I have talked about the power of really good fan art before. There is just something magical that happens when fans get to offer their own spin on things.

And as much as I adore good fan art, NOTHING can beat a well made fan film. Fan films are always independent, typically low budget films made out of passion for the material and not for profit.

When someone loves something enough, they cannot help but want to share that love, and that is what a fan film does. In some cases, I would take a homegrown, fan film over the big budget counterpart on any day.

Here are five fan films that left my jaw on the floor when I first saw them.

Batman: Dead End

Some feel this film ends up being too over the top, but take into consideration that this movie was made in 2003, and on a budget so low, you would not think a film of this caliber would be possible, but here it is. I won’t ruin the twists for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, but The Joker is the least of Batman‘s problems here. Also worth noting, the actor who plays The Joker so marvelously here is Andrew Koenig, who played Boner on the 80’s sitcom Growing Pains. Sadly, he took his life a few years ago. The Joker curse rolls on.

George Lucas In Love

This one is almost too witty for its own good. It takes you about a minute to figure out what they are doing with this story, but the way it plays out and the slow reveal of how the story of Star Wars came to George Lucas during a bout he was having with writer’s block is nothing short of brilliant.  Some say the biggest problem with the most recent Star Wars films is that they were lacking heart. This film, on the other hand, is all heart. And still as charming to me now as the first time I saw it.

Fallout: Nuka Break

You need to truly appreciate the most recent Fallout games to really appreciate this fan film, but if you are familiar with the source material, this is just a mine that reveals itself to be all diamonds over time. Embodying everything that is imaginative about the games, injecting a larger dose of humor, and cap it off with a truly likable cast of misfits, and you have yourself one of the greatest fan films ever made. Has since gone on to become a web series, but stretched over time, it loses some of its charm. Stick with the original.

The Hunt For Gollum

I can bet there will be a few places in this fan film where you do double takes. The special effects are fantastic. The cinematography is far more epic and sweeping than it has any right to be. And the casting is damn near perfect. If someone walks in on you watching this in the middle, there is even a chance they could confuse it with the real Lord Of The Rings movies, which tells you just how much of a true accomplishment this is. This is a must see for any fans of the books or films, just for how accurately it fits into that world.

Frank Miller’s Badboy

This one is so dope, it caused me to become familiar with the comics AFTER I had seen the film. This particular fan film literally oozes style, and with it setup as a sort of mock trailer, you will find yourself wishing this was being made into a full length movie just like I did when I watched it. Some are on this list because of style, and some are on the list because of substance. While this one is a liberal mix of both. You don’t to be a fan of the source material to see just how badass this fan film really is.