…in Backyard Blockbusters, director and fan film maker himself, John E. Hudgens, introduces us to these uber nerds and geeks that have a passion for these things beyond that of your usual San Diego Comicon attendee.
I’m familiar with the idea of fan fiction and fan films, but I didn’t realize how vast and numerous the genre truly is. Batman vs. Predator was made into a movie? The are people out there that have been filming further seasons of the Original Star Trek – for the past seven years? Some teenage kids remade Raiders of the Lost Ark – shot for shot? Ok, I knew about fun shorts like Troops, and George Lucas In Love, but this? Wow, I am clrearly not the nerd I thought I was. I’m barely a novice in comparison. But in Backyard Blockbusters, director and fan film maker himself, John E. Hudgens, introduces us to these uber nerds and geeks that have a passion for these things beyond that of your usual San Diego Comicon attendee.
So when you watch John’s documentary Backyard Blockbusters, you’ll find that fan films have been aroudn for a long time. Like, the 1930’s. it’s pretty impressive. I guess there’s a degree of logic, though. For as long as there have been fans, and the technology of moving pictures, the fan film has been around. I’m rather amazed, however, at the length some fans will go to make these things.
I had no idea that a bunch of teens had remade Raiders of the Lost Ark shot for shot. It took them like, eight years or something and obviously they age throughout shooting it. And they even shot the giant boulder scene- – with a giant round boulder. And the scenes of the building burning down. Somebodies’ house or garage was put in great danger, not to mention the kids themselves – they used gasoline! It is truly a monumental feat of amatuer film-making, and a testament to the lackadaisacal parenting of a time before the media-fueled stories of child endangerment. But most of all, it is a testament to a level of passion for the things geeks and nerds love and what that passion can create.
The list of names I could rattle off here is easily too long but safe to say, all these people that created and/or labored in some way over any of these amazing fan films are to be commended for their love and passion for their creations. Many of them work in the film industry in some form, be it editors, special effects people, or artist/illustrators. But some are just people that love something so much, they chose to spend their hard earned time and/or money on filming something of their own based on another film, TV show, or comic book. Some people might find them a little crazy, if not at least eccentric, And who knows, maybe some of them are. When you hear about the things they did to make their fan film, it may well be proof of that. But the end result is so damned entertaining, who cares?
Dan Poole si one of the many fan film makers, and he made The Green Goblin’s Last Stand back in 1992. Dan wrote and directed this, and starred as Spiderman/Peter Parker (the hair!). Dan tied ropes to various places on buildings like, four stories up and swung aroudn from one side to the other – without any nets of safety lines! He was just a ballsy kid with no sense of fear. Or logic. But what the Hell, he was making a video to market himself to the industry; or to the therapist community, but nonetheless, this fan film is remarklable to watch.
The Pink 5 series is hilarious. A valley girl as an rebel x-wing pilot. The Batman: Dead End short that looked almost as good as any Hollywood film – but for about $ 30,000. And then there’s James Cawley and team that have been shooting Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II – for seven years! I’d heard of people filming Next Gen spin-off stuff because a friend of mine has all of those fan films. But this show has even had George Takei and Walter Koening, among others, from the OST on it. Even some writers and directors that have done various Trek shows have been involved. Are are the other characters played by different actors? Or course – but they stay true to them and the spirit of the original show. Now I want to seek them out and watch them.
And all this effirt is not entirely in vain. Sometimes the Hollywood industry takes notice. Spielberg and Lucas both saw and loved The Raiders Adaptation. They started fan film competitions with awards and everything. Paramount at the time ok’d the making of the Star Tek New Voyages. Not every company is on board with all these fan films, but I would think it could only be a good thing. As many of these fan creators say, making these can only perpetuate and lengthen the popularity and life span of these properties.
It really does all boil down to the passion these fans have for the material. Whether their film looks cheap and no budget, or they have some money to spend on sets and CG effects, the love of the source material is right there on the screen. And thanks to John E. Hudgens for bringing it all out to see. I enjoyed this documentary thoroughly, and as a matter of cooincidence, I happened to have watched John’s previous documentary last month called, American Scary, which is about the late night TV horror movie host. Also recommend it! Backyard Blockbusters gets a good four kittenhands. Frankly, this film is about our kind of people. Passionate nerds and geeks. Give us our comic books, our sci-fi, our fantasy, our fan-created films. People with time on their hands that have been more productive than me.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, now on a hunt to find these productions somewhere.