A fan film is a film or video inspired by a film, television program, comic book or a similar source, created by fans rather than by the source's copyright holders or creators. Fan filmmakers have traditionally been amateurs, but some of the more notable films have actually been produced by professional filmmakers as film school class projects or as demonstration reels. Fan films vary tremendously in quality, as well as in length, from short faux-teaser trailers for non-existent motion pictures to full-length motion pictures.
Many prominent science fiction films and television shows are represented in fan films these include; Star Wars, Star Trek, Batman and Doctor Who. Because fan films generally utilize characters and story-lines copyrighted and trademarked by the original filmmakers, they are rarely distributed commercially for legal reasons. They are exhibited by various other methods, including showings at comic book and science fiction conventions and online distribution.
Until relatively recently, fan films operated under the radar of the commercial operations, but the explosion of fan productions brought about by affordable consumer equipment and animation programs, along with the ease of distribution created by the internet has prompted several studios to create official policies and programs regarding their existence.