Category Archives: Fan Films

Breaking Belding & Better Reach Screech

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Breaking Belding is something I normally wouldn’t touch on this blog: basically an eight minute tribute to both Saved by the Bell and Breaking Bad, a mash up of the two series in an attempt to make you laugh. I didn’t laugh once during it, and I normally wouldn’t hold that against it being that it’s a well-intentioned fan film. After all, I’m not a huge fan of Breaking Bad, so maybe there’s something here that I’m not seeing.

But then I realized who was playing Screech in it:

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Yes, Dustin Diamond appears in this strange little film, meaning that it qualifies for the odds and ends of the post-The New Class era. I’m becoming convinced that Dustin Diamond will appear in just about anything that’s thrown at him to keep himself in the spotlight. If this was Dennis Haskins, I would say he was just being a nice guy. But, after having endured the horror that was Behind the Bell, I’m convinced that this is just Dustin Diamond keeping his ego alive that someone gives a shit about him.

Directed in 2013 by Sandeep Parikh, a guy I’ve never heard of but who’s apparently been in a bunch of shit I’ve also never heard of, and distributed by website The NerdistBreaking Belding recreates one of the scenes from the first episode of Breaking Bad. Whereas, in Breaking Bad, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman were in a RV in the desert making a batch of cocaine, Mr. Belding and Zack Morris are creating the world’s most pure batch of caffeine pills called Zack Attack. Like I said, I won’t fault them on the implausibility of this shit given it is just a loving fan film.

Basically, Max shows up and wants to arrest them but is distracting by Screech acting like a dumb ass. Then Lisa and Tori show up, guns a blazing, to try and steal the caffeine pills, but Slater blows them up before they can. Zack Morris uses a time out to save Mr. Belding and himself before the explosion and pulls Mr. Belding’s pants off in the process, driving off into the sunset. Yeah, it’s as weird as it sounds.

The whole cast is here, and I don’t get most of the Breaking Bad references. Max is a DEA agent who does magic. Screech is a lawyer. Kelly od’ed on caffeine pills. Jessie is an addict who takes Zack Attack. Slater is in a wheelchair for reasons I didn’t fully grasp. And Lisa and Tori are drug buyers. Like I said, I don’t get it, but I guess I’m not truly the target audience for this one, although there are in-jokes, like Zack Morris talking about delivering Little Zack and Jessie recreating the infamous freak-out scene from “Jessie’s Song.” And, of course, Zack Morris using a time out.

Other than Dustin Diamond, there are no actors of note in this, which is to be expected from a fan film. Some of the actors cast, though, are actually right on. Brendan Bradley as Zack Morris and Alicia Marie as Lisa are right on. Others not so much. Brian Palermo as Mr. Belding was pretty bad and wearing an obvious bald wig while I never would have guessed Todd Stashwick was playing Max if they hadn’t referenced him by name as the actor looked nothing like Max. I guess you can’t expect too much out of a fan film, but they had the budget to bring in Dustin Diamond so I have to expect at least a little better out of them.

And, I have to admit, Dustin Diamond isn’t annoying as shit in this as he doesn’t try to do some horrible The New Class high-pitched voice. He does come off as the douche he is playing a sleazy lawyer, which may be just as well. In any case, for once he isn’t the worst thing about something related to Saved by the Bell.

To promote the short film, there were also two commercials created for the fake spin-off, Better Reach Screech.

The first is Dustin Diamond advertising he’ll sue anyone, anytime and shit, which is quite ironic considering the pariah Dustin Diamond has made of himself.

The other basically just gives different examples of things you can sue for.

Like I say, these are definitely not my thing so don’t let me dissuade you if they sound interesting. If you enjoy both Saved by the Bell and Breaking Bad, you may want to check it out, and it’s only eight minutes of your life. The worst that will happen is you’ll have to watch Dustin Diamond briefly again.

Saved by the Belding

In 2010, two brothers, Matt and Scott Hamilton, directed a short fan film about a group of four friends who not only think Rod Belding, Mr. Belding’s irresponsible brother, is real, but that he didn’t actually stand up the Bayside students on their rafting trip for a girl, and actually had the flu as Mr. Belding told them. When I first about this short film, I thought it sounded intriguing and, at twenty-two minutes, wouldn’t take a long time to watch.

