Jordan Richards holding a lightsaber.
Earlier this year, a comedian friend of mine told me about a local filmmaker named Jordan Richards, who is so completely obsessed with Quentin Tarantino that he recreated Pulp Fiction, in its entirety, with almost no budget, using a $100 video camera. Not only did he reshoot the film scene by scene, he re-sequenced it into a linear order. His 90 minute recreation of Pulp Fiction, which he called Butch, used up all of his friends’ free time who acted in the project, and the movie completely took over Jordan’s life for months. After it was done, he moved immediately onto a recreation of Inglorious Basterds, which he completed in full, and now he’s in the midst of pre-production for his own version of Django Unchained. It is an insane amount of work to simply reproduce someone else’s work, especially when no one besides friends and family will probably ever watch the end product. Jordan Richards makes career cover bands look like a bunch of lazy frauds.
A scene from Jordan's version of Inglorious.
That said, it’s not hard to imagine why Jordan’s films have not become a “thing.” Why watch someone’s $0 Pulp Fiction when you could just watch Pulp Fiction? Who, really, wants to watch a version of Inglorious Basterds without Brad Pitt that was largely shot in a Toronto park? The answer to those questions may be obvious, but there’s something about the obsessive level of effort that Jordan has put into these films that make them fascinating. After several conversations with Jordan, it’s still been difficult to pinpoint exactly why he goes through all this work, but the answer probably lies somewhere in a region between OCD and a very strong, personal dream to become a Tarantino-esque filmmaker.
Given the re-sequencing of time in Jordan’s version of Pulp Fiction, and certain creative liberties he took with his version of Inglorious Basterds, he’s decided to go with the term “bizarro fiction” to describe the work that he does. In his version of Inglorious, for example, there’s a whole sequence wherein Orson Welles’ is shown discussing the events of WWII from Hollywood. It’s an absurd aside that Jordan just thought the film might need.
A clip from Jordan's take on Pulp Fiction.
Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to attend an advance screening of Django Unchained where I was granted a red carpet spot to speak with Quentin Tarantino in the midst of pushy, Canadian media personalities and rude paparazzi photographers. Given that my audience with Tarantino himself was only about 70 seconds, and that I wasn’t interested in asking him things like, “What’s it like to have an Oscar?” or “Why did you cast Jamie Foxx in Django?” (looking at you, Entertainment Tonight) I decided to turn my time with Tarantino into a surprise gift for Jordan.It’s Christmas. Think of it as a one-time VICE Make-a-Wish for a weirdo, independent filmmaker.
I told Quentin Tarantino about Jordan’s work and gave him a couple of copies of his cheaply made homage films. Tarantino seemed faintly amused, and referenced that old, cheap, indie remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark that some other kids made, then he walked away. Jordan doesn’t have his contact info anywhere on the DVDs and I surely didn’t think to write it on there. Did Quentin throw the movies out? Is he watching them right now? Who knows, but you can watch Quentin’s reaction below.
I brought Jordan into the VICE office, without telling him why I needed him to come in, and showed him the clip of Tarantino and I. He started laughing a lot, and said: “I hope I don’t get sued. I hope I didn’t offend him with the chronological order thing.” After assuring him that I didn’t see an emotionally wounded Tarantino, or an angry litigator seeking copyright damages in his future, he seemed pretty happy about the whole thing. If you’re into extremely low budget tribute films, look for Jordan’s Django sometime in 2013.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @patrickmcguire