Break out the frackin' party hats and towering birthday cake as the original Battlestar Galactica celebrates its 40th anniversary today!
Glen A. Larson's splashy space opera series debuted on ABC back on Sunday night, September 17, 1978 and millions of viewers tuned in to watch the cosmic adventures of Adama, Starbuck, Apollo, and the ragtag fleet of surviving humans fleeing the tyranny of the evil Cylon Empire in search of a shining planet called Earth. Sadly, the fun spectacle was over all too soon as the expensive-to-produce show faced dwindling ratings over the course of its sole 24-episode season.
To help mark the occasion of this seminal sci-fi series, let's turn to the realm of fan films to see what mini-miracles amateur filmmakers have whipped up on shoestring budgets to demonstrate their intense Battlestar Galactica love for both the classic version and SYFY's rebooted 2004-09 series from creator Ronald D. Moore.
Enjoy this selection of space-bound shorts with plenty of Colonial Vipers, Cylon Raiders, behemoth battlestars, and a whole lotta creativity, then tell us which ones score an extra slice of cake!
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA WARS (2012)
You might chuckle seeing the rudimentary animation on display but I assure you this was a laborious effort taking months of work to deliver a fusion of the universes of Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. Effective use of color and composition make this a compelling tribute short that was completed to promote a larger film that seems to have been abandoned. Shows tremendous potential from its writer, producer, and animator, YouTuber Martok2112, and gives us a taste of how the iconic franchises might be combined.
BATTLE OF ATLANTIA (2011)
Here's a sweet little CGI animated short featuring the flagship of the Colonial fleet, the Atlantia, fending off some pesky Cylons with a swarm of attacking Vipers. Okay, so they misspelled the battlestar's name on the side of the spaceship, but hey, maybe it just lost a "T" in the heat of battle! Created by YouTuber queenhunter2009 using Cinema4d, After Effects, and Sony Vegas 8.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: A FAN MOVIE (1996)
Here's an entry from filmmaker David Moss from 1996, and for the time and limited digital rendering resources available back then, this is some remarkable 3D work. Showcases a Cylon death squad firing aft lasers at a squadron of pursuing Vipers. An interesting addition that showcases the evolution of fan films crafted with minuscule tools and a little time. Watch it again, by our command!
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BY YOUR COMMAND (2008)
Set in the world of the reimagined Ronald D. Moore BSG, this tribute film was edited, produced and directed by Colin Ross Smith's Foghorn Films for a short film competition sponsored by SYFY. Features a maintenance crew of marines trying to fix a power issue aboard a droning battlestar. Effective, efficient use of lighting, editing, and music, with a clever twist at the end. Damn skinjobs!
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL (2007)
Check out this second offering by filmmaker David Moss, who shines a light on this improved CGI project from Prince's favorite party-time year, 1999. It's an excellent marriage of old '70s TV footage and newer computer graphics, even if it was the late '90s! Makes you kinda hunger for an official remastered HD version of the original series with enhanced effects. Extra points for the catchy disco tune during the end credits.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: THE 14TH COLONY (2006)
Not all fan films that begin with a modest micro-budget and the utmost optimism end with a completed short, like this impressive trailer for a longer project that never came to fruition. But it's still a fun teaser that offers a hint at this long-lost colony and its Egyptian-influenced architecture. Produced and directed by John Rogers, with inspiring 3D models and fluid animation that gave a peek at something larger that didn't quite emerge.
A BATTLESTAR GALACTICA CARTOON (2009)
This short but sweet animated nugget has a certain addictive quality we can't quite place other than it makes us yearn for a traditionally-animated Battlestar Galactica series, pronto! Sure, it's nearly ten years old, but it instantly transports you to the style and tone of the rebooted BSG. A little cinema-verite surprise from a talented cartoonist unafraid to demonstrate the best qualities of the fan film community.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: THE FIELD (2013)
Wow, behold this two-minute marvel set in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica universe that sets you adrift in awesome outer space combat. Crafted by SoftCelAnimation and rendered in Bryce 7 enhanced with LAA, it follows the remaining ships of the Colonial Fleet and an unexpected encounter with Cylon Raiders in an asteroid field rich in Tillium.
EPIC SPACE BATTLE: GALACTICA VS STAR WARS (2013)
Two great franchises that taste great together! From handcrafted filmmaker and YouTuber snakepliskin 3, aka Christopher Ironson, comes this little digital gem that postulates what might happen if the Battlestar Galactica folks battled the Empire of Star Wars. Created with Autodesk Maya and pieced together over the course of two years, it's a superb addition to our rankings and deserves the title of Runner-Up.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: THE SECOND COMING (1999)
The late Richard Hatch, BSG's original Captain Apollo, conceived, paid for, and produced this stirring five-minute trailer to try and drum up interest in a resurrection of Battlestar Galactica. It even has John Colicos attached to the rousing promo intended to get TV executives interested in a fresh new series featuring Colonial cadets facing a new, more lethal breed of Cylons. It was a failed-but-valiant effort, directed by Hatch and Jay Woelfel, and in the true spirit of fan films we toast this effort with a gold medal.