Fan Film, Fan Films

Dark Knight Fan Film aims for Feature Reality

The Dark Knight Project's Sanchez, O'Donnell, Nendick and Vasilatos.

I mentioned The Dark Knight Project a few weeks ago as its cast and crew were gearing up to shoot in mid-June. Now the fan film—and the feature film it ties into—have been released.

The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger’s last movie, has done pretty well since it came out Friday, debuting to the biggest box office weekend ever ($155.3 million over three days). Now fans, still hungry for more, even after sitting through the two-and-a-half-hour feature, are discovering Project online.

The fan film not only features Batman, but also some of the same Chicago locations and Gotham Police cars as used in the feature; blurring the lines between amateur and professional production even more, it uses fan footage of the feature’s climactic skyscraper fight being shot last summer, working it into a new story.

The fan flick follows two Gotham Midtown students, Heather Nolan and Mikey Bale, played by Allyssa O’Donnell and David Sanchez; the characters’ first names are nods to The Blair Witch Project (as is the fan film’s title), while their surnames honor The Dark Knight‘s writer / director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale. Throughout the fan film, the precocious pair try to capture the first video footage of Batman for a school project, but they encounter problems—and eventually the Joker’s henchmen. It doesn’t give anything away to mention that Bats saves the day; however, the fan film isn’t over when the fight is.

A film industry professional, writer / director / producer / editor Jerry Vasilatos sank a pretty penny into the 15-minute film, as he noted on the film’s website:

The budget ended up at about $14,000… about $5,000 on the studio quality batsuit custom fitted for our actor, the rest on production insurance, vehicle and picture car rentals, permits, catering for cast and crew, equipment rentals, etc. The minimum it would have been was $9,000 if the costuming budget didn’t demand what it did for Batman and the clowns to look right. It adds up when you are doing it on a professional level, and you can’t avoid the costs of insurance because the city and equipment rental houses demand it to do business with you plus it’s important to make sure that you protect your cast and crew in case of any mishaps.

Kudos go to Chris Nendick as Batman, and George Hroziencik as the Gotham Times News Vendor, who leave the rest of the ensemble in their dust, but the true star is Chicago itself. The architecture of everything—from bridges to simple back alleyways—really pops in the film, aided by great camerawork (they splurged on a steadicam), and creative framing, most noticeably a shot looking out from inside an electrical fuse box.

Adding to the vermisilitude is the Gotham Police car, rented from an outfit that supplied the vehicle for the real feature, and accurate masks for the henchmen—copies that just hit the market the week the fan film was shot.

Likely the only real problem for the fan film is that the timeline of events is wacky. The footage of the skyscraper battle is incorporated into the story, as noted before, but the fan film takes place between 2005′s Batman Begins, and the current The Dark Knight. Given the conflict that awaits Batman after that battle in the new feature film, there’s no way to rewrite / re-edit the fan film to work it directly into that movie’s story (which is a shame), but give ‘em credit for creativity; using footage from a Hollywood flick without resorting to illegally ripping it off a DVD is a great idea. So, want to go back to Gotham for a little sightseeing? Check in on The Dark Knight Project.

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4 Responses to “Dark Knight Fan Film aims for Feature Reality”

  1. Christopher Moshier

    Interesting film. I checked this out and posted the film over at Very well done. It’s rare I see a Batman Fan Film done right.

  2. Hey Guys…

    I’m really glad you liked the film! Actually, after seeing “The Dark Knight”… I was able to substitute another shot of the skyscraper footage without SWAT guys… the intention in our film being that this is NOT the Prewitt Building, but another skyscraper under construction… playing off the theme that the Joker has a penchant for using uninhabited buildings for his activities and the police copters in the shot were what sell the idea of something big happening in the neighborhood with the added bomb scare evacuation. And as it’s later revealed by Gordon to Essen… the “Midtown Tower” is where GPD has found some low level gang corpses… while keeping cops diverted from the attempted break-in Batman that disrupts in the alley.

    Anyway, we did the best we could trying to make the short a seamless bridge and I hope that clears up that plot point! ;-)

    Thanks again for the great review, we’re all thrilled that the fan community has embraced our contribution to the “Batman” mythos.


    Jerry Vasilatos


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