FAN FILM FRIDAY: INTERVIEW: Julian Bane discusses "Doctor Who - Alternate Empire"

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REPUBLIBOT: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, we're here with Julian Bane, who plays The Doctor in the "Doctor Who: Alternate Empire" Fanfilm series. Julian, thank you for being with us today!

JULIAN BANE: My pleasure.

REPUBLIBOT: For those who haven't seen it yet, "Alternate Empire" is a kind of conceptual mashup between Doctor Who's "Whoniverse" and the Star Wars universe as well. Where did the inspiration for this come from?

JULIAN: Well... In 2008, I produced and starred in a stage production of HG Wells' THE TIME MACHINE... It was the first production of it's kind in the United States. After a successful run to standing ovation audiences... I wanted to tackle something in the film/video format for the web. I wanted something more solid than a stage production for others to view. Stage plays evaporate like a memory. I thougfht of doing The Time Machine as a web series... my version, but it would be costly.. so i than chose to tackle Doctor Who. The Doctor is by far the best character ever created. Why not give it a shot. As to Star Wars, I wanted the Doctor to go somewhere completely different than the actual series. For me, it needed to be different.

REPUBLIBOT: What era of the Star Wars universe does this take place in? There seem to be Sith other than Vader around, so is this before the prequels, or during the Clone Wars, or when?

JULIAN: It is in the period called The Old Republic era... as far as the timeline, it is thousands of years before what we know as the Star Wars movies. The main Sith Lord is Revan. This era in Star Wars is based on a video game known as KOTOR (Knights of the Old Republic). It has a rich history and it was perfect for what I needed.

REPUBLIBOT: What made you choose that era, specifically, as opposed to some other?

JULIAN: I wanted to be as far away from the films as possible. Using known film characters has too many pitfalls. It would be unjustly judged in comparison. I prefer to tackle something that no one has done before... It makes it more interesting. As far as I know, I have not seen Darth Revan in any films or shorts. He is a perfect fit to be the bad guy that the Doctor has to deal with.

REPUBLIBOT: There's two chapters presently online, how many chapters total will there be? Are they all filmed and in postproduction, or are you shooting them in sequence?

JULIAN: In total the story was first supose to be six 10 minute shorts, culmanating into one 1 hour episode. But in writing # 2 & 3, I stretched the storyline a bit and wound up with 40 minutes of material, all shot in the same production schedule. So now, to complete the full story, it will be 8 total episodes. Episodes 6, 7. 8, to be shot at a future date. In episode six, we tackle the Harry Potter universe and on from there.

REPUBLIBOT: The iteration of the Doctor you're playing here is pretty interesting. There's been some debate 'mongst the people I've shown it to as to weather he's a completely original incarnation, or if he's the eighth Doctor. Which is it?

JULIAN: Paul's portrayal of the Doctor was absolutely fantastic. No one needs to try and redo something that has been done right. I can only do my Doctor and that is difficult enough. I want mine to be original. I have not been cast in the real show but this is my attempt to be part of the best show in the world. I do kind of think I am coming off a bit like the first at times. But it's all accidental, it's just how I delivered my lines that day.

REPUBLIBOT: That's kind of a thankless task, of course. If you play an original take on the guy, people scream, and if you play an established version of him, people scream. I don't envy you that. What made you decide to go the way you did with him?

JULIAN: I play it ... the way I wrote him... He is his own Doctor. I did not want to imitate any of the others, it would defeat the purpose of me doing all this in the first place. When I was first writing the script and thought about the character... I thought about all that he has gone thru and how some of the things he has to do have just become very bothersome to him... like getting captured or being questioned, for instance. So I made him fight back. I hope that in writing him asa bit of a serious character does not backfire on me... because the Doctor must be loved above all else. In future Episodes, I will lighten him up and make him a little more quirky.

REPUBLIBOT: Dialog hints as a very well-established backstory between your Doctor and his Companion. How much of that did you have worked out before you started filming, and how much of that are we going to see?

JULIAN: I wrote a complete back story. These characters have gone thru alot together and that's where A. E. 1 starts... She has fallen in love with him and finnaly starts to tell him. I wanted this series to start like it was in the middle of a season and it was like you missed the first six. I believe it helps a bit in establishing him as an ongoing alternate reality Doctor Who show.

REPUBLIBOT: So how did you cast it? Casting is always difficult with fanfilms. Did you have any problems with that? By the way - this isn't really a question or anything, but I've got to tell you: Pretty much everyone on our staff is madly in love with Caroline Morahan. It's funny, the first three people I showed Chapter One to all had pretty much the same reaction when she first appears in the chessboard sequence: "Wow! She's got great hair!" Make of that what you will

JULIAN: She is absolutely fantastic and has great talent as an actress. Back in 09, I put an ad out for the casting of Samantha and did not expect much. Her manager contacted me and said that Caroline would be interested in auditioning even though my series was an independent web based production. I was surprised when I googled her name. She came in, read... and I knew she was perfect for it. The beauty was extra and she has it all. We had a great time shooting.

REPUBLIBOT: We're always fascinated by the technical stuff - how long did it take you to film? what kinds of equipment did you use? Did you have any interaction with other fanfilmakers? How big of a cast and crew did you have?

JULIAN: Episode one had it's own crew and was shot completely different. It was difficult and exhausting. The heat in the desert shots was 118 degrees in the shade. We shot all day... Much of it had to be scraped and cut out due to tech and other problems. Ep 2 was a much bigger cast... cost and prep. it took me 6 months to prep and build for it... Shot in HD and had better lighting. A friend of mine from the past named Chase White directed the last episodes so as to leave me free to concentrate on others production matters. It is very stressfull and expensive to shoot and I could not have done it without the help of my wife... Roxana Lissa. She is my angel.

REPUBLIBOT: That initial desert shot was pretty neat looking. We were beating our brains out trying to figure out where you shot it, and at least one of our guys was pretty sure it was in Spain until the factory shots started turning up. Where did you film it? Was it just a heretofore unused senic location, or did you find some way to make it look a bit different using filters or whatever?

JULIAN: The factory/base shot was done in an abandoned oil refinery near Ojai California... the closest thing to a deserted starbase that I could find. The desert in part 1 was in a dry lake bed near barstow California. We did use filters to help the shots look more like another planet.

REPUBLIBOT: I think the "Spain" thing probably arose from the excitement of there being an European fan film, mainly because there are so few of them. Why do you think that is?

JULIAN: Simple... because unless someone is willing to build sets, costumes, props,... write the script, act, light it, sew, get a crew, expensive camera, edit the film... have editing program, add sound effects, lighting effects and music... and pull it off as a decent film. It is close to impossible without an extreme amout of money. Point is, not many can pull it off. It requires a type of madness and focus.

REPUBLIBOT: Once this story is out of the way, will there be further adventures of your Doctor, or is that it?

JULIAN: I plan on doing as much as I can. For now... I want to expand my Doctor into the audio adventure world. There are a few in the works of which I will be part of. I am also collaborating with a good friend from the UK (Kerian Twine) and he is creating episodes based in Second Life. In these episodes, my Doctor will appear as a virtual avatar alogside his.

REPUBLIBOT: And that's all the time we've got to day. Again, I'd like to thank Julian Bane for speaking with us today.

YOU: The honor is all mine. Thank you.

REPUBLIBOT: His fan film is "Doctor Who: Alternate Empire" which is online here Definitely check it out!