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Again in 2008, a music video landed on YouTube — then nonetheless largely in its infancy and largely dominated by newbie video footage — and triggered a little bit of a stir, amassing a cult following and 1 million views. Greater than 15 years on, the video has morphed — extraordinarily slowly — right into a full-length characteristic movie.

Chris Dane Owens‘ upbeat love music “Shine on Me” was already a catchy slice of rock with some heavy ’80s inspirations. Nevertheless it was the epic accompanying video — which he made for $70,000, no small sum in right now’s music video world — that proved to be the true hit, largely for squeezing into its 4 minutes virtually each clichéd trope and inspiration from fashionable swords-and-sorcery fantasy leisure. “The Princess Bride” options prominently, however then there are parts of “Xena,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Dungeons and Dragons” and plenty of, many extra.

Amongst a (snow-topped, presumably volcanic) mountain of gloriously tacky visuals — most made utilizing inexperienced display with the assistance of “Beetlejuice” and “E.T.” results legend Robert Brief — are long-haired heroes (together with Owens himself) on horseback, bodice-wearing honest maidens, slow-motion swordfights, evil witches witching in trios, good witches floating round in trios, fire-breathing dragons, frost-covered ice kingdoms, magic glowing books, exploding pirate ships, loads of capes, some kind of regal ball, a villain in a Dr. Doom-style masks and a complete load of lush inexperienced surroundings porn. 

If anybody ever requested the query, “What if INXS was actually into ‘Recreation of Thrones’?” this video certainly had the reply. 

For Owens — additionally an Emmy-nominated TV producer and son of the late radio, TV and voiceover performer Gary Owens — past simply residing out his personal love of the worlds created by J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman (“The Golden Compass” movie had simply come out across the time), the thought was to create one thing that audiences noticed as a film trailer. 

“I wished it to appear to be the trailer to a high-end fantasy movie,” he says. “Trailers pressure the viewer to place collectively the puzzle items themselves. So I assumed that placing it in a music video would do the identical factor and folks would puzzle their manner via it and have their very own tales and interpretation.”

The variety of these puzzling their manner via the “Shine on Me” video, or simply repeat watching in dumbfounded awe, rapidly grew. The primary ignition got here when it was talked about on the now-shuttered video-game centered G4 community, however only a month later, in December 2008, The New Yorker described it one of the best video of the 12 months, adopted by articles in The L.A. Instances and Wall Road Journal. 

“After which it actually began to take off, and firms similar to VH1 and MuchMusic in Canada bought in contact asking to get the HD model to placed on rotation,” Owens says. 

Nevertheless it wasn’t simply gaming or music channels that had been . “30 Rock” was on TV on the time, and Owens says that an assistant to the producers bought in contact asking for signed autographs, CDs and images for the staffers and execs, together with Tina Fey. “I used to be like, ‘Oh, you guys prefer it?’ They usually stated, ‘We find it irresistible. We watch it on a regular basis once we get caught creatively, as a result of there’s one thing about the best way it’s structured it type of encourages inventive response.’”

It was round then that discuss arose about really turning this pseudo trailer into an precise movie, an concept first sparked over lunch with an agent at CAA. “He stated, ‘Hey, that is actually cool, however have you ever ever thought of making a film?’” Owens says. 

As a lot as Owens cherished the thought, the funds was manner off what he might hope to collect. That was, till just a few years later, when an govt producer by the title of Kiki Koral got here into play and helped safe the primary little bit of funding. And so, what would finally change into “Empire Queen: The Golden Age of Magic” began taking form, with Owens, alongside his writing and directing associate Jason Schulz, taking the characters and concepts he had launched within the “Shine on Me” video and reworking them right into a fully-fleshed out characteristic.

“There’s clearly no dialogue within the music video, so the large problem was methods to take it and populate it with story and character arc and humor and dialogue,” he says. “We had quite a lot of enjoyable, as a result of we had to choose of what we wished to do tonally. In our funds vary, we couldn’t create one thing that’s heavy and oppressive and too dramatic, so I believe it will be higher if it had a twinkle, like a ‘Princess Bride’ or a ‘Harry Potter,’ the place there’s quite a lot of goofy, quirky humor alongside the best way. And as soon as we had our tone in thoughts then we had been off to the races.” 

And so, Owens’ gallant horsebacked hero turned Commander Jade Cross, a courageous English aristocrat out to “quell rogue magic and insurgent uprisings” alongside his trusty companions Montgomery Stirling (Captain of the Queen’s Fleet, no much less) and the mysterious masked “Royal Enforcer.” Like several good fantasy plotline, there’s a “kingdom in turmoil,” and a protracted, convoluted prophecy involving magical maps and keys. Stunning maidens seem virtually immediately, the primary casually studying a e book by the facet of a picturesque river on a sizzling summer season’s day.

With Koral’s preliminary funding, the workforce went out to movie what they might earlier than funds dried up, then used that footage to safe the subsequent chunk of cash. Owens gained’t reveal the full funds past it being “within the tens of millions” of {dollars}. 

Ultimately, after 100 days of shoots unfold throughout a number of years, “Empire Queen” was full. And now, 17 years after “Shine on Me” amazed viewers on YouTube, the characteristic size spinoff has landed on the web, first on Amazon Prime and shortly throughout varied different platforms similar to iTunes and Google Play.

The web world is clearly a really completely different and much much less harmless place to the way it was the mid ’00s, with 1000’s of hours of recent content material — a lot of it made with the express intention of going viral — uploaded every day. However Owens is hopeful that, like the unique video, the characteristic movie will discover its following.

“I at all times felt that [the video] was extra of a cult challenge with a loyal international viewers that basically dug it and bought what we’re doing,” he says. “So with the characteristic, I’m hoping that the identical type of cultish phenomenon occurs, the place individuals actually dig it and wish to see it on the large display, and watch it a number of instances with mates and simply have a superb time.”

See the trailer for “Empire Queen: The Golden Age of Magic” beneath.



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