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This Futurama fan film used stunning visual effects to create a live-action dream world

Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

Television producer Dan Lanigan has always been a huge science fiction fan — and especially a fan of Futurama. So when he decided to produce a fan film of the cult animated comedy set in the 3000s, he wanted to go all out: He decided to make his film live-action.

With a group of industrious friends, including recent Oscar-winning animation effects producer Martin Meunier, Lanigan and his production company, Cinema Relics, went all out to bring the zany, colorful world of Simpson creator Matt Groening’s other irreverent animated social satire to life.

With the goal of bridging the look between the real world and the animated series, the production team worked to achieve an eerie verisimilitude — where the "real world" looks like animation instead of the reverse. To achieve this, the crew used only practical — real, non-computer-generated effects — instead of CGI.

The result, Fan-O-Rama, is kind of stupendous. The trailer above gives us a wonderful look at what’s possible when you are fans with time, film professionals, and a hefty special effects budget at your disposal.

In the trailer, Philip Fry — the hapless delivery driver — and his futuristic pals have unlikely adventures and mishaps. The gang’s all here — specifically eerily lifelike renditions of the ancient Professor Farnsworth, Leela (the woman with one eye), and Bender the robot.

It’s not clear what the plot is, and the film’s website isn’t very forthcoming, either, but apparently there will be only one privately financed episode of the film.

Why Futurama? As the producers put it on the site, "No other show/movie/breakfast cereal offered the complex combination of characters, story, setting, and creative breadth that would allow us to explore the uniqueness of the human condition and societal mores and social structures pertinent to our modern sensibilities while also featuring a creepy lobster-squid monster."

Equally impressive is how much love and care has clearly gone into this production. Even the poster looks like a movie we want to see:

With so many recent professionally produced "fan films" emerging in the world of sci-fi and fantasy — like the controversial Star Trek fan film Axanar currently causing a stir among pros and fans alike — it’s easy to wonder if the sense of a "fan film" as an "amateur" production is being lost.

Then again, if fans with expertise and production value want to make cool free stuff for the rest of us, and the results are this much fun, who are we to complain?

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