Brian Flemming (born 6 June 1966) is an American film director and playwright.
Flemming was born and raised in California's San Fernando Valley, and studied English at the University of California, Irvine, graduating in 1998. Flemming immediately went to work as a script reader for New Line Cinema while also making his first feature film, the very low-budget Hang Your Dog in the Wind. Partly to promote his film, Flemming then co-founded a "punk" film festival in Park City, Utah, called “the Slumdance Film Festival”, a pun on the name of the Slamdance Film Festival (which in turn referred to the Sundance Film Festival).
Slumdance brought Flemming to the attention of the independent-film "guru" John Pierson, who had previously discovered Spike Lee, Michael Moore, Kevin Smith and Richard Linklater, among others. Pierson became a vocal advocate of Flemming and his debut feature, and he later hired Flemming to work as a director and segment producer for Pierson's Independent Film Channel magazine-style show called Split Screen.
After Slumdance, Flemming turned his attention from indie film to theater with what would eventually turn into an international cult hit: Bat Boy: The Musical. The unconventional stage musical is based on a story about a half-bat half-boy from the tabloid Weekly World News. Flemming co-wrote Bat Boy with Keythe Farley and Laurence O'Keefe. The musical grew from small beginnings in a Los Angeles theater called the Actors' Gang to winning the LA Weekly Theater Award for Musical of the Year Award for 1999, plus four Ovation Award nominations and six Drama-Logue Awards.
Bat Boy: The Musical made its way to a $1.75M New York production in March 2001, for which the play won the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical Off-Broadway and six Drama Desk nominations. The New Yorker described Bat Boy as a “giggling cult hit”. The New York Times wrote, “It is astonishing what intelligent wit can accomplish”. The musical ran in New York through December 2001 and has since been staged thousands of times throughout the world, including a major production in London's West End in 2004, and is published in several languages.
Nothing So Strange
Flemming caused considerable media controversy, not for the last time, with his second feature film, a faux documentary about the assassination of Bill Gates called Nothing So Strange. Even before its debut, media outlets such as Fox News and the Drudge Report condemned the film as outrageous for its premise. Bill Gates said through a spokesman that he was “very disappointed that a movie maker would do something like this”. Nothing So Strange debuted at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival to nearly universal critical acclaim. Variety called it, "a crackling good movie... [that] may be the ideal prototype film for the digital age". The film won the Claiborne Pell New York Times Award for Original Vision at the 2002 Newport Film Festival and received international media exposure throughout its long film-festival run.
On 23 October 2003 the film had a simultaneous debut in theaters and as an Internet download. It was released on DVD in 2004.
The God Who Wasn't There
In 2005, Flemming released his third feature-length film, the documentary The God Who Wasn't There. Throughout the film, he assails the Christian Faith under the guise of investigating the evidence for the existence of Jesus, concluding that it is highly improbable that the Christian savior ever actually lived. Then, Flemming discusses the beliefs of conservative Christian fundamentalists, Christian moderates (who, he argues, simply enable the fundamentalists), and returns to conduct an ambush interview with the principal of the fundamentalist Christian school he attended as a child.
Flemming launched three unusual media campaigns to support his biased documentary:
- In December 2005, Flemming's company, Beyond Belief Media, cheekily declared "War on Christmas" and sent troops of volunteers into the streets of U.S. cities to give away copies of The God Who Wasn't There. The stunt landed Flemming on Fox News Radio for the first of many appearances, where Alan Colmes interviewed him about his "war."
- In April 2006, Flemming, along with the Rational Response Squad (an internet radio show), began the "War on Easter" to “provoke conversation about the dangers of religious belief”. Participants were invited to place DVDs of the documentary or downloaded flyers in or near Christian churches and send in photos of these actions in exchange for DVDs. Flemming posted the photos on a website. Flemming himself planted videos in Los Angeles' Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and tricked Cardinal Roger Mahony into posing with him for a photo. In May 2006, Brian accepted the offer to discuss/debate the central thesis of his video with Christian apologist and blogger Frank Turk.
