As hundreds of cease-and-desist letters will attest, paying tribute to your favorite IP is never as easy as it seems. ‘Trademark infringements,’ ‘copyright violations,’ ‘intellectual theft,’ all legalese for the same thing: “N.O.” No you can’t produce an 8-hour opera charting the rise and fall of Star Fox, no you aren’t able to sell those Mario-branded pipefittings you made, and no you certainly can’t change your name to Nathan Drake and expect to receive Uncharted royalties.

Luckily, there’s just enough leeway in the law to give gamers and their fan fiction a fighting chance. Change a name here, a logo there and swear blind that you’ve never even heard of Electronic Arts and you might just get your low-budget mini-masterpiece off the ground.

The latest titles to try their hand at small-scale cinematic success are based upon three of the previous gen’s best-loved properties. The first, produced by Manifest Films and directed by Anthony Pietromonaco follows the story of twisted tyrant and Borderlands villain Handsome Jack. Working in conjunction with well-known fan film outlet Machinima, Pietromonaco’s movie, titled Jack’s Exodus is set to premiere at the Games on Film Festival in Washington, DC this Friday. Check out the link above, to see a short clip of Jack in action.

The next title to be presented for your viewing pleasure is a unique, real-life take on the ongoing phenomenon that is Minecraft. Created by amateur auteur Benjamin Combes, this 5-minute yarn tells the tale of Steve, an average player on an everyday quest to crush Creepers, avoid arrows and dig dirt. Check it out above.

The final film on display today is a 20-minute opus focusing on the exploits of an unnamed Lara Croft, as the young adventurer tracks a band of marauding mercs. Boasting a number of slick action sequences and a film crew almost as large as the cast of the original high-scoring game, the film certainly delivers a worthwhile watch, especially for those who enjoy the occasionally hammy slice of over-acting. Hit the link below to watch Croft.

Given the improvement in these kinds of amateur projects over recent years, it might be nice to see studios start to embrace their fan film communities more fully. With many mods already making use of developer-owned property – so long as they agree not to profit from the end result – extending similar rights and restrictions to filmmakers could prove a good way to encourage and extend the appeal of certain properties.

Can fan films succeed without big budgets? Should studios be doing more to encourage and endorse these low-tech efforts? Have your say in the comments below, and be sure to check in with all of the latest gaming news, right here on Game Rant.


Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition debuts on January 28, 2013 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The first installment of Tales from the Borderlands is scheduled to appear at some point in 2014.

Minecraft is on PC, Xbox 360, Mobile, and now available for the PlayStation 3 as well.

Follow Sam on Twitter @GamingGoo.