Adapting a source material and portraying it on the big screen has always been a long-standing tradition in Hollywood. Even with a big budget and an extensive set of tools, mostly Hollywood cannot bring justice in building a franchise which is worthy of its respective source material. As with any franchise, they come with a devoted fanbase who determine the course of their beloved character. Some of the passionate fans went as far as to pay homage to their beloved characters by giving them life on the big screen. Unlike Hollywood, the fans have to rely on their creative spark to paint them on the screen. We are counting down the list of top fan films on YouTube:
15. Born of Hope (2009)
‘Born of Hope’ is the longest fan feature on this list, exceeding an hour. This and another entry came out in the same year, and both the LOTR films served brilliantly to the fandom. This film takes place before the events of Peter Jackson’s trilogy and is based on the accounts narrated in the books. It revolves around Arathorn a Gilraen, parents of Aragorn and how the communities are affected by the power of Sauron and his armies. It was acclaimed by Tolkien fans for its low-budget aesthetics and loyalty to Jackson’s vision.
14. Venom : Truth in Journalism (2013)
When I first saw the poster for this fan film, it reminded me of the Belgian masterpiece ‘Man Bites Dog’. After watching it, nobody can deny the tribute this pays to Remy Belvaux’s docudrama, with the similar B/W cinematography, angles and character study. It covers a crew of reporters as they capture the daily life of Eddie Brock, familiar to comic book fans as Venom.The FX used in transformations are very well made, and the black comedy is spot on as well.
13. Power/Rangers (2015)
This franchise was part of every 90s childhood, a colourful representation of good vs evil, where the good always triumphs over evil. The fan made movie takes a darker turn towards this concept as the world of Power Rangers portray the repercussions of intergalactic war affect our multi-colored rangers leading to trauma and betrayal. Directed by Joseph Khan and produced by Adi Shankar, the man behind other fan films such as Punisher Dirty Laundry and Venom: Truth in Journalism comes up with an ingenious take on the virtuous heroes.
12. The Hunt for Gollum (2009)
‘The Hunt for Gollum’ is taken from excerpts of the LOTR books, and was never covered in the motion picture. It takes place before Frodo Baggins’s departure from the Shire to destroy the Ring. Gandalf sends Aragorn on a mission to uncover Gollum’s whereabouts, as the wizard fears the evil creature would inform Sauron about the Ring. It follows Aragorn, as he battles orcs and to travel into the darkness of Mirkwood.
11. Indiana Jones Remake, Shot For Shot
In the 80’s, three 12 year olds decided to remake Steven Spielberg’s ‘Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark’. While most may diss it off as a joke, considering the massive budget and expert technicians behind the original, these teens were able to successfully replicate it, to their own potential. Using real snakes and almost burning down their mother’s house, they were successful in replicating the movie in their own creative means as they dedicated their entire childhood in completing the passion project.
10. Severus Snape and the Marauders (2016)
‘Severus Snape and the Marauders’ is a reimagination of Snape’s decision to join the Dark Lord and become a Death Eater. His decision to turn evil because of the incessant bullying, and a duel with the marauders before the Dark Lord approaches him is shown. Snape was always depicted as a cornered terrified kid, and in this feature he unleashes his true powers on his victimizers. Though the movie doesn’t have the actors from the series, it does manage a very decent job of replicating the world of magic.
9. Batman vs The Terminator (2014)
The fictional city of Gotham invites a new enemy in and it’s none other than Skynet. This time the weather-beaten caped crusader teams up with the resistance to defend his city against machines. Mitchell Hammond takes cues from ‘Mad Max’ and ‘Escape from New York’ to create a post apocalyptic world illustrating stark imagery that captures the essence of a comic book. The short follows Batman infiltrating Skynet with hidden innuendos which pay homage to both franchises. The music composed by Noir Deco, just adds to the already perfect world in depicting one of the most epic mash ups in the history of fan fiction.