- In December 2006, Flemming and the Rational Response Squad started the Blasphemy Challenge, which called on participants to upload videos to YouTube in which they "damn themselves to hell" by making their own statement which must include the phrase: "I deny the Holy Spirit", thus committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The first 1001 users who did so received a DVD of The God Who Wasn't There. The Blasphemy Challenge was the most successful of the three publicity stunts, gaining coverage by Newsweek, NBC News, Fox News and many other media outlets, and actual participation by Penn Jillette, Richard Dawkins and Raël. In 2006, Newsweek magazine included Flemming on its list of America's Ten Most Influential Atheists.
In addition to working in film and theater, Flemming is an activist on copyright issues. He has released Nothing So Strange as an “open source” project, which means all of the raw footage that makes up the film is released without copyright restrictions for anyone to use. The final cut of the film, however, remains protected by copyright.
Flemming founded the organization Free Cinema, which encourages feature filmmakers to create films under two rules:
- No money may be spent on the production, and
- The film must be released under a copyleft license.
Flemming claims that filmmaking can now be “as inexpensive as writing novels” and that the copylefting practice is a way for new artists to gain notice and distribution in a marketplace dominated by large corporations. Free Cinema was inspired by the Free Software Movement, which is guided by similar principles of freedom. Flemming is also the owner and operator of Fair Use Press, which distributes e-books critical of public figures such as Bill O'Reilly and Arnold Schwarzenegger for their stance on intellectual property law.
During the 2007 Slamdance film festival, Flemming, who had been invited to sit on the festival's documentary jury, saw a demo of the video game Super Columbine Massacre RPG! and hearing about it having its nomination pulled by the festival's founder, convinced fellow jurors to award it a "Special Jury Prize" for Best Documentary (an unofficial award not endorsed by the festival). The festival's founder, Peter Baxter, later told Flemming that legal considerations prevented SCMRPG from receiving the award.
Between his major projects, Flemming has worked as a screenwriter-for-hire, composer/musician, journalist and photographer.
As screenwriter only
With Bat Boy:The Musical collaborator Keythe Farley, Flemming wrote the screenplays for: a planned MGM remake of the classic camp film Beach Blanket Bingo, the Bat Boy feature film (for director John Landis), and a 2000 episode of the animated TV series Rugrats. Flemming also wrote the screenplay for the sequel to Josh Olson's horror movie Infested. Flemming is a member of the Writers Guild of America, a screenwriters' labor union, and participated in the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike.
Flemming composed and performed the music scores for Nothing So Strange under the name Mary Rosh and for The God Who Wasn't There under the name DJ Madson. Flemming plays guitar, trumpet and keyboards on his music scores. He played guitar and sang as part of a 2008 April Fool's Day stunt  in which he pretended to have converted to Christianity.
As journalist and photographer
Flemming's still photography work has appeared in Newsweek, London Mail on Sunday, the Los Angeles Times and the L.A. Weekly. He has written articles for Filmmaker and Movieline magazines, and until 2008 maintained a daily personal weblog that often featured extended opinion essays on a variety of topics, including copyright law, freethought  and the exploitation of sex workers .
Flemming is interviewed on camera in the documentaries Independent's Day and Playing Columbine. To promote and discuss his films, he has appeared on CNN, NBC, ABC News' Nightline, and the Fox News Channel, which labeled Flemming "a young Oliver Stone." Profiles of Flemming have been published in the Los Angeles Times, the Austin Chronicle and Christianity Today. His work has been called "jaggedly imaginative" by The New York Times, "a parallel universe" by the BBC and "immensely satisfying" by USA Today.
- Hang Your Dog
- Split Screen at the Internet Movie Database
- The War on Easter Latest News
- The War on Easter How to Participate
- Santa Cruz
- The Blasphemy Challenge
- Free Cinema
- Fair Use Press
- Dugan, Patrick (26 January 2007). "The Breakthrough I Dreamed About". Retrieved 26 January 2007.[dead link]