Doctor Who superfan Cameron K McEwan has been running the popular news/reviews/opinions website Blogtor Who since May 2008. Last year Cameron‘s first book, The Who’s Who of Doctor Who, was published and his charming and affectionate Doctor Who documentary, Who’s Changing, was recently released on DVD. STARBURST caught up with Cameron to find out more about the documentary and about his devotion to all things Time Lord…
STARBURST: How did the Who’s Changing project come about and was it always the plan that you would direct the film?
Cameron McEwan: It came about over lunch with a producer friend of mine last year, who’s also a massive Doctor Who fan. We’d just finished working on a web series together and started thinking about what to do next. Being the anniversary year we thought that a documentary would be a good idea. I’d wanted to explore the changing face of Who fandom, particularly the seismic shift in recent years. It’s fascinating to me. I grew up not really knowing any other Who fans at all. Compare that with now where everyone loves Doctor Who (well, almost). But it’s the rise of the female fan which is most interesting. In Who the female voice has often been overshadowed (and, to a certain extent, still is) and this was a way of exploring that dynamic.
How did you select your subjects/victims for interview, i.e. both the fans and the professionals?
Initially, we drew up a “hit” list, based on events and conventions that were coming up. I’m in the lucky position of knowing a few people involved in Who (past and present) so we already had an “in” with some of the talent. Some, however, were opportunities that presented themselves on the day. James Moran is the perfect example of this. Bumped into him at a comic convention. Great interview too, lovely guy! But most of the big names were planned.
The fans were just people we met on the day. We interviewed a lot of fans and there wasn’t enough room for everyone, sadly. So it was mainly down to availability and our ability to get to them. Once we broke our fundraising goal, we then went looking for some really big names though this proved to be fruitless.
The film looks at the development of Doctor Who as a series and the way it has been appreciated over the years and is split into distinct ‘sections’. Was this the plan for the film from the start or was it influenced by the material you gathered from your subjects? How much preparation was involved before you actually started filming?
Having studied documentaries during my degree, I wanted to take out any kind of voice guiding the film, or prejudice any arguments. We initially discussed having me present it but the wealth of material and our fantastic interviewees, I was not needed. Something I was very happy about! We had some ideas before we started filming but these changed as the interviews came in. We knew some things had to be covered from the get-go (the start of fandom, for example). Dealing with “crossplay” is something that wasn’t thought about until it became an issue with our guests. It was new to me. Being slightly experienced in film-making, we were prepared for change. Always have a backup plan and be ready to roll with the punches. Thankfully our punches were touches of genius gifted to us by our subjects that made us think about fandom in other ways.
Over what period of time was the film made?
We started in February and finished September 2013 - I think. Though we chucked in some footage we’d shot from a convention in late 2012. Actually, there’s also some footage from the Official Celebration. So there’s stuff from November in there too. We’d almost finished the edit by that point though.
How involved have you been in the practical side of the production of the film, i.e. financing, distribution, retailing, publicity etc?
I was involved across the board, to some extent. My brilliant producer Elisar Cabrera did a great job in selling the film to online stores and actual physical stores (they still exist) and also setting up the website (whoschanging.co.uk). I was on the front line with him, as it were. I took DVDs around stores in London and helped ship them all off to our lovely fundraisers. Like Elisar, I was involved in the design of the DVD, working with the fab artist Grant Perkins on the cover, back cover, etc… All those things needed attention. So, I would say I was quite involved in every aspect.
Why should Doctor Who fans buy Who’s Changing?
It’s a genuinely interesting story, with a number of brilliant people, both fans and those directly involved in making Doctor Who, chatting about the show they love. There’s a whole world of fandom that many people probably don’t know anything about, and I hope that we go some way to demonstrating the remarkable guys and girls out there. Fans will also see just how actors and writers love and admire the fans. It’s heart-warming.
How long have you been a fan of Doctor Who and what are your earliest memories? Which are your favourite stories and, of course, who’s your favourite Doctor?
My earliest memory is the cliffhanger to City of Death part one, the reveal of Scaroth. Utterly emblazoned on my mind. That season was very vivid for me for years and I spent years, so many years, tracking down Nightmare of Eden. That story horrified me as a child. Eventually got it, taped off UK Gold in the mid-Nineties. Quite the revelation.
You’ve also written a book, The Who‘s Who of Doctor Who. How did that come about and was the writing a process you enjoyed?
I have a few friends who are trying to get books published and they all asked me how I did it - how I went about pitching to the publisher and exactly what the process was. I annoyed every single one of them by telling them I received an email from the publisher asking me to write The Who’s Who of Doctor Who. It was that simple. The hard bit, of course, was actually writing it.
Regarding the show generally; do you think the BBC did the show justice in its fiftieth anniversary?
I think BBC Worldwide did a super job in celebrating Doctor Who in 2013. From those beautiful stamps to those unforgettable three days in November at the Official Celebration, the team involved were impeccable and truly gave fans another avenue to celebrate fifty years outside the television adventures. I would certainly say that BBC Worldwide unquestionably did Doctor Who justice in its fiftieth anniversary.
The Blogtor Who site remains hugely popular and informative. What motivated you to start the site in the first place and how do you see it progressing/developing?
Well, thanks for saying. I was running another site, which was just a blog about TV and anything else I felt like chatting about, when it became apparent that I was writing about Doctor Who quite a lot. And I thought that maybe for the visitors not interested in Who, then my site was becoming a tad annoying. So it was really an offshoot of that (which I stopped updating years ago). As for the future, who knows? Like everything in my life, I don’t have a plan or development ideas. It is what it is.
Are you planning to direct any further projects?
At the moment we’re planning on getting the film out to various festivals and the like, trying to spread the word. I’m now writing another Doctor Who book so my time will be focused on that. I’d love to direct again though. I love meeting people with a story to tell.
How do you think the 21st century version of the series compares with the ‘classic’ series and what do you think of the show at the moment?
Good question. When Who came back in 2005 I couldn’t have been happier. I loved it so much, much more than I did when I was a boy. And I should say, I was known for years as being THE Doctor Who fan. Supporting it through the “wilderness” years when being a fan was looked upon in the most sniffiest of fashions. There was an emotional core to the show on its return which, for me, wasn’t present before. That was the gift of Russell T Davies to Doctor Who. Chris and Billie were so good together and, to be honest, I couldn’t have imagined just how good it was still going to get. Series Four is when I loved Doctor Who the most. Midnight, Turn Left then The Stolen Earth - my favourite run of episodes. My fondest memories of the show and my own excitement.
At the moment, Doctor Who is still a very popular television show. I’m constantly amazed at how adored it is around the world. Makes me feel very happy.
What are your own personal long-term ambitions?
Crikey. There’s a question. I’ve no professional goals when it comes to writing, acting or anything like that. Probably where I’m going wrong. I’d really like to be happy. Just happy. That’s all.
Cameron’s book THE WHO'S WHO OF DOCTOR WHO and the DVD WHO'S CHANGING are both available now. Check out www.blogtorwho.com for further details.