Even more fascinating is that these young filmmakers got Dennis Haskins and Ed Blatchford , who played Rod in the episode “The Fabulous Belding Boys,” involved (Blatchford even helped write and produce the short!). This was no small feat considering that, according to IMDB, the entire thing was shot on a budget of $3,000. I know Dennis Haskins has a reputation for being a really nice guy and supporting fans, but I figured there had to be something he and Blatchford saw in this project in order to get involved. After all, Blatchford basically came out of retirement to do the short; he hadn’t had a project in five years and hasn’t been in anything since.

Indeed, there was something to this neat little film.

The genesis for Saved by the Belding was actually the Hamilton brother’s previous short, 2009’s Lost Heroes: Rod Belding. Shot in the style of True Access HollywoodLost Heroes features interviews with four young men who believe Saved by the Bell was a documentary about the real life antics of Bayside High, and that Rod Belding was a real person who inspired them to greatness. The nine minute short posits that everything started going wrong at Bayside after Rod disappeared, including Jessie getting hooked on caffeine pills, Slater and Jessie breaking up, and Tori’s existence. (I know they got the timelines a bit wrong, but I forgive them for this because I genuinely laughed at this, and I would like to blame Screech being at Bayside during The New Class on Rod’s disappearance.

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This apparently lead them to expand the concept into the longer Saved by the Belding, shot in documentary style and following the action real time. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the Hamilton brothers have removed the short from their YouTube channel so all that is still online is the trailer. As such, I’ll be working from memory on the details. I hope one day they restore the full short so it can be appreciated by a wide audience.

The basic premise is that the four main interviewees from Lost Heroes are in a Rod Belding support group being lead by a psychologist who is a “Rodologist.” They are constantly at each other’s throats about whether Rod actually had the flu or not, and asides from the psychologist reveal he knows Rod Belding isn’t real, but realizes his patients aren’t getting anywhere with their therapy. As such, he decides to send them to California to find Rod Belding.

In California, they actually do find Ed Blatchford, who initially thinks, with the cameras around, they’re a crew from True Hollywood Story. Ed eventually figures out they’re not from the show, but still plays along, even letting them call him Ed and inviting them out for dinner.

But, at dinner, Ed runs into a female acquaintance in town for the night who wants to have some fun with ole’ Eddy. He decides to ditch the four, and Dennis Haskins randomly shows up for a recreation of the scene from “The Fabulous Belding Boys” where Mr. Belding chews out Rod for ditching the students as Ed basically takes the line of, “What the fuck are you doing, Dennis?” Instead of Zack Morris, this time one of the four overhears, and Dennis ends up having dinner with the four instead, with the one who overheard remarking, as before, they got the better Belding.

The short is magnificently shot, especially considering the budget they were working with. It could actually be believed that they were doing a documentary on four really naive kids who wanted to find the real Rod Belding. I can’t emphasize enough as well how awesome it is that both Haskins and Blatchford were so heavily involved in the project. It really is awesome that they support their fans so much they did this.

In the end, it’s a good-spirited send up of “The Fabulous Belding Boys” and Saved by the Bell in general. You can tell those involved in the making of the short are fans and having a lot of fun in the production. I have made my opinion abundantly clear on numerous occasions that I think “The Fabulous Belding Boys” is the best episode of the original class, so I think it’s great that the film picked this episode to do a parody of. I feel like, if they had focused on other episodes such as “Jessie’s Song” or “Running Zack,” it could have felt really overdone considering how cliche those episodes have become. But “The Fabulous Belding Boys” is just well known enough that the whole concept feels original, funny, and a little believable, since the inability to tell the difference between fiction and reality is a real mental condition.

The Hamilton brothers appear to have moved on to other ventures after directing just a few more shorts, which is a shame since they’re clearly talented. They each did a bit of work on legit documentaries, so it would be interesting to see what else they could do. And, hell, with their connections, maybe they could even do a send up to the horrible Lifetime biopic.

In any case, next week we’ll look at a second fan film, one I’m not as big a fan of.