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How one fan is making the Supernatural fandom documentary you really want

Longtime Supernatural fan Anna Campbell is a fan artist, fanfiction writer, and, now, a documentary filmmaker too.

The Supernatural fandom, currently one of the internet’s most vast and thriving fan communities, is the subject of Anna’s upcoming documentary, Wayward. And while Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, and Jared Padalecki receive their share of love from other peoples’ cameras, the 23 year old Toronto-based filmmaker intends to turn their lens away from the show’s actors, writers, and producers, and toward the fans who have developed a veritable outpouring of creative works through fanfiction, fanart, cosplay, role-playing, vidding, and shipping. Their film is currently in pre-production and raising production funds via an Indiegogo campaign.

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Image Source: Wayward Indiegogo 

Anna announced their film in the wake of much public backlash surrounding a more establishment Supernatural documentary, Supernatural Fan Movie, made by Clif Kosterman, Ackles and Padalecki’s personal bodyguard, and his brother Mitch Kosterman. Their movie is in post-production, and is also currently raising funds via an Indiegogo, although many fans feel the film is being made by people who are outside of fandom and do not represent fans — particularly fans of the Dean/Castiel slash ship — accurately or comprehensively.

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Image Source: Misha Collins' Facebook

Campbell, on the other hand, has no intention of shying away from slash shipping, or any of the other aspects of Supernatural fandom that make it a unique community.

Hear more about their plans for Wayward in our interview with Anna:

Worship the Fandom: The short film gave me chills the first time I watched it because it really felt like it was being made by someone who understood the Supernatural fandom community. How long have you been a fan of Supernatural and what does the show mean to you personally?

Anna Campbell: I've been in fandom for five years almost exactly, as I started watching the show just after season five had finished airing. And it's really been a huge part of my life since. I've made friends, lost friends, grown up and discovered myself. I've fallen in love and out of love and survived depression and suicide, all thanks to the support of people I've met here. I've met Supernatural fans in Ireland and Istanbul, and discovered their countries and cultures with them. It really is a place that feels like a family, as much as it can fight like a family too! Which is why I really want to give something back to it, like a photo album of sorts, so we can remember together where we've been and figure out where we're going, together.

WTFD: The short film is so good, and now you're expanding it into a feature. What topics are you looking to cover in the feature that you didn't touch on in the short?

Anna Campbell: Part of what really limited me with the short was my time and resources, as it was a school project that couldn't go over a certain run time and I really only could interview fans in my city, which was Ottawa at the time. With this feature-length film, I hope to be able to be more inclusive of all kinds of fans (especially in age range, as almost everyone in my short was between 18 and 22!), but I also want to expand the scope of the narrative.

I really want to explore Supernatural as part of a gothic tradition of action/adventure stories and all the tropes that come with that, in order to approach how fandom digests and interprets those things, because the fandom's response to elements of the show are what inspire so much of its creativity. I think it's important to understand how the show works on a cultural level first in order to understand how the fandom participates and reacts to that culture. Which is good that a feature-length film will give me more time to do all of that! 'Cause I'm gonna need it.

WTFD: At what point in the process are you in developing the feature? How can people most help the film at this point?

Anna Campbell: I'm ending the pre-production stage, I guess you could say. I have everything pretty well mapped out, and just need to get a hand on the last of the equipment needed to start shooting.

Which is why the best way people could help is really to just spread the word! I have several interview subjects already lined up, but of course I'd be happy for more, especially out of any fans planning to go to the Chicago convention in October! I really want to make this about the fans rather than actors involved in the show, but since conventions are great meeting places for fans from all over, it will hopefully be a great opportunity to hear many stories and thoughts from different corners of the fandom.

WTFD: The IndieGoGo campaign is going well. What will the funds ultimately be used for?

Anna Campbell: Mostly equipment cost and web and media hosting, as well as limited travel expenses depending on what interviews I am able to get. I've already spent over $700 of my personal money on this, mostly on equipment, but still I don't have everything. I want to make this film available to stream online for free when it's finished, which means I want it in good HD quality, and also hosted on a good streaming site that can support that. Turns out that's not exactly cheap! But I am trying to keep the project as low-cost as possible, especially since all the labour that's going into it is essentially volunteer-given.

WTFD: Many people are making distinctions between your film and the Supernatural Fan Movie, which is made by filmmakers coming from outside of fandom. Is it important to you that your film comes from within the community? Why should people support your film?

Anna Campbell: Yeah, it's really important to me that fandom gets an opportunity to represent itself. I love the Trekkies films for instance, but especially in the first one, fans and some of its less mainstream elements are really made into curiosities rather than appreciated as people with their own stories to tell. Slash fandom, for instance, is given one positive spokesperson from its community, and they chose to remain anonymous because of the attitude against it. This is from the fandom that pretty much invented slash! This was in the 1990s, but even in the second Trekkies film, they really brush over a lot of stuff like fanfiction and shipping that really are staples of any fandom.

I haven't seen the Supernatural Fan Movie, of course, but based on the trailer that got released and knowledge of those who made it (albeit limited), I doubt it is going to give much time to what in my opinion really makes fandom phenomenal and special: transformative works. And in Supernatural fandom, that is necessarily about slash (which, of course, is in large part due to the show's complete lack of main female characters, but I digress). I think it's really important in this case that LGBT and queer fans get to tell their own stories about themselves, because I know first-hand how much fandom has come to mean to us as a place of validation and exploration in ways we don't always experience from our favourite shows or even our outside lives.

I don't think it's fair to say I think people should support my film — I don't want anyone to feel obligated — but I do in all honesty think that I can do a better job representing the quirks and quarrels, diversity and divisions, criticism and creativity of this fandom with more attentive insight to the people that make it, i.e. the fans, because I am one of them.

WTFD: Supernatural fans will definitely watch this film and appreciate it. Can you tell me why someone who's not a Supernatural fan might be interested in it, too?

Anna Campbell: I hope to make it accessible to someone who's not in Supernatural fandom, and perhaps is not in any pop culture fandom at all, by contextualising fandom and the transformative works it produces in a broader cultural and historical context. I really want to show how fandom isn't just some trivial escapist thing — though of course using it for escapism is a totally fine way of approaching it — but rather, an active, vibrant community that creates culture as much as consumes it. Basically, I want someone like my dad to be able to watch it and be able to respect the complexities and passion of it, and hopefully understand someone like me, an ardent fan who does devote a lot of time (and yes, money) to this kind of stuff, a bit better.

You can find Anna on Twitter at @clockworkrobots , and find more information about the film at their website.

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