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Wind Up Geek’s Top Ten Takedown – Fan Films/Series

30 Jul

By James Robert Shaw (The Wind Up Geek)

In the past decade I’ve come to love fan films for what they are: shoe string budget movies made by people with big hearts for pop/geek culture. Gone are the days where our projects created from scratch (Hardware Wars) or joke dubbed (Ranma⅓) were distributed via VHS/Beta tape. With the  Internet era, it has brought to millions of us who speak Geekese, or if you will in Geekidiom, a whole new stage to show something cool to the world. Now we have places like Youtube and Vimeo to reach a much larger audience.


Before I wrote this article, I already knew what my favourite fan films were but I needed to broaden my horizon. My friend Ed once described me as a “Fallen Geek” and in a way that’s true. Although I’ve always claimed to be a geek there were years I lost touch with what it meant. So what did I do to solve this dilemma?  I hit Youtube of course (and Force Net helped). Over the past few days I’ve watched some awesomely creative fan films and I applaud their creators, writers, actors and crew for their hard work in producing such marvels. Sadly I had to keep the list down to ten. And I had to make a slight change. You’ll notice in the title that I used the word “series” (multiple films covering the same subject) and this was done because fan series are few and far between. Series, like stand alone films, need love and recognition too.

10. Bat-man: Robin’s Big Date! – (2005)

Director: James Duffy
Writer: Will Carlough

This fan film stars up and coming actors, Sam Rockwell (Moon) and Justin Long (The Sasquatch Gang). This short is a breakaway from what you would normally know about the caped crusader and his boy wonder.

When Robin goes on a blind date, he tries desperately to avoid Bat-man. Is Bat-man a concerned guardian or a creepy chaperone?


9. Fanboys – (2003)

Director: Peter Haynes
Producers: Hwei Ling Ow & Peter Haynes
Writer: Peter Haynes

I know what you’re thinking or maybe I don’t. Apparently I haven’t found a single shred of an internet word comparing the similarities of the Peter Haynes’ Fanboys to the Weinstein produced feature film of the same name. And that has me asking if anyone out there who wonders, in this instance, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Like the Japanese animated OVA Roots Search, the film Event Horizon, Jill Murphy’s Worst Witch and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, I find it too close for comfort.

If you haven’t seen the feature then I ask that you view Peter Haynes’ short first. I hope you’ll get more than a few chuckles from the cast’s performance.

Watch the film here.


8. The Injured Stormtrooper – (2006)

Director/ Writer: Brian Finifter

Have you ever seen a stormtrooper wounded? What does one do when a member of the Rebel Alliance leaves a Stormtrooper to tell the tale?

Brian Finifter’s very short Star Wars fan film is filled with so many good lines. Look for the potshot taken at Star Trek: Generations.


7. Joker Rising (Teaser Trailer) – (2013)

Director/Writer: Alek Gearhart

What you’re looking at is the origin story of the Joker, about who he was and how he came to be, one can have hunches. But it’s best to wait (and hope) for the film to be completed. Smoking Alien Productions have reached their financial goal and this money is being used to complete their project by the end of July 2013 with a possible release in August of the same year. I am skeptical of the money needed to finish their project because what Grayson produced earlier costed $18, 000. Joker Rising is attempting to prove what you can do with little to no budget.

Based on what I’ve seen thus far, Wow! I love the look and feel of this teaser trailer. It has a documentary feel to it and that’s a good thing. As the viewer, we get a more intimate setting into the origins of both the Joker and Harley Quinn. And the scripting is very intelligent. I’ll gladly devour every line as it’s delivered by a strong cast of actors. I’m not able to find any weaknesses in their performances. Katie Young is the perfect choice to play Harley and she is beautiful too. Her smile could drop a viewer’s guard until it was too late. And Dylan Hobbs jumps from strength to strength as he becomes Batman’s cold calculating foe.


6. World’s Finest – (2004)

Director: Sandy Collora
Producers: Darren Hicks & Simon Tams
Writer: Sandy Collora

Clark Bartram is the Batman, of that I have no doubt. There is a reason why criminals cower in the shadow of the bat and it’s not because he’s one with the darkness, Bartram’s Batman can seriously hurt you. And Michael O’Hearn comes off genuine as Clark Kent, the country boy/all around nice guy from Smallville. But reveal the big “S” and O’Hearn is all business as the superhero generations know and love. Why, oh why Hollywood do you not at least extend a little more faith to find up-and-comers who are better suited to the roles? Here are two of them right here.


