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10 Reasons To Love. . . Fan-Made Films

Where would the internet be without fan-made films? Along with debatably trustworthy trivia-facts, identity theft scams, free pornography and seemingly endless film-critics (ahem), fan-made films are one of the World Wide Web’s oldest and most staple trademarks. Indeed, it’s a hobby / passion that has been revolutionised by the web, allowing fans to easily create and share their work to potentially millions Worldwide rather than just collecting dust on their VHS shelves and occasionally being revisited when unknowing friends were tricked into coming round for ‘film’ night.

So to celebrate this increasingly popular art I decided to create a list of my 10 personal favourite additions to the genre, in order no less. I had to trawl through hundreds and hundreds of (to be honest) teeth-gnashingly awful nominations to find these, so please enjoy and let me know if there’s something you think I’ve missed!

I give you 10 Reasons to Love . . . Fan-Made Films
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This won’t be everyones favourite fan film I’m sure but it does something for me that none of the others can. This far too short take on the Turtles mythology features April being attacked by the foot for sticking her nose where it isn’t wanted and Raph (of course) rescuing her. It’s shot only on the EOS 5D but it looks gorgeous. The direction is just right, the acting is perfectly good and the music and design is excellent. But it’s the costumes that impress the most. The creative adaptation of the foot’s uniform is superb for sure but it’s Raphael who blows this film away with his astoundingly well designed and built suit. Far surpassing the official movies designs – this is dark, toned, and yet still entirely identifiable. Made all the more perfect by the incredibly brief but gorgeous CGI (??) shot of his face in the final moments. A true triumph for fan films and if there’s any justice Richard Krause (the director) will be picked up by Hollywood any day now. It may help if they actually made information on the film more available on the net, as it’s incredibly hard to find anything about it.

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For me this was the film that made changed my life in terms of what a fan could accomplish. Sure Sandy Collara had a background in film practical effects so he had a head start, but regardless, this collision of Batman, Joker, Alien and Predators was proof back in 2003 that the internet was shaping up to be an incredibly exciting place to find amazingly cool creative output. Obviously predating Nolan, this is still the darkest and most graphic-novel accurate take on the Dark Knight and it’s shot with style and verve and wisely accompanied by the sensational Danny Elfman score. Collara has since gone on to direct the excellent Superman / Batman trailer World’s Finest and the great full length cult sci-fi film Hunter / Prey.

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A good friend of mine passed this on to me a month or two ago and it’s quickly become my most watched clip on youtube. Take your beloved childhood memories of SNES classic Star Fox and then re-invent it as only Wes Anderson could with stellar Fantastic Mr. Fox puppet animation and you have this absolutely spot-on fan made trailer. Honestly – this is probably the funniest thing I’ve seen all year but will only be properly appreciated by those who remember the games intricacies.

Fox : “I can’t barrel roll away from who I am. Maybe it’s finally time to stop taking the easy route.”

Peppy Hare : “Great. Let’s head to Sector Z.”

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This fan film made for a meagre £5000 and shot in Wales and Epping forest is without doubt the most impressive film in this list due to it’s incredible scope, run time (40mins!) and obviously amount of dedication, effort, and devotion. Amazingly it works superbly well with some watchable acting and excellently shot sequences including a brilliant fight scene where Aragorn goes up against a dozen or so orcs in brutal fashion. Only Gollum’s voice lets things down somewhat – otherwise I have to admit that I kind of prefer the way this is filmed to Peter Jackson’s version as it’s much more intimate and personal. Despite all of that and despite being the most impressive film on this list, it doesn’t succeed quite as well as my top 3.

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Remember the sequence in Gremlins 2 where they seize control of the film projector and then the audience is treated to a ten or so minute montage of them infiltrating numerous classic movies and shows? Well some delightful person stepped up and updated it for the DVD era and by god did they do an impressive job. The effect work here is astonishing and it’s just as entertaining as the original segment. It drags on a little by the end but it’s all worth it just to see Harrison Ford’s face as he uncovers the tomb of the Gremlin-rave! Genius.

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This is the film that kick-started the fan film movement when it was first released on the internet way back in 1997. A parody of the hugely popular tv docu-series Cops it combined gritty real-life visuals with authentic Star Wars sound design and costumes to create an hilarious and involving short that may seem a little dry by todays standards but still remains one of the most imaginative, professional and entertaining fan films to this day. It’s ingenious finale provides a deftly funny explanation for Episode IV‘s pivotal scene.

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Wes Anderson was, at one point, rumoured to direct the new Spider-man reboot. It sadly never happened so instead some lovely people made us this ‘what if’ trailer. Riffing almost entirely off RUSHMORE with an impressive Jason Swartchzmann lookalike, this is completely hilarious and just the right length to not outstay its welcome.

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Still in development so it’s impossible to push this exciting prospect any further up the chart. But this ambitious feature length film from Polaris Banks looks like it could be superb and the trailer hints at a gritty, dark, violent and 80’s style. Assisted by the original movies awesome soundtrack.

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Partly made in response to the awful Legend of Chun-Li film that came out a few years back, this short centred around Ryu and Ken having a fight in an atmospheric wood is slickly made and undoubtably the most impressive and accurate live action version of anyone in the Street Fighter universe so far. Sadly it’s still not perfect (Ken looks a bit too cartoonish for comfort and the sfx, whilst impressive, aren’t up to scratch) but as a Street Fighter fan it’s hard not to be excited and this really shows Hollywood that it can be done properly.

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A feature length Jason film? That’s right. Sure it’s cheesy, amateurish, has a horrible final twist and the opening drags on for-ev-er. But you have to respect this much dedication and effort because at the end of the day – this is only marginally worse than some of the official Jason sequels out there. Plus – Jason looks pretty great all things considered and any fan who can be bothered to make a feature length that’s actually remotely watchable gets a big hug from me.

– Al White