also endeavoring to make a difference in the community that not only supported it, but made the film possible. If nothing else, this movie is a great example of the power of the fandom, and a lovely counterpoint to all of the bad news we hear every day. We need more Big Damn Heroes in the world.
Addendum: The Browncoats: Redemption crew has created a special discount code for Fantasy Magazine readers. Through Jan. 1, 2010, use the code FantasyMag2010 to receive a discount on the dvd at check-out.