Can’t wait until Saturday for a new actor to take over the title role on “Doctor Who”?
Then go online and see a new Doctor — and some familiar surroundings that include the streets of Old Salem.
The Winston-Salem Journal is reporting that some enterprising local fans have created their own “Doctor Who” fan film and plan to turn it into a series titled, “Doctor Who: The Ginger Chronicles.”
The first episode, “A Dame to Kill,” was filmed early this year and posted on YouTube in July. The 33-minute film has been viewed more than 1,100 times.
Because of the response, the filmmakers are now gearing up to make five more episodes.
The fan film premiere comes shortly before Peter Capaldi takes over the “real” series, with his first full episode being broadcast Saturday at 8 p.m. on BBC America.
The idea for the fan films came after actor Matt Smith announced last year that he would be leaving the BBC television series.
“It was not long after I did my first little film short, which was a Civil War reenacting recruitment movie,” said director/writer Steven Hancock, 30, a member of the Southern Piedmont Historical Reenactment Society.
He is also a longtime fan of “Doctor Who,” a British sci-fi series that has run off and on since 1963 about a time-traveling adventurer.
“After doing that film, I thought ‘Hmm, I really enjoy filmmaking, I’d like to do that some more,’ but didn’t really have an idea,” he said.
After Smith announced he was leaving the show, Hancock’s friend Lilly Nelson, 31, an actress who grew up watching the show, joked on Facebook that she would love to play The Doctor after Smith.
“That gave me the idea,” Hancock said, “so I emailed Lilly and asked her, if I write this ‘Doctor Who’ fan film script, would she be interested.”
They raised about $700 through a campaign on IndieGoGo.com, and Hancock spent about $1,000 of his own money to make the film.
At the time, Hancock was working at Old Salem, and he got permission to shoot a few of the scenes there. He even made a cameo appearance as a drunken night watchman in Salem in the 1700s.
Other scenes were shot in the woods behind Nelson’s parents’ home in Germanton, at the house of a friend in Greensboro, and in Hancock’s neighborhood in southern Winston-Salem. There’s even one sequence in England, thanks to a friend who shot some footage there while on a trip.
In the next month or so, Hancock, Nelson and their collaborators plan to begin a new fundraising campaign, with an eye toward filming the second episode this December.
Hancock said he has plenty of ideas swirling for the series, including an episode that would make use of his connections in Civil War reenactment circles.
Monte Hampton and Rebecca Larken co-star as two Earthlings who befriend The Doctor, and Miles Snow guest stars in the first episode as The Master, one of The Doctor’s rivals who has appeared many times on the TV series.
Since the three lead actors all live in the Raleigh area, the second episode will be largely filmed there, Hancock said. Later episodes will be shot in various locations in the state.
“I think every sci-fi geek has watched ‘Doctor Who,’” Nelson said.
Fan films of sci-fi shows have become increasingly popular in recent years. In most cases, the studios don’t object as long as the fans aren’t trying to make a profit.
“Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery,” Nelson said. “You can tell that Matt Smith is just having a ball when he’s playing The Doctor. And I tell you now, the days I was out on set I was happy to be on that set and to say those crazy words, ‘I’m The Doctor!’”