8. TIE Fighter (2015)
Star wars meets anime in this short as the creator Paul Johnson took seven years to create a scintillating cel infused world to come to life. Painting one of the relentless space battles between the rebels and imperials on the screen, we follow a special task force of imperial pilots as they weave in and out of red and green sparks to obliterate the Resistance. This movie pays homage to not only star wars but it’s also reminiscent of the 80s mecha genre which played a crucial role in advancing cell animation.
7. Our RoboCop Remake : Scene 27 (2014)
The 80s spawned many classics and RoboCop was one such movie that set a benchmark in the cyberpunk genre. When nearly fifty individuals and groups of filmmakers come together to remake every scene of this classic,adding a little of their own twisted humour. The movie turns into a ridiculous R rated spoof of the original. Although the cult classic is torn apart with its slapstick elements, they were successful in paying homage to the original.
6. Spawn : The Recall (2014)
Todd MccFarlane’s Spawn is a very popular name amongst the list of the most iconic comic book antiheroes, and is also known to cinema enthusiasts for that disappointing live action adaptation in 1997. In 2014, Michael Paris shot what he thought would be an interesting character introduction for the Devil’s soldier. This fan film follows an ex-witch and her son in a supermarket, and her discovery when her son goes missing. The special effects may not be extraordinary, having been executed on a low budget but the atmosphere surely is and I believe McFarlane who’s making a new Spawn film can take a few pointers.
5. The Punisher : Dirty Laundry (2012)
After a booming defeat at the box office in 2004, nearly a decade later, an unofficial sequel was funded and produced by a fan none other than the man who played Punisher himself, Thomas Jane along with Hellboy (Ron Perlman). Thomas Jane described his short to be ”a love letter to Frank Castle and his fans”. It was the movie the fans deserved and depicted Punisher in his prime form as the movie turns into a glorifying blood fest when a bunch of hoodlums decide to commit crime on the same day that Frank castle does his laundry. The movie has a very satisfying build up which ends up into a one sided massacre. With a series of fast cuts and a good amount of bone crushing, the action sequences were right out of the source material.
4. Darth Maul : Apprentice (2016)
The only salvation from the Phantom Menace was the Darth Maul fight, who barely had any screen time before he gets chopped into half and gets thrown into a void(Palpatine style). The fans breathe life into the red horned Sith by giving him his own film as he deftly swings his staffed lightsaber, annihilating not one but five Jedi who stand in the Sith’s way. The movie did justice to the the character by giving him the screentime he deserved.
3. Judge Minty (2013)
A world where crime runs rampant, it is left to the Judges to serve justice. After the success of Dredd, John Wagner, a fan created an unofficial crossover that follows a weathered out Judge Minty who deals with retirement as he strides through the desolate wastelands outside Mega city One. Balancing out the action and the depiction of its themes about old age and anarchy, the short film was successful in portraying a grim outlook to its cyberpunk world like it’s predecessor and the source material.
2. Troops (1997)
The much loved Stormtroopers are back in a mockumentary which shows them going about their daily adventures on Tatooine in a ‘Cops’-esque fashion as they run into some well known characters. As the events of the A New Hope progress, the director Rubio throws in several gags and even goes as far as to alter the fate of Luke Skywalker’s uncle and aunt, making a rather tragic scene into a comical one as it is reduced to a domestic dispute gone too far. Shot in 1997, the short movie kick-started the modern fan film trend as this was one of the first shorts to get distributed over the internet.
1. Batman : Dead End (2003)
Before the Dark Knight series, the Batman was a running gag in Hollywood with the character’s lethargic depiction in movies such as ‘Batman Forever’ which starred George Clooney and the infamous nipple batsuit that left Bob Kane fuming. One movie that came out between these two time-frames was ‘Batman Dead End’ which premiered at the San Diego Comic Con. We see the Caped Crusader collide not only with his arch nemesis – The Joker but he goes head to head with not one but two of the most fearsome monsters that redefined the monster franchise – Alien and Predator. Directed by Sandy Collora, the movie was made on a budget of $30000. It gained a massive cult following as it threw the Batman fans into a frenzy including Kevin Smith and Alex Ross who believe that this short film is one of the essential representations of the Batman.
Read More: Best Short Movies