Nathan Fillion made his own Uncharted film. What’s next?
Timing. There are few elements more important to a successful fan film than timing. It is vital to launch when the iron is hot. Fan films also should pay attention to other factors. The audience should have this unresolved craving for the property. It has to be a clear homage/parody to the source material. And it should add something of value to the legacy of the characters. Few properties have desired like Sony’s Uncharted franchise. Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle) and director Allan Ungar took it upon themselves to make it happen. Does this mean that a future film is coming or does it all boil down to an expensive audition tape?
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune launched on the Sony PlayStation in 2007. It became one of Sony’s most successful properties with jaw-dropping visuals, a compelling story, and characters that felt like real actors. Kudos to developer Naughty Dog and success that lead to multiple entries in the adventures of Nathan Drake. In 2010, Sony announced plans to turn its successful Uncharted franchise into a feature film.
Stalled production and a Ferris wheel of stars have been all that has happened to Uncharted over the last eight years. One of the first duo to be attached to the franchise was director David O. Russell (American Hustle) and Mark Wahlberg. That was changed a year later when Limitless director Neil Burger joined the project and the script was being scrapped. In 2012, Burger was out and the National Treasure writing duo of Cormac and Marianne Wibberley were writing a script. The latest info comes from 2017 that mentions Spider-Man Homecoming star Tom Holland to play Nathan Drake for director Shawn Levy. They base it on the sequence in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception where we see the young Nathan Drake and his first encounter with long-time ally, Sullivan. A year later and even that idea seems like it won’t come to fruition.
All of this switching of actors and directors makes little sense to a fan of Uncharted. When the film idea was launched in 2010, so were the fan campaigns of Nathan Fillion as Nathan Drake. Fillion even got into it himself, asking fans to share the article about the movie news and his interest in it. Whenever there was a new article about potential actors to play the role, they always gave Fillion an honorable mention, if only because of how unlikely it would be that he would get the part.
This is where director Allan Ungar comes in. According to Inverse, Ungar first played the Uncharted game a decade ago like many fans. “I remember feeling, this is gonna change gaming,” Ungar said. “It felt like the apex in next-gen storytelling.” Ungar watched the news of the on-again/off-again movie and decided he would make it his next project. Shot over five days, the unofficial Uncharted film sprung onto YouTube and captured the attention of millions. Some prominent members of Sony subsidiaries also weighed in on Twitter. Vice President of Naughty Dog, Neil Druckmann and Sony’s Santa Monica God of War director, Cory Barlog shared their support for the short film.
Ungar wasn’t sure he could get Fillion interested in making the fan film. That all changed in 2015.
Enter the power of YouTube and fan film successes like Power/Rangers and Darth Maul: Apprentice. When Taylor Swift director Joseph Kahn released his R-rated, unofficial Power Rangers film, a shift began. Creators could use YouTube to create parodies and reach a large audience. Everyone was a huge fan of this alternate take of the Power Rangers except parent company, Saban. This was a direction they vehemently didn’t want for the franchise. Saban tried to get the video taken down as they were gearing up for their own feature reboot of Power Rangers, but once it hit the Internet, it was everywhere. It also caught the interest of Ungar. He knew once that came out. there was a way he could get Uncharted made.
Now that Uncharted has launched and entertained millions, what happens from here? Looking at Power/Rangers, the likelihood of this project turning into a feature film is slim. Power/Rangers director Joseph Kahn made more Taylor Swift music videos before his feature film debut Bodied made its debut in 2017. There might be some hope as Ungar has said, “If Sony… I actually got a couple emails today, I’m not gonna say from who, but there’s definitely people talking about what this could mean as a digital series or something further.” The most likely outcome from Uncharted will be that director Allan Ungar will use the publicity of the short to further his career into something bigger. Nathan Fillion will continue his television career with his new series The Rookie coming to ABC this fall. And an Uncharted film will continue to see delays until it either gets canned or releases. Fans should be satisfied that they got this glimpse into what an Uncharted with Nathon Fillion could be. Even if this is all that ever happens. Nathan Fillion said it best with his post of the fan film. “Thank you [Ungar], for letting us all scratch this itch.”