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6 audacious fan films that could teach Hollywood a lesson

Dawson and Starbuck in a gritty future war? Yes please. Photo: Adi Shankar/YouTube

A recent Power Rangers fan film created major excitement online. Photo: Adi Shankar/YouTube

Fan films are the ultimate way for devotees to pay tribute to the characters they love. They give fans the chance to show how the beloved heroes (and antiheroes) should be portrayed — without the creativity-sapping “benefit” of focus groups, hack screenwriters and overpaid producers.

With a war raging between the fans who make these productions and the rights-holders who argue they’re being damaged, Cult of Mac runs down six of the best fan-created short films doing the round on the interwebz.

Check out our picks below.

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Awesome throwback lamp will blind you with style

Photo: Anglepoise

This is one gorgeous desk lamp. Photo: Anglepoise

I finally pitched the cheap plastic desk lamp I’ve had since high school and replaced it with the light I’ve always wanted: the iconic Anglepoise 1227.

If you’re looking for a classic desk lamp that won’t fade into the backdrop next to your sleek iMac, this is the one for you.

Launched in 1934, the design of the 1227 has changed astonishingly little. It still looks functional and modern, which makes perfect sense given Anglepoise started out making hard-wearing lamps for factory workers.

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Pencil artist works in miniature — and that’s the point

Russian artist Salavat Fidai carves detailed sculptures into the point of a pencil lead. Photo: Salvata Fidai

Russian artist Salavat Fidai carves detailed sculptures out of pencil lead. Photo: Salavat Fadai

Salavat Fidai is working proof that artists need not create large pieces to make a name for themselves.

Much of what he creates is no bigger than the tip of a pencil — literally.

Under the glow of a single work light while his family sleeps, Fidai uses a craft knife and 4x magnifying glass to create tiny sculptures out of pointy pencil lead.

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Lust List: Killer gear for iPhone lovers, bike riders and ax wielders

Once-famous robot lives quietly away from limelight

Elektro, a robot built by Westinghouse in 1937, was a star at the World's Fair in 1939-40. Photo: Courtesy of Scott Schaut/Mansfield Memorial Museum

Elektro, a robot built by Westinghouse in 1937, was a star at the World’s Fair in 1939-40. Photo: Courtesy of Scott Schaut/Mansfield Memorial Museum

America’s oldest surviving robot no longer smokes cigarettes.

Once-famous robot lives quietly away from limelightLong lines of people no longer wait to see him, topless women haven’t danced around him in years and his legs have been broken since that amusement park gig.

But Elektro is home now, his head reunited with his body, cared for by a man named Scott Schaut, who is so fiercely protective that museum requests to borrow the gold robot usually end with him replying “over my dead body.”

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What Apple’s patents tell us about a possible iCar

Mysterious Apple minivans are mapping vehicles, experts say

What are the LIDAR units doing on this Apple van? Photo: AppleInsider video

What are the LIDAR units doing on this Apple van? Photo: AppleInsider video

The mysterious Apple minivans roaming the roads in California, Florida and elsewhere are generally assumed to be self-driving cars, but they are not. They are almost undoubtedly collecting data for maps.

They are “almost certainly a mapping vehicle,” said Paul Godsmark, chief technology officer with the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence, who examined photos of the mystery vehicles at Cult of Mac’s request.

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How Alto’s Adventure became your next favorite iPhone game

Photo: Snowman

Photo: Snowman

One of Ryan Cash’s favorite games growing up was GoldenEye on the N64. “One thing I remember so clearly is that the game was hard,” he recalled. “You couldn’t just beat the game on its toughest setting if you weren’t amazing.”

Luckily for Cash, his friend Bruno was a master at GoldenEye, and he would come over to unlock cheats. “He was the guy,” Cash remembered.

Most of us probably had a Bruno growing up. Back when you couldn’t pay $1.99 with Touch ID to unlock more gems or coins. Back when games were just as fun as mobile games are now, but also challenging and dependent on skill.

With Alto’s Adventure, out today in the App Store for $1.99, Cash and the rest of his team drew from the games they love to make something unique. They’ve created a game that’s not only really fun to play, but beautiful to behold. And unlike GoldenEye, there are no cheat codes to help you get ahead.

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Filmmaker has mixed feelings about his iPhone masterpiece

Tangerine was filmed with the iPhone 5s but it's cinematic feel comes from an app, an adapter lens and several hours of post production. Photo: Sean Baker

Tangerine was filmed with the iPhone 5s, but its cinematic feel comes from an app, a lens adapter and several hours of post-production work. Photo: Sean Baker

There was the buzz going into Sundance and the applause of satisfied audiences at the end of the movie’s screening. But there was also a collective gasp as the last line of the credits rolled past.

Shot on the iPhone 5s.

Sean Baker’s Tangerine, the story of two transgender sex workers in Hollywood, was a break-out hit at the renowned film festival in January. The Hollywood Reporter said the film stands out as “crisp and vigorously cinematic.”

Oft-praised for the rich fringe characters in his independent films, Baker did not set out to change the filmmaking landscape by shooting with a cellphone. Like most indie filmmakers, he had no money.

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How a 25-year-old dev made 600 apps without being able to code

There's money to be made in them there App Stores. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

There’s money to be made in them there App Stores. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

John Hayward-Mayhew is one of the most prolific iOS developers ever to peddle a blackjack game. Over the past four years, the 25-year-old entrepreneur flooded the App Store with an astonishing 600 separate apps — everything from endless runners such as Dangerous Caveman Bum Runner to dentistry games like Emergency Dentist Race — raking in close to $1 million in the process.

The most miraculous part of all? He can’t even code.

But by taking advantage of one of the App Store’s great weaknesses, and borrowing a game plan from one of Hollywood’s most unusual impresarios, he’s built a one-man gaming empire.

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