5. Star Wars: Episode III – A Lost Hope – (2005)

Directors/Writers: N. T. Bullock & Eric Kohn

SW III: A Lost Hope is a cocktail of trailer park humour mixed with juvenilism. And what’s poured out is damn funny. Afterall it was a similar style of comedy that worked for the Trailer Park Boys for several TV seasons and 3 feature films. Though the fan film is intended to spoof a science fiction film of a similar name, there are many laugh out loud moments (including the preggers scene) provided here by writers Eric Kohn and N. T. Bullock. Many fans will cheer on Jar Jar Binks near the end for all the wrong reasons (or is that all the right reasons).

Watch the film here.


4. Troops – (1997)

Director: Kevin Rubio
Producers: Kevin Rubio, Shant Jordan & Patrick Pérez
Writers: Kevin Rubio, Steven Melching, David Hargrove & David McDermott.

I’ve been a fan of the series Cops since day one and it is the only show I consider to be reality television. Everything else is just garbage or scripted. At least with Cops it’s as it happens and the drama played out is real.

That being said the people behind Troops did a wonderful job of parodying Cops without being overly silly. It’s realistic feel, as incidents are played out, makes for a genuine entertaining short film. I would’ve loved to have seen a series spin-off as Imperial troops in different parts of the galaxy go about their daily jobs. But wait, they’ve already created something similar but with comedy created more by the characters than the situations they’re in. And that seriesis called I.M.P.S. – The Relentless.


3. Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager – (2006 – 2012)

Directors: Aaron Yonda & Matt Sloan
Producer: Courtney Collins

Watch as Darth Vader’s less than successful younger brother battle wits with the night shift manager while attempting to keep his own staff from forming a rebellion against him.

Empire Foods location shots were filmed at Madison, Wisconsin’s own Willy Street Co-op. Originally a TV series, this film project was cancelled after only two episodes and Channel 101’s loss was our gain. Chad Vader gained wider recognition through internet marketing and the fans knew a good thing when they saw it. I’m glad I was one of them. The rest as they say is history.


2. Batman: Dead End – (2003)

Director: Sandy Collora
Producers: Darren Hicks & Simon Tams
Writer: Sandy Collora

I never read the Batman Vs. Predator comic book but until I do this fan film will satisfy me. It has all the hallmarks of a moderately budgeted Hollywood film but somehow it comes off looking better than that. The costumes look professionally made, so I had to wonder whose studio they broke into. I have to say Clark Bartram would’ve made for a better Batman than Christian Bale. At least I don’t find myself rolling my eyes when Bartram delivers his lines from under the cowl. And even though there was a rushed delivery, Andrew Koeing made for a unique take on Joker. As the character with the ever familiar clown make-up, he creeped me out.

In the end I’ll say again that Bartram is Batman but Hollywood politics and money will almost always side with the box office name. Remember the whipsers that Arnold Schwarzenegger was picked over Patrick Stewart as Mr. Freeze for Batman & Robin (1997). That was one sad mistake.


1. I.M.P.S. – The Relentless – (2005)

Directors: Eric Hilleary, Nathan Pata & Dave Max, Producers: Dave Max & Caleb Skinner, Story: Eric Hilleary, Dave Max & Caleb Skinner.

IMPS (Imperial Military Personnel Stories) is a mockumentary series in eight chapters. Currently two chapters are available while the third to fifth are in production. It covers the adventures, antics and (sometimes sheer) boredom of the Imperial Forces living aboard the Revenge-class Star Destroyer Relentless out on missions throughout the galaxy. It’s as technical as much as it is entertaining. and perhaps those are the reasons why I can’t stop watching. I love good character development in film (Hollywood’s Casablanca is a prime example) and I.M.P.S. has plenty of it. Oh and did I mention the voice of Transformers’ Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) is doing the series narration?
Chapter 1: Davenport Gateway

Chapter 2: Norca System


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