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Fan-created Star Wars Spinoff in The Works 196

Posted by Hemos
from the better-then-crazy-lucas dept.
Lazarian writes "According to an article from the Edmonton Sun, director Mark Twitchell from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology has begun filming Star Wars: Secrets of the Rebellion, a non-profit venture expected to be released in 2008. From the article: "The 27-year-old Edmonton director begins shooting a feature-length independent Star Wars spin-off film at NAIT Saturday, and has amassed $60,000 to bring his dream to life. "I'm the only guy crazy enough to do this, because I'm not allowed to turn a profit. The film is for hardcore fans who miss the character development of the original trilogy.""
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Fan-created Star Wars Spinoff in The Works

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  • Too bad IMPS died. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the linux geek (799780) on Monday July 31, 2006 @11:57AM (#15817672)
    I actually really enjoyed chapter one of IMPS: The Relentless (impstherelentless.com) but it seems to have died. It's a pity; that was probably the best SW fanfilm out now.
  • Democracy does work! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by andrewman327 (635952) on Monday July 31, 2006 @11:58AM (#15817686) Homepage Journal
    This has the most potential of any story I've read on /. in a while. Like many geeks, I was terribley disapointed by the three prequels. One of my bigger complaints is the heavy handed use of digital effects. Considering this film's budget, I doubt that that will be a problem.
    • I tend to agree. Since Jurassic Park wowed audiences, filmmakers seem to haved deferred to SFX to carry the movie, instead of good acting and original storyline. Look at the immense popularity of the first SW movies, and consider that they were made on much lower budgets (even counting inflation) and primitive SFX.

      BTW - Hemos, I'm normally not the grammar Nazi type, but "from the better-then-crazy-lucas dept."? Can we at least get it right on the front page? Now cue someone pointing out some bad grammar in
      • by andrewman327 (635952) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:33PM (#15817970) Homepage Journal
        "filmmakers seem to haved deferred to SFX to carry the movie"


        Found it!

        • "filmmakers seem to haved deferred to SFX to carry the movie"

          Found it!


          BZZZT, sorry but that was the wrong answer, please play again. The question was, where is the GRAMMATICAL error in my post, not where is the TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR. Bob, is there a consolation prize for our player?

          (The poster DID specify grammar error! I love these games, it makes me a better speller and writer! :)
      • Re:SFX and quality (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ArmyOfFun (652320)
        I don't think reliance on SFX instead of plot/characters is anything new. Before CG, they just used lots of fireballs and before that it was lots of guns firing blanks.

        The problem is that CG still (typically) doesn't look as good as using scale models, puppets and costumes. The ships in the original trilogy look realistic. The new movie's ships look like cartoons; effectively, that's what they are. Another example, loook at the difference between Chewbacca in the original and JarJar in the new movies. Agai
        • Jabba (New) vs Jabba (Old)

          Excellent point. Especially when you compare the relative size of the same character in the versions of the film. New Jabba looks quite small compared to the monstrous, disgusting, and obese figure we were introduced to in Return of the Jedi. The cartooniness is repulsive (moreso than Jabba himself).
        • Re:SFX and quality (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ultranova (717540)

          The problem is that CG still (typically) doesn't look as good as using scale models, puppets and costumes.

          It's exactly the other way around. CGI looks too good. A real warship has some paint peeled off, there's some rust around, someone's coffee's been spilled on the gunner seat, there's dried muddy footprints going around the place and duct tape holding together some odd device, some doors make a screeching noise when they move no matter what you do...

          A CGI ship looks like it came straight from the s

          • Bah! It was Star Wars itself that introduced the concept of distressed vehicles and equipment, and the awesome whining and straining sound effects. Before that every spaceship was perfect. Take Star Trek and Space:1999 (please!). If you can design an elaborate ship with CG, you can design it to look like a smelly 400 lb guy spent a few parsecs in the cockpit.
          • Re:SFX and quality (Score:3, Interesting)

            by bahamat (187909)
            That isn't true. Take for example Battlestar Galactica. The ships in BSG look like they've gotten the shit kicked out of them on more than one occasion, and they're all done in CGI. Scale models can look just as pristine as CGI. It's all about the level of detail the producer deems necessary. Ron Moore gives a shit about his product and George Lucas obviously doesn't. That's all there is to it.
      • Look at the immense popularity of the first SW movies, and consider that they were made on much lower budgets (even counting inflation) and primitive SFX.

        I don't think the original effects were primitive at all. With the technology available at the time the amount of creativity that went into every aspect of the movie was incredible. Every single little detail of the film had some genius figuring out a way to make it appear as real as possible.

        As an example, my ex-father-in-law worked for a landscaping co
    • by slackmaster2000 (820067) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:28PM (#15817927)
      I would think the opposite. It must be cheaper now to do things with computers than to do them the old fashioned way. Granted this movie won't have the excessive high dollar effects of the prequels, but I'd bet that it's going to be mostly computer animation, and the cheap variety.

      Computer animation in movies is really something that I've come to despise. To me it looks considerably worse than old fashioned special effects, especially in lower budget horror and sci fi films, which are my favorite genres (or they were before everything started looking like a video game intro). That's not to say that they can't be done well, it just doesn't happen too often. I'd take the old effects in The Thing or Alien over most new films relying mostly on computer effects.
      • I agree that some costume and makeup work looks better the old-fashioned way, but I won't miss stop-motion or motion control.

        Directors tend to overuse CGI because it's easier these days, and I have an appreciation for practical effects, but I've seen a lot of great use of the technology. Despite it being very fashionable to bash it, I think special effects have never looked better, for the most part.
      • CGi in horror movies are like big breast implants on a woman. Pretty to look at, but they ain't fooling no one.
      • Granted this movie won't have the excessive high dollar effects of the prequels, but I'd bet that it's going to be mostly computer animation, and the cheap variety.

        (note: I'm in the movie)

        I don't think you have to worry about that. Firstly, the use of CGI is being very carefully undertaken... nothing overboard, nothing excessive, and nothing "we're too lazy to do this right, so let's just CGI it".
        Secondly, the CGI that is being used is FREAKISHLY top-rate. One of the ship models has 3x the polygons that the

    • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman.gmail@com> on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:32PM (#15817966) Homepage Journal
      One of my bigger complaints is the heavy handed use of digital effects. Considering this film's budget, I doubt that that will be a problem.


      If this is anything like the fan videos that have come before it, it will probably have incredibly high production values (e.g. CGI effects, space ships, awesome compositing work, and realistic weapons), but will suffer from poor audio and acting.

      For example, I was just watching the latest Star Trek: Exeter the other day. While the acting is not the worst (that title goes to a good-looking Star Wars fan film I saw a while back), it often suffers from the "spitting out the lines"-itis. Instead of training the actors and/or editing for proper timing, the actors are allowed to speak their lines one after another without any sort of pausing. The result is that they come across as emotionless actors speaking lines.

      Now Shatner did have a propensity for overacting. (It's my... ship... my... ship!) However, he was at least acting. By not taking the time to slow down and deliver the lines, the actors never manage any real emotional expression. Which makes their lines that much harder to follow.

      I say, "that much harder", because the voice audio is usually terrible in these amatuer productions. They need to either get a good mic *really* close to the actors, or they need to re-dub the audio in post-production. A combination of both wouldn't be such a bad idea. It would also help to try and clean up the audio that they do record. Try to remove any background noise or echoing (it's *really* hard to get perfectly clean audio without a sound booth) and boost the volume to be louder than the incessant background effects.

      Exeter has one more annoyance that's actually quite unique to the production. They allow the actors to make nervous movements. While it's not that big of a deal for someone to rock a chair in real life, it's incredibly distracting in a movie. Hopefully they'll realize this and make their actors sit still for their lines.

      That's my opinion, anyway. I imagine that someone trained in the field could provide more precise advice.

      FWIW, I think it's amazing what fan films have been doing these days. If we wait a few more years, we may find that what used to be Internet fan films will become the Internet television of tomorrow. I just hope someone reboots Blake's 7. It would be a wonderful show to see back on the air. :-)
      • I agree. Sound is commonly overlooked in these productions. In real productions, there is a camera man and a sound guy. Even on Dirty Jobs, there is a man with a microphone chasing the host through slimy sewers and such. I think if these volunteer producers were to learn more about sound they would be able to fix most of their problems. I had the chance to record in Gary Frey's studio in Chicagoland and realized that not all sound studios have to be professionally built with six figure budgets. You ca
      • If I may add my two cents to the discussion (bearing in mind I have no experience in movie production whatsoever), I see two possible good outcomes to this project:
        The first one would be if novice (but formally trained) actors would volunteer to take part on this project to try and project themselves into the entertainment industry. I think that this is much more likely on a Star Wars fan movie than for a Star Trek one, since SW has much more popular appeal I dont't see that as an impossibility (BTW, I'm
      • Wow. Starship Exeter is astonishingly faithful to the original. The same wooden acting, the same forced accents, and even the captain groping female members of the cast. It made me feel quite nostalgic.
      • If the shooting I've been at so far is any indication, the sound is going to be mostly redubbed. We do have a mike boom on, and there have been some good bits so far, but everyone is so committed to the quality that the audio won't escape notice. Some of the closed sets will probably use the original audio, but places like the greenscreen stage we're shooting on right now will be redone.

        That said, I'll make sure to bring that up with Mark tonight. Congratulations, you just positively affected the outcome of
        