Tim Walker: 'Most people who try to make a fan movie get bored or get a job instead'

The Couch Surfer: Having the motivation, the stamina and, crucially, the equipment to make a full-length fan movie is exceptional.

Share
Related Topics

The past year has added two new chapters to the tale of Indiana Jones. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull cost $185m to produce and topped the box office charts. Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, was made for $5,000, and took more than 25 years to reach a single British cinema.

Raiders: The Adaptation is the work of three boyhood obsessives – director Eric Zala, producer Chris Strompolos and cinematographer Jayson Lamb – who, in 1982, aged 12, decided to remake their favourite film using the meagre facilities available to them. The finished feature – sanctioned by Steven Spielberg, who watched it twice – just had its first (perhaps only) British cinema screening. It's that rare thing, a fan-made film that's acquired a cult of its own.

Of the two new films, Raiders: The Adaptation is perhaps truer to the spirit of the original. Thanks to the green hue of the older sections of VHS footage, some desperately inadequate sound mixing, and the fact that its actors aged by more than a decade during filming, it's also unwatchable. But at least it doesn't have any rubbish CGI monkeys in it.

Type the search term "sweded" (which has its too-complicated-to-explain-here origins in the movie Be Kind Rewind) into YouTube, and you'll find countless no-budget, two-minute versions of popular films. Yet having the motivation, the stamina and, crucially, the equipment to make a full-length fan movie is exceptional. Most who try are youthful non-professionals, and either get bored or get jobs before completing anything.

Fan-made films aren't produced for mainstream consumption, nor in pursuit of fame. They're made for the love of the original, for the enjoyment of their makers and maybe, just maybe, the approval of the heroes they're imitating.

If not for its distinctly middling reviews, the exception might have been last year's US cinema release, Fanboys, by Star Wars fanatic Ernie Cline, a former IT customer services rep. Set in 1998, Fanboys tells the story of a group of Star Wars cultists who break into George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch to steal a preview copy of The Phantom Menace for a terminally ill fellow fan, so that he can see the movie before he dies. (Whether watching The Phantom Menace is actually a fate worse than death is not an idea that the film explores.)

Like Raiders: The Adaptation, Fanboys was endorsed by Harry Knowles, the film blogger and super-fan behind the website Ain't It Cool News, whom Cline cast as a wise, Yoda-like mentor figure. With Knowles' help, the filmmakers roped in Star Wars actors Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams for cameo roles, persuaded Harvey Weinstein to fund them, and gained access to the real Skywalker Ranch for filming.

When you're a pre-teen, your critical faculties are far from fully-formed, so your shaping cinematic influences run the risk of being less spectacularly brilliant in hindsight. Zala, Strompolos and Lamb were lucky enough to come of age during a decade of classic adventure movies, book-ended by Raiders (1981) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).

Unfortunately, the first time I sat in a cinema and thought "Holy crap! Somebody makes these things, and they're awesome!" wasn't until 1991. I was 10. The film was Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. After seeing it for the sixth time, I hunted down every one of Kevin Costner's movies (yes, even Fandango) and scoured Our Price for all the Bryan Adams albums that pocket money could buy.

My friend Martin suggested we remake Prince of Thieves using his dad's video camera. Martin decided to play Little John. Our friend Oliver, an aspiring musical theatre performer, would be Robin. I took on the showboating Sheriff of Nottingham's role; Alan Rickman was, no doubt, quaking.

Today, Martin is an architect, Oliver a doctor. Our project hit the skids when Martin's father, Mr Wells, refused to loan his video equipment to a bunch of 11-year-olds who planned to tear through the backwoods of Surrey with it. Had we managed to get the production off the ground, I can’t imagine it would’ve earned Mr Costner’s blessing, either.

In a strange twist of fate, the woodland in which we proposed to film our masterpiece was recently commandeered by Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, who've disrupted my mother's dog-walking routine to shoot their own version of Robin Hood. They may have years of experience and tens of millions of dollars; but they'll never have the innocent, undiluted love that my friends and I were prepared to spend on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: The Adaptation.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US  

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Robert Fisk
 

Next they'll say an independent Scotland can't use British clouds...

Mark Steel
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year