Do you want to see Star Wars, Star Trek, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Lord of the Rings and more, all in the same film? In Hollywood, it’s impossible. But in fan films, such a mix is not only possible, but encouraged, and the same can be said about a documentary about fans films.

Directed by John E. Hudgens, Backyard Blockbusters follows the phenomenon of the fan film: normal people spending their hard earned money to make films set in the worlds they love. These are films fueled by passion, which rarely see a profit, and can be viewed by millions and millions of like-minded people who appreciate the fandom of the filmmakers. Unfortunately, sometimes Hollywood doesn’t always see it that way and fights back against them.

Hudgens recently completed his documentary and is currently applying to festivals. One of which, a documentary film festival held at Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood, is being programmed based on YouTube views of various trailers. So, after the jump, you can check out a cool trailer for what looks like a great movie, and in doing so vote on getting it seen. Read More »

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Y: The Last Man, the popular comic book series by Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra, has been flirting with Hollywood for years. Several filmmakers and stars have expressed interest in the property, which dramatizes a world where every man on Earth dies save for one, but the story’s huge scope has held it back. The latest update came in March when New Line hired the writers of the TV show Human Target to pen a new script.

But development hell means nothing when there’s a passionate fan base on the Internet and today fans get a Y: The Last Man mini-movie. Director Christian Cardona has created a 20 minute fan film called Y: The Last Man Rising which sets up a few of the story’s major arcs complete with violence, action and humor. Make no mistake, this is a low budget fan film, but it’s got a great feel for Y: The Last Man and some nice little effects anyway. Check it out after the jump. Read More »

Is there a way you can try and see The Riddler in Christopher Nolan‘s Batman universe? What does Mark Millar have to say about the newly scripted Justice League movie? Want to see a new TV spot from The Dark Knight Rises and a new clip from The Amazing Spider-Man? Where can you go to get some Dark Knight Rises spoilers? Is it possible to buy prop replicas from Batman: Arkham City? What does the pre-viz from Dredd look like? Read about all this and more in today’s Superhero Bits.

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These days it’s much easier to find a great video game than a great video game movie. Great video games are released almost every month but great video game movies are few and far between. For every Mortal Kombat or Tomb Raider there’s Street Fighter or Double Dragon (Or Doom. Or Max Payne. Or Hitman. You get the idea).

Then there are properties out there we’ll likely never see on the big screen. Super Mario Bros., for example, all but killed the chance of Nintendo ever letting anyone make movies out of their characters. Microsoft has been trying to push Halo for nearly a decade. These days we’re left with Resident Evil movies that are tangentially related to the games at best. What’s a fan to do if they want to see their favorite video game character outside of their XBox?

The answer is YouTube and the world of fan films. We’ve already seen a Portal fan film explode across the Internet, a solid series of Mortal Kombat films and now another popular character has got his due. Olan Rogers has mad a $700 fan film called Mega Man X that pushes its meager budget to its limits with a fun recreation of a game series many of us grew up with and loved. Check it out below.

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Last month I received a cryptic e-mail inviting me to a private screening of a new Star Wars film edited by Topher Grace — which is funny because I had no idea there was a new Star Wars film in the works, with or without Grace’s involvement. I was told the screening was a secret private event arranged only for friends only and was asked not to talk about it beforehand. The event was held somewhere in the Hollywood area in a a screening room filled with filmmakers, editors, actors, actresses and only a few press friends. I was told I could blog about it afterwards if I wanted, so here goes…

For those of you who don’t know, Topher Grace is a film geek. He loves the Star Wars films, the Back to the Future movies and all the same signature titles of any film geek who grew up in the 1980s. He recently became interested in the editing process and wanted to learn more about the art form. Instead of cutting a short film, he wanted to use something he was more familiar with.

His idea was to edit the Star Wars prequels into one movie, as they would provide him a lot of footage to work with. He used footage from all three prequels, a couple cuts from the original trilogy, some music from The Clone Wars television series, and even a dialogue bit from Anthony Daniels’ (C-3PO) audio book recordings. He even created a new opening text crawl to set up his version of the story.

The result is an 85-minute movie titled Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back. It should be noted that the Star Wars prequel trilogy is almost 7 hours in total length, and the shortest film (Episode 1) is more than 51 minutes longer than Grace’s fan cut. What this means is a lot of footage ended up on the editing room floor, and a lot of creative choices were made in the editing process. And the result? Topher Grace’s Star Wars film is probably the best possible edit of the Star Wars prequels given the footage released and available.

Whats most shocking is that with only 85 minutes of footage, Topher was able to completely tell the main narrative of Anakin Skywalker’s road from Jedi to the Sith. While I know the missing pieces and could even fill in the blanks in my head as the film raced past, none of those points were really needed. Whats better is that the character motivations are even more clear and identifiable, a real character arc not bogged down by podraces, galactic senates, Jar Jar Binks, politics or most of the needless parts of the Star Wars prequels. It not only clarifies the story, but makes the film a lot more action-packed.

UPDATE: The movie still isn’t online but Topher Grace has published a trailer of his Star Wars Prequel edit online, watch it here.
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Disney has been struggling with the marketing for Andrew Stanton‘s John Carter, which opens in a couple weeks but still seems to face an uphill battle establishing itself even for audiences that should be pretty receptive to an old-school sci-fi film based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel.

There have been a couple trailers now and quite a few clips released, and while each has various charms no one trailer or clip has really hammered home what the movie is.

So a fan took a lot of the released footage and cut a non-official trailer. It’s a lot better than any of the others, both from the perspective of laying out the story, and for showing the scope of the film. After the break, you can see this John Carter edit, as well as a quick fan-made teaser for a live-action version of Akira. Read More »

Jamie Benning has made three excellent ‘making of’ documentaries — or ‘filmumentaries,’ as he calls them, about the original Star Wars trilogy. His efforts collate interviews and rare behind the scenes footage and photos in what are essentially the most detailed commentary tracks a fan could hope for.

Benning followed his Star Wars docs with Raiding the Lost Ark, which tracks the creation of the first Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. We’ve showcased the beginning of this ‘filmumentary’ in the past, but the full-length version is now available online. It’s a must-see for any Raiders or Steven Spielberg fan. No matter how much a viewer knows about the making of Raiders, I’d be very surprised if there was nothing here that is new, as Benning has incorporated everything from classic interviews to the minutia of little-seen production reports. Read More »

Odds are if you read this site, you are an incredibly huge fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s pretty much a given. If you love films, especially geek, genre films, then Steven Spielberg and George Lucas‘ introduction of Harrison Ford‘s Indiana Jones character is either right near, or the absolute epitome of, what this little art form we call “film” can do. It’s thrilling, it’s funny, it’s surprising, it’s pretty much perfect in every single way. Plus, it was released long before most of us were eating, drinking and sleeping our love of the art form. For that reason, whenever we can delve into the kind of trivial, behind the scenes minutia that went into making the movie, we have to call it out.

Or, you can now just get all that in one place.

Jamie Benning has been making documentaries, or “filmumentaries” as he likes to call them, based on our favorite films for quite some time. He brings together all the tiny bits of interesting insider information you’ve always heard about Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and now Raiders of the Lost Ark, and puts them in a well-edited, entertaining package that runs along side the main feature becoming almost a visual commentary on the movie. Raiding the Lost Ark is the title of his latest production and while it’s not 100% done, Benning has put the first 17 minutes online. Watch it after the jump. Read More »

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