Top 10 fan-made video game movies and trailers
- 16 April, 2010 14:11
Fan-made films based on popular video games have become an interesting phenomena over the years. Just what drives these people to shed their blood, sweat and tears on something they can’t possibly hope to profit from?
Some are gamers who get tired of waiting for the big studios to take notice of their favourite characters (still no Zelda movie? Really, Hollywood?) Others are indie-filmmakers who set out to right the wrongs perpetrated by professional hacks (Uwe Boll, we’re looking at you). And of course, some are just YouTube junkies with far too much time on their hands.
Whatever their motive, it’s usually a thankless undertaking: beset by financial hardship, legal issues and an army of online nitpickers. As one reader on Gamepro put it: “Most people who watch a fan-made film assume that children are behind it, or simply do not take it seriously. It’s a problem indie filmmakers have been facing for years.”
As if that’s not bad enough, there’s also a good chance that the game’s publisher will ban your creation forever, as the makers of Zelda: The Hero of Time learned to their chagrin (see next page).
And yet, despite the legal risks involved, people continue to badger away at these cinematic tributes to games. Sometimes it takes them years to complete.
Just what is the point of it all?
Well, as a fan of Modern Warfare: Frozen Crossing noted: “Great films do not need big budgets, popular stars, eye popping special effects, and a 3,000 theatre release. All you need is exactly what you saw in this video. Passion.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. It’s passion that drives these projects. Passion, and a deep-seated love of video games.
In the following article, we take a look at some the best fan-made movies and trailers that have hit the Web. Some are better than others, but almost all of them are fuelled by the above ingredient. Read on to be inspired (remember — all you need to realise your dreams is a cheap camcorder and some mates! Oh yeah, and talent.)
10. Metal Gear Solid: Philanthropy
This film, based on Konami’s popular Metal Gear Solid franchise, was released in September 2009 and took around three years to make. The film’s creative team, collectively known as Hive Division, faced financial, copyright and logistical issues from the very beginning. Consequently, the makers are unsure if they’ll produce the two sequels they wrote in 2006.
“We do not really know when we’re going to produce the two sequels of Philanthropy," admitted the film's producer. "This will depend on many factors: the reaction of our public, the professional future of Hive Division and, for sure, Konami’s reaction to the project.”
Much like the game series, the film contains reams of Cold War dialogue that seems to go on forever and ever and ever. Unlike the game, you can’t skip it to get to the action. Tch. On the plus side, the guy playing Solid Snake is excellent.
The 70-minute film is available to stream or download here:
Or you can check out the first ten minutes below:
9. Modern Warfare: Frozen Crossing
One of our favourites, this film was made for a paltry US$210. Directed by Niko Pueringer and Sam Gorski, this unofficial tribute to Modern Warfare was produced by special effects studio Corridor Digital. The seven minute film features beautiful cinematography, tautly cut sniper scenes, point-blank executions and some realistic blood splatter. Many of the effects rival some low-budget Hollywood productions. One thing’s for sure: Corridor Digital certainly knows how to stretch a budget!
To watch Modern Warfare: Frozen Crossing, click on the video below:
8. Tomb Raider: Tears of the Dragon
Far from the Hollywood blockbuster featuring Angelina Jolie, this version premiered in February 2006 to widespread acclaim. It was filmed mostly in Southern California and the Bay area, including Los Angeles, Altadena, Blythe, Beverly Hills, Westwood, San Francisco and Oakland. The 35-minute film has a storyline that does not relate to the two Tomb Raider movies and even has an original soundtrack. The Sun newspaper in the UK described it as "#1 Pick of the best fan films" (although this could have something to do with the accompanying saucy photos of the lead actress).
You can check out Tomb Raider: Tears of the Dragon here.
Or click below to see the trailer:
7. Zelda: The Hero of Time
This unofficial Zelda movie was released in December 2009 by BMB Finishes studios to instant critical acclaim. The feature-length film took over four years to produce and sadly met an untimely end when Nintendo intervened by flexing its muscles and ordering the company to shut down the videos being shown online.
“We understand Nintendo’s right to protect its characters and trademarks and understand how in order to keep their property unspoiled by fan’s interpretation of the franchise, Nintendo needs to protect itself — even from fan-works with good intentions”, the filmmakers explained in a statement.
A sad end for a great project but it reiterates the copyright issues that follow fan-made films.
For more information, visit The Hero of Time Web site.
Also, check out this hilarious promo clip for the movie:
6. Halo movie trailer
The official Halo movie has been tied up in development hell since 2006, so it’s no wonder some fans have decided to take matters into their own hands. This trailer is a clever mash-up of Halo TV spots, in-game footage and CGI cinematics. It gives a compelling indication of what a Halo movie might look like.
Some parts of the trailer are very reminiscent of the science fiction film District 9, which came out over a year later. (Interestingly, the director of District 9 was originally onboard to direct the Halo movie. Spook!)
Click below to see the Halo Movie trailer in full:
5. Halo Bollywood (IGN spoof)
Ah, April Fool's Day. The most annoying day on the Internet as geeks run amok and the pranks begin flowing. This year, popular games website IGN leaked a supposed trailer of a new Halo movie. Made in India. The proceeding dance-and-sing-a-long Bollywood number is pretty much too funny for words. “I need a veapon!”
[Note: yeah, yeah, we realise this clip doesn’t really qualify as ‘fan made’, but it was altogether too funny not to include. Also, if you want to get into tedious semantics, the IGN staff are obviously ‘fans’ of Halo. So ner.]
Witness the hilarity below:
4. Krym (S.T.A.L.K.E.R fan movie)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl is one of the most unapologetically cinematic shooters of all time, so it’s little wonder that so many gamers have paid tribute with homemade movies of their own. One of the best is Krym: a S.T.A.L.K.E.R-inspired short from a bunch of film students in Germany. Some of the desolate vistas could be right out of the game (or Chernobyl itself).
Watch Part 1 below:
3. Paper Boy: The Movie trailer
This fan-made Paper Boy trailer is sheer, deranged genius. It’s hilarious, poignant and weird all at the same time. We’re even willing to forgive the lack of an obstacle course at the end.
Click below, and laugh heartily:
2. Half-Life: Escape From City-17
This stunningly polished short was made guerrilla-filmmaking style with no permanent crew members on a budget of just $500. Much of the CGI in the film was taken from the game Half-Life 2. The directors added graphical enhancements and then merged it seamlessly with the live action footage.
The production values are truly astonishing: you could almost imagine it up on the big screen as an Avatar-style summer blockbuster. Valve Corporation (the studio behind the original game) was reportedly so impressed with Escape From City-17 that it flew directors David and Ian Purchase out from their home base in Canada to meet the team.
"We were blown away”, said Valve in a statement. “The production quality certainly exceeds that of the usual community-made movies we see."
Originally envisioned as a multi-part saga, the film has lead to copious amounts of Rickrolling, with anxious fans constantly falling for the same prank. (Click here to see the just-released Part Three!)
Check out Half-Life: Escape From City-17 below:
1. Pac-Man: The Movie trailer
This spoof trailer about ‘the greatest hero who ever lived’ was made in 2006 by comedy sketch artist Scott Gairdner. Despite some ropy production values, it’s a pretty spot-on parody of Hollywood’s moronic treatment of video game properties. The nonsensical real-world setting, the superfluous cop character, the ‘sexing up’ of Ms Pac-Man, the unnecessary addition of a ray-gun — this is pretty much exactly how a 1980s Pac-Man movie would have looked.
The “I’m gonna need back up!” final shot is pure Hollywood cheese.