Filming on the independent project began in August 2004 and continued, mostly on weekends, through January 2006. Music, visual effects, editing and other post-production work took the project to October 2008, when the final draft was completed. Screenings began in mid-2009 at various theaters and film festivals across the U.S. and also in Germany, and on December 14 the movie made its worldwide online premiere on Dailymotion.com.
But this story doesn’t have a happy ending. Little more than two weeks after the movie appeared online, it disappeared thanks to Nintendo’s legal department, which pulled the plug on the unsanctioned project effective January 1.
“We just wanted to let you know that Dec. 31 was the last day that The Hero of Time was available for viewing,” the producers wrote in a message posted on theherooftime.com. “In the spirit of the holiday season they were good enough to let us keep the movie up for you to watch and enjoy through the end of 2009, but not past 2009.”
“We understand Nintendo’s right to protect its characters and trademarks and understand how in order to keep their property unspoiled by fan’s interpretation of the franchise, Nintendo needs to protect itself – even from fan-works with good intentions,” they added.
The team said it “felt a real sense of peace” about bringing the project to a close and added that it hoped the film, despite no longer being available, would be an inspiration for both hardcore Zelda fans and other aspiring filmmakers. It’s a remarkably sanguine attitude for folks who have just been slapped around by the mailed fist of copyright law; on the other hand, “no longer available” can be a pretty flexible term when it comes to the internet.