In 2011, The FP, directed by Jason and Brandon Trost, debuted at film festivals, then I think went straight to DVD after a limited theatrical release.
It's about a near-future world where rival gangs fight over territory in Dance Dance Revolution style tournaments. The game is called Beat Beat Revolution in the film's world, leading to some fun, and juvenile, dialog referring to beat-offs.
Sometimes these are to the death, by the way.
As unbelievable as the idea sounds, it's a fun film. Especially for crowds or just a group of friends. The film plays it completely straight while being a comedic satire.
This is a film you either get, and it's a blast, or you don't, and it's just not going to be for you. Watch the first ten minutes. If you're not hooked after that, it's likely that you won't be.
Personally, I laugh a lot during the film every time I see it. It's one of those films that just sticks with me. It always makes me laugh out loud and I love the characters.
I've read a number of reviews of The FP. A lot say you'll love it or hate it. That's true. This isn't a film that appears to be middle-of-the-road for most.
The ones who hate it tend to focus on one main thing: the primarily white characters use the n-word a lot. These viewers are offended.
Most fans of the film who've commented on those critiques think the film is being misinterpreted. It's satire, but the viewers are taking it as seriously as the characters seem to be taking it, which is not the way to read it.
The film is satire. In almost every way, these characters are pretending to be something they are not. Especially in the language they use.
That said, any film is a unique experience for each viewer. Regardless of any intent on the part of the Trost brothers, they can't control how someone else interprets what they see. I understand the criticism, especially in the world we live in today.
If you can't get past that, then just don't watch the film.
As the years have rolled by, The FP universe has grown a small, very loyal, eager fanbase. This includes me.
Jason Trost set up a Facebook group called Omega Gangstas of the FP Cinematic Universe for the fans. It helps us live in that world almost every day. I don't think I've gone through a single day without seeing multiple posts of people sharing something cool. We're all excessively dedicated fans.
The fact that Jason Trost constantly interacts with everyone kind of blows my mind too. It shows that he's just as big a fan as we are, and he's overly appreciative and humbled by all of our dedication. And it does fuel us further on.
This is an extremely supportive group, too. Not just towards Jason and the FP universe, but with each other. There's absolutely no negativity there. All high-fives and appreciation.
One thing you will notice if you check out the Facebook group is the continuous stream of posts about ducks.
There is a line in the first film where the character KCDC is trying to get JTRO (Jason Trost's character) to come out of exile and return to Beat Beat to save The FP.
He's associating a lot of things with a news report about the ducks disappearing from the town's ponds. And if there are no ducks, there's no town.
Actor Art Hsu is just awesome throughout, but his delivery of this monologue and the passion he emits talking about these ducks made the duck the official mascot of this entire film franchise. So much so that future films would incorporate ducks as an integral part of the mythos.
It was an easy decision a number of years later to help fund the sequel, FP: Beats of Rage, when I happened to see a crowd-funding campaign pop up for it.
I forget if I had been following Jason Trost at the time or how I happened upon it. But I was in. I wanted more.
I don't know that the film played on a movie screen outside of film festivals. When I finally got my personal copy for my campaign contribution, it went straight from the package onto my screen to watch.
I was surprised by a few things.
It is a reimagining of the first in the same sense that the first Evil Dead film was re-made in a better way in Evil Dead II.
The first film is set in a reality that is pretty firmly rooted in our own. The sequel resets things into a dystopian fantasy future and amps up the satire quite a bit. Still all played super seriously, which just makes it funnier.
Seeing my name in the credits, along with the rest of the fans, makes me a bit proud, as well. Sure, I did practically nothing other than pre-order, but in that very small way, I feel like I helped make the film happen.
FP3: Escape from BAKO and FP4EVZ
Beats of Rage teased another film. FP3: Escape from BAKO was going to take the series further.
Then COVID happened. This caused Trost to become a bit more inventive and thrifty.
The filming process turned into one that relied a lot more upon green screen usage and post-production. That seems to have ignited Trost's creativity and enjoyment in making the films even more. Primarily, it simply gave him more control.
I lump FP3 and the following film FP4EVZ together because I see them as a single film. They are short. A little over an hour each, but visually and story-wise, they belong together.
As different as the world was changed between the original film and Beats of Rage, there's another visual and thematic shift with these later films. They are firmly in a fantasy, alternate reality now based upon '80s and '90s retro video games.
Beat-offs fuel not just battles now but spaceships and time travel. The FP universe is now truly a universe. And, yes, ducks still feature more prominently than ever.
A huge problem COVID presented to filmmakers was in how they could actually release a film. With theaters shut down, most decided to wait it out if they could. The only other option was online.
Yes, there were online festivals, but everyone was trying to figure it out on the fly.
Jason Trost, having an existing fanbase he was already plugged into, decided to create his own mini film festival around The FP.
The event itself is like a weekend-long party. FP movie viewings with commentary from the director and stars. Fan contests like coming up with the best original character, costumes, and re-enactments.
Drinking is encouraged but not enforced if you don't drink. There's even gamification around it. Attendees make their own wizard staff using empty cans.
Last weekend was the third festival. I've attended them all. This time fans contributed fake deleted scenes from the FP films.
It's just a blast to get to hang out with all the fans, Jason, Tallay Wickham, Art Hsu, and all the other actors and crew members, to share our love of The FP.
The event has the side-effect of having me talk like I'm in The FP myself for a few days after. My wife has to suffer through that, but I have to suffer her eye rolls.
I'm hopeful a future fest will be an in-person event because I truly believe it would be comparable to a weekend-long Burning Man festival, assuming each and every fan could make it.