Q: How does a moviegoer respond to a film that
touches them on a certain level?
A: They go back to the theater to see it again
and again, or watch it repeatedly at home on videotape, DVD, or
Blu-ray. So much so that they know every line of dialogue and
B: Immerse themselves and empty his/her bank
account buying up all the related movie merchandise.
C: Seek out other fans and dress in costume and
attend fan conventions.
D: Start up a website or podcast devoted to that
E: Spend thousands of dollars, constructing sets,
making costumes, writing scripts and filming your own version
or further adventures of your favorite film hero.
Well, if you answered "E" to that question you may be
one of the featured fan films in the wonderful new book; Homemade
Hollywood: Fans Behind the Camera by author Clive
If you thought that making homemade recreations of films like
Batman, Tarzan, Spider-Man, Star
Wars, and of course Raiders of the Lost Ark, started
with the introduction of the video camcorder, you would be sadly
mistaken. Clive Young seeks out the history of fan made films and
taps into not only the rich details behind these lavish (and not
so lavish) productions, but also digs deeper to discover the love
of the art.
Written by Clive Young.
The book begins in 1926 with the infamous Anderson Our Gang
film, in which the notion of some "fans" making their
own interpretation of a Hollywood film was met with some raised
eyebrows, not to mention serious questions from copyright lawyers.
Fans of today are more savvy and familiar with the legalities that
protect their favorite Tinseltown heroes by not allowing fan films
to show up on the shelves of their local DVD retailers, things were
different back tin 1926. When a few con artists tried to recreate
their own version of Hal Roach's famous Our Gang shorts
it wasn't an homage, but rather a get rich quick scheme to pull
on unsuspecting theatre owners. Though this was a black eye for
films made outside of the Hollywood factory, thankfully it did not
extinguish the flames of fandom from firing up their own films in
Homemade Hollywood flies through the decades and illustrates
how the desire to bring the swash-buckling, daring-do escapades
of the big screen into one's backyard was done time and again by
movie fans. Of particular note to Indiana Jones fans would be the
chapter devoted to the works of Donald F. Glut. What's that you
say, the name Don Glut doesn't resonate the same awe as say a Steven
Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson or George Lucas. What it
I was to tell you that if it wasn't for Don Glut there might not
be an Indiana Jones?
Back in the 1960s, Don Glut was a film fan in a league of his
own, making his own film versions of the characters he loved like
Captain America to Spider-Man. Glut spared no
expense in making his action films and went out his way to make
sure he had not only great screenplays, but production values that
went along with them. Along the way, Glut would find himself enrolled
at the University of Southern California (before he was asked to
leave) or as it is often referred to USC. There he would be making
films alongside future filmmakers like John Milius and a certain,
skinny kid with glasses named George Lucas.
While Glut was filming his versions of sci-fi fantasy films, he
commandeered the 16MM film projectors from USC to show films he
loved as a kid to his fellow classmates. Those films that Glut would
show were none other than the cliff-hanging serials of the late
1930s and 40s! As fate would have it, sitting in the audience watching
and possibly taking notes on those escapist escapades for future
references was Indiana Jones co-creator, George Lucas! Fan filmmaker
Don Glut would go on to his own claim to fame writing for comics
and television shows like Land of the Lost and Transformers
and in a ironic twist of fate, the novelization of Lucas's The
Empire Strikes Back in 1981. But it was his movies like Captain
America Battles the Red Skull that brought smiles to fellow
film fans in the 1960s.
On the subject of Indiana Jones, Homemade Hollywood traces
the backyard, Betamax origins of the trio of Indyfans who went on
to spend a small fortune and gained glory from Spielberg himself
for their film; Raiders:
The Adaptation. Fans of TheRaider.net have probably
read the story, and may have been lucky enough to watch the shot-by-shot
recreation of Indiana Jones first, and greatest big screen adventure;
Raiders of the Lost Ark by filmmakers Eric Zala, Chris
Strompolos and Jayson Lamb. Homemade Hollywood tells the
story of the boys from Mississippi and their fan film and how it
became a bonding experience for three friends. From the terror of
making a giant boulder to the wrath of parents not to keen seeing
their kids set themselves ablaze all for the sake of art, this section
of Clive Young's book brings a smile and some out loud chuckles
as it tells the years of work these three Indyfans poured into making
their version of Raiders, one that met with a mind-blowing
approval from Steven Spielberg!
As Film Threat's and Attack of the Show's film expert. Chris Gore,
who provides the introduction to Homemade Hollywood states;
"...they (fan films) are not made with no expectations of box
office success ... only with the intention purely to entertain."
That latter sentiment I recall being said by a certain team of collaborating
filmmakers who when referring to their movie about a globe-trotting
archaeologist with a fear of snakes once said "we just wanted
to see this movie". Whether it is a big budgeted Indiana Jones
or Star Wars epic, or the folks behind Troops
or Pink Five, there is a certain "fanboy" energy
that drives these artists to put their passion for good storytelling
onto the film or tape. The love of the art is also the mother of
inspiration and ingenuity as illustrated by the limited budget these
fan films work around to achieve impressive effects and sets, some
times endangering life and limb.
Read about the high-swinging exploits of Dan Poole who actually
swung around buildings in Baltimore for his Spider-Man
film, risking his life and gaining the ire of the police. Every
page of this book is filled with details and tales that make you
just look around your collection of action figures and movie posters
and second-guess the lengths you would go to explore your fandom.
Homemade Hollywood is a great read, and one that is so
loaded with fun facts and behind the scenes stories that you cannot
put it down. From the hilarity of Hardware Wars to the
dark and foreboding action of Sandy Collora's Batman: Dead End,
this book chronicles all the fantastic exploits that make up homemade
fan films. If you have ever went to a comic/sci-fi convention and
marveled at a screening of Troops, Star Wars: Revelations
or downloaded an episode of Star Trek: The New Voyages
and ask yourself; "how did they do that", Homemade
Hollywood has all the answers. It makes you want to go out
and track down all the films mentioned within its pages and watch
them, and if you do knowing all the effort that was put in to them
will only add to your enjoyment.
Congratulations to Clive
Young for turning the spotlight on fandom's unsung heroes behind
the cameras who have gone on to make us laugh, cheer and inspire
a whole new generation of film fans (and possibly filmmakers) with
their determination to make sure our big screen heroes don't "fade
Homemade Hollywood: Fans Behind the Camera by Clive Young
is published by Continuum
International Publishing Group, Inc.
Reviewed by Mitchell Hallock