In this edition of Cool Internet Stuff we are focusing on examples of the ‘fan film’.

Perhaps the most legendary of all is the feature-length (almost) shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark made by some friends over several years. While that movie eventually earned the praise of original Raiders-helmer Steven Spielberg the fan films that are catching heat on the Internet these days are no longer watchable merely for their enthusiasm.

The contents of these fan films is (directly or indirectly) taking the very concept of big budget storytelling in new and exciting directions. Sometimes it is because the filmmakers have employed a tone that wasn’t really there in earlier editions of the actual product and sometimes purely because they (the fan filmmakers) have turned a previously uncinematic-seeming idea into a watchable film.

Hunger Games: Katniss & Rue
While it is true that this set of films is about how people have been able to make their fan videos exciting to watch while employing off-the-shelf special effects programs and a lot of ingenuity and hard work, I’m going to start you off with a film that features a couple of genuinely engaging performances.
I posted this to my Facebook a few months ago and it hasn’t lost any of its appeal with the passage of time. This is a really good example of what fans with imagination can do with material that hasn’t (yet) been adapted into a motion picture.

[The official Hunger Games feature adaptation is scheduled for a 2012 release.]

Beyond Black Mesa
This film adds to the canon of the Half-Life video game series. I don’t know the game and I am unfamiliar with the world but this looks like an entertaining enough prelude to a popcorn flick.

Fight the Foot
If you remember that last, technically brilliant but boring overall all-CG Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film you might appreciate the direction this fan film suggests for the franchise. Like a lot of fan films, this one has pacing issues but it is super cool all the same.

Mortal Kombat: Rebirth
This take on the MK franchise is dark, violent and ambitious (not in the least because they’ve managed to snag some famous names to play certain characters). Love the sound design (all big and feature film-ey as it is) and I know I’d pay to watch this version of a MK movie.

According to this post on /Film this spec project has spawned (no pun intended) a web series featuring Michael Jai White.

So what do you think? Would you make a fan film to get noticed by the big film industry in your corner of the world?