Nathan Fillion Online
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Fillion paired with Canadian director Allan Ungar to fund and produce what is known as a “fan film,” a movie featuring pop culture properties that has no official connection to its source material’s copyright holders — in this case, publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment and developer Naughty Dog. It was made solely out of the pair’s love of the Nathan Drake character and a desire to create the movie they — and apparently millions of others — had long wanted.

Post Arcade had a chance to chat with the duo in San Diego via phone for a few moments before the doors officially opened at Comic-Con on Thursday morning. Humbled by their film’s initial popularity, the pair talked about how their movie came to be, the similarities Fillion sees between himself and the character of Nathan Drake, and whether this little fan film was just a one-off or if it could potentially grow into something more.

Nathan Fillion: I think like everyone else we just got tired of waiting. Allan, how did you decide to pull the trigger?

Allan Ungar: I’ve been a huge fan of the franchise for as long as long as I can remember. I always thought, why is nobody doing this? Why has nobody approached Nathan and tried to do something? We’d been seeing a lot of these really well produced short films — “fan films,” as people have been calling them, where filmmakers and fans came together to give back — and this was something that I had really been wanting to do. Nathan and I had a mutual friend, a producer in Toronto, who put us in touch. We had some vegan Thai food, I pitched Nate on what I wanted to do, what was going to be different, and ultimately we shook hands and agreed to do it. We began working backwards from Comic-Con.

Post Arcade: Did Naughty Dog even know that you were making it?

Ungar: The crew didn’t even know we were making this.

Fillion: [Laughing) Yeah, nobody knew.

Post Arcade: And have you received reactions from anyone at Sony or Naughty Dog?

Ungar: Four people from Naughty Dog have responded to it with praise, which is really great. The original creator of the game, the current vice-president and director of the last game, the former president, and one other. They were all very pleased with it.

Fillion: That makes me so happy, too. Because you really want to please the fans, but if you please the creators? I think that means Allan has done something very right.

Ungar: I found out the creator of God of War had also been tweeting about it, saying it made his day. And the guys at Blizzard are apparently passing it around the office. I’ve been hearing a lot of cool things all week.

Post Arcade: Alan, can you explain a little about the business — if it can even be called that — of fan films? Where does the money come from, and is there any expectation to profit?

Ungar: When you do something like this the intention is to not profit. That’s the whole point. The point is to give something to the people, to the fans, to those who are inspired by this kind of material, who are passionate about it. It’s always something that’s self-funded, something that you’re driven to do out of passion. There was certainly no financial motivation for Nathan, and none for myself. It was a story we really wanted to tell.

Post Arcade: Nathan, did you see instantly yourself in the character of Nathan Drake the way others did?

Fillion: The similarities were not lost on me. Both in how Nathan Drake looks and his name. And in his Malcolm Reynolds-y attitudes and characteristics. He is the Indiana Jones of our generation. We’ve needed this, and we’ve wanted this, and here he is. He excites me the way he excites all the fans. He’s obviously striking a chord in the hearts of millions, and I’m one of them.

Post Arcade: How were you introduced to him? Did you play the game when it first came out?

Fillion: I sure did. I played the first game. I started the second game, got stuck and never went back. I skipped the third game, and I’m currently playing the fourth.

Post Arcade: The film feels like a level from one of the games — especially the splendid third-person action choreography — and it even ends with a lovely cliffhanger that would seem to set the stage for the next level, or another episode. Will we get a second episode?

Ungar: (Laughing) That question is getting asked more and more every day. There was never any specific or concrete plan to continue it. It was really just a tribute. It was a love letter. Nathan’s got The Rookie coming up, he’s a busy guy. And I have a few commitments as well. If it came together and the stars aligned and there was an opportunity to discuss or pursue it, I think we’d be happy to have the conversation. It’s been trending and going viral now for a few days, and my phone’s been blowing up with people asking how they can see more. I really didn’t expect this.

Post Arcade:If a studio like Sony approached you to expand what you’ve done into a full blown feature film, would either of you be interested?

Ungar: It would have to be done right. It would have to be done under the right circumstances. It would have to fit in someone like Nathan’s schedule. Right now we’re really happy with this living and dying as a short film. We kind of set out to do this one thing, and we feel really proud of it.

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