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Alumni Achievements: 48HFPer's Dr. Who Fan Film Gets Attention Of Whovians Around The WorldThursday, September 21, 2017

Many young children dream of superheroes. Many aspiring filmmakers dream of making superhero films.

Few get the opportunity to actually make a film about their favorite superheroes and  sci-fi characters, but for Cleveland filmmaker Johnny Wu, it's become somewhat of a regular event. Outside of his 48HFP filmmaking, Wu has become the reigning king of fan films that feature some of the world's most popular characters from comics and sci-fi lore. But of his roster of fan film characters, none has gained as much popularity as his Dr. Who web series, T.R.A.C.E.

The series started out as a single short episode in 2014. Wu enlisted the talents of another Cleveland 48HFP filmmaker/actor, Donn Nottage, for the lead role as The Doctor. The solo episode was well received, and started to gain traction among Dr. Who fans (Whovians) around the world. Wu and his team launched an IndieGoGo campaign  to fund more episodes. The campaign was a success, exceeding their crowdfunding goal by 35%.  They raised enough funds from the IndieGoGo campaign and through donations of goods & services (including the loan of a life-size Tardis to use for the series) to complete eight more episodes over the next two years to complete the first full season of T.R.A.C.E. The popularity Nottage's performance and of the web series as a whole continued to grow, collectively reaching hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and Vimeo.

T.R.A.C.E. was as popular in the real world as it was online. It was well received at film festivals and conventions around the country. T.R.A.C.E. was an official selection at over 25 different events including Cleveland Comic Con, Wizard World, Neo Comic Con, The Indie Gathering, the Horror Hotel, the (Re)Generation Who Convention, and Seattle's Crypticon. The series was also the recipient of numerous awards, including a Pixie Award for outstanding work in Motion Graphics, Visual Effects and Animation, as well as a Telly Award.

watch the full Season 1 of T.R.A.C.E.

Since 2015, Wu started entering team of his crew  into the 48HFP.  Wu sees a lot of benefits to making a film as part of the 48HFP, especially as a training ground for the people that he works with on a daily basis. 

"The 48HFP is a great chance for people to learn different aspects of filmmaking in a very short amount of time. Plus, it's a challenge to make a film using the elements that are given." J-Crew has a unique process, where each person gets to work in a different role for two films each year (they participate in both the flagship 48HFP and the fall Horror Project). "So one year, you may get to direct two different films, and the next year you may be cinematographer, and the next year you might be a PA." For Wu, it's been an excellent opportunity to mold his team into a tight-knit and well-oiled filmmaking machine. 

The success of T.R.A.C.E. isn't hard to believe, given Wu's experience with and love of fan films. He previously directed a DC comic parody film called Joker's Card that actually crashed the computer server due to its popularity during the debut.  Wu also directed S: A Superman Fan Film, which caused him to get a lot of 'hate email' from Superman fans around the world when he notoriously killed off Lois Lane in the film.  Both films made the rounds at festivals and were the recipients of many awards. In addition, Wu's production company Media Design Imaging produces corporate videos and events for clients all around Ohio. 

Wu is currently in production for a martial arts comedy musical called Innerself. After that, he delves back into the world of fan films, tackling Spidey in  Parker: A  Spider-Verse Fan Film. And of course, team J-Crew will represent in next month's Cleveland 48HFP Horror Project.

Watch the full Season 1 of T.R.A.C.E. above, and learn more about Wu at

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