RoboCop Crowdsourced: How 50 Filmmakers Remade the Cult Classic

February 12, 2014 | Andy Cush

David Seger and his friends are fighting back against the Hollywood remake machine. The ubiquitous big-budget reworkings of classic films, from Total Recall to Alice in Wonderland, inevitably twist and contort the source material, leaving fans of the originals with little recourse aside from ranting and raving on web forums and making image macros.

Seger thinks bigger than that. In anticipation of the Hollywood RoboCop remake that’s arriving in theaters today, the Los Angeles-based director assembled a team of 50 indie filmmakers to remake the classic 1987 action film themselves, with each participant directing a single scene in his or her own unique style. Fittingly, they called their version Our RoboCop Remake.

Watch their feature-length film, in all its violent, hyperactive glory, below.

“There are certain characters and films that you really grow attached to, and when you hear they’re remaking it, you know it’s going to be different,” Seger tells ANIMAL. “I’m bummed out, but I’ve come to accept the RoboCop remake. This is our way of celebrating RoboCop before this new version comes out.”

Photo: Tom Kauffman

The entire film came together over the course about four months. Seger called on friends in the filmmaking community, giving guidance as to how the plot should play out, but leaving everything else up to the directors. The result is a frantic collage of a film, with an entirely new cast, set, and style in every scene. Some filmmakers rendered their scenes in animation; others used live actors; still others opted for puppets or CGI. One memorable section cast babies in every role, with dialogue from the original film dubbed over, while another elevates an already violent moment to unspeakably gory new heights, leaving dozens of severed prosthetic penises in its wake. “People could deconstruct the scene however they wanted,” says Seger.

A pivotal scene in the original movie involves the death of Alex Murphy, the film’s police officer protagonist, who is eventually resurrected as RoboCop. For their take, the comedy group Tiger Team Awesome downplayed the original’s violence by recasting it as an interpretive dance routine. It makes for one of the film’s most surprising moments.

“We found, I’m guessing, one of the few choreographers in the world who loves RoboCop,” says Nick Mundy, who helped create the scene.

Photo: Justin Johnson

At nearly two hours long, Our Robocop Remake feels something like a drug-addled endurance test. Inevitably, some sections are weaker then others, and at a recent screening at the Lower East Side bar Culturefix, I found my mind beginning to wander off about halfway through. Then a scene would change, and we’d be in what looks like some East Asian country, or there’d be a blink-and-you-miss-it cinematic in-joke about Nicolas Winding Refn, and I’d be all in again. Watch it once, and if you’re so inclined, get stoned before you do it.

For everyone involved, the project represented not a way to turn a profit, but an opportunity to engage with and pay tribute to a film they all love. Filmmakers worked with no official budget, paying out of pocket for their scenes and making room in their often-busy schedules for production. “It’s one of those things where nobody gets paid. It’s really just a loss of money. But it’s fun,” said Michael Truly, who also worked on the dance sequence. “You hear bits and pieces of what other people are going to do, and it inspires you to work harder.”

Seger agrees. “It’s been a weird, weird experiment,” he says.

(Top photo: David and James Codeglia/Ghostlight)