From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

I Am A Browncoat

Michael Dougherty, director of Browncoats: Redemption, had more than a few scares during the filming for his charity project. Seeing Mal Reynolds’ resin pistol lying on the ground—in three pieces—and his lead star lying on the ground next to it, holding her head, is one that is often trotted out at conventions and over coffee.

The pistol had been donated by QMX, as were many of the props. The scene, a fight between the Redemption crew and Alliance forces, still hadn’t been filmed. But Alliance guys can’t catch, and so when the pistol was thrown, it went through his hands and bounced off of Captain Laura Matthews‘ (played by Heather Fagan) head. Petra Jo Chen (Miriam Pultro), was in tears.

And it happened again. The scene was eventually shot, the pistol repaired, and filming continued.

Just another day in live-action filming.

The catch-phrase of this project has been Browncoat all the way. ‘We are mighty!’, said the crowd at the Dragon*Con Browncoats’ Shindig, and the cast and crew of Redemption are echoing those words.

The live-action filming was completed in 18 shooting-days, a marathon that included abrupt location changes and long, long days. In just over a year, Redemption went from concept to reality, and the first official trailer releases today. New trailers will release every two months after; the next trailer releases in November and is sponsored by QMX. At this point, the hope is to begin official screenings in May, 2010, followed by a release at Dragon*Con.

There is quite a bit of hope in Browncoats’ camps that this film heralds a return of Firefly. A ‘Next Generation’ for the story, if you will. The panel at Dragon*Con was loaded with questions of ‘have you thought about what comes next?’ ‘Do you think Fox will take notice of this?’ ‘Are you prepared to write a second, a third film, or a series?’

The answers? Yes, what’s next is already in the planning stages. Maybe Fox will take notice of it, who knows? Yes, second and third films are already being discussed, and a series would be cool!

Browncoats: Redemption has shot into a sort of notoriety in an amazingly short period of time. A suggestion by Steve Fisher, a bit of random crowd-polling at the 2008 Dragon*Con, and Michael had a project. By the 2009 Dragon*Con, Michael was blown away by the fans’ response. They were flat-out excited.

Why all the excitement about Redemption? Why do people jump up and hug Mike when they see him in the airport, or when they are handed a promotional poster?

Maybe because Browncoats are a community of fans who not only support the film, the series, and the fan projects, but also have a wonderful sense of giving back to their community. Redemption was entirely a fan project, from stars to the ship’s builders. The Redemption panel at Dragon*Con was packed, even after being moved to a bigger room.

Maybe because the film itself is all about community, and giving back. All profits from Redemption will be split equally between five charities. These charities were started, or are supported strongly, by the original cast of Firefly.

One of those charities in particular has strong ties to both Redemption and Firefly.

Started by Nathan Fillion and P.J. Haarsma, Kids Need to Read is the newest of the charities supported by Redemption. Focusing on disadvantaged kids and under-stocked libraries, Kids Need to Read is dedicated to getting quality books out to the kids who need them most.

Redemption has already done great things for KNTR. The crew put out a call on their Facebook fan-page for donations to help bring KNTR to Dragon*Con. Over a thousand dollars was raised. In the Sunday morning panel alone, the Browncoats raised $750 for KNTR. Most of it was in ones, fives, tens.

If there’s a charity that may be a little closer to the hearts of the fans than the others, KNTR is it.

P.J. Haarsma has done plenty to make that happen. A cameo in the film—while he was running a fever of 104—and an appearance at the Dragon*Con panel puts a face on the charity and gets it out there to the fans. Wonderfully well-spoken and passionate about the cause, Haarsma talked about the plans and prospects of KNTR. Denise, KNTR’s executive director, talked a little more about things like calendars, signings and appearances.

And finally, Mike and his misbehaving Browncoats extended a challenge and invitation to every single one of their fans to get involved.

A new feature will be launched on the Redemption website on October 1. Videos of stars such as Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Felicia Day and Ron Glass will be interspersed with those of fans, all saying simply ‘I am a Browncoat’. Think of it as a big patchwork quilt of fans and supporters.

Want to get involved? Grab your phone, your video camera or your webcam. Give your full name, and say in your best I Aim to Misbehave manner: “I am a Browncoat”. Upload the film to Youtube, Vimeo or Viddler with the tag #iamabrowncoat.

Maybe everyone is so excited because Browncoats: Redemption is a film by fans, for fans. It is also a good film in its own right, created by a dedicated cast and crew. Take a step, see for yourself. This is the first official trailer, and I think it speaks for itself.

Browncoats: Redemption Teaser Trailer from browncoatsmovie on Vimeo.

We’ll see you on the other side of the ‘verse.

Jaym Gates is a password-challenged intern with Fantasy Magazine. She writes about cold days, rainy nights, storms, the anti-hero, the villain and the sociopath and the Apocalypse. She blames this on growing up in a Native American burial ground and listening to ghosts too long. She can be found at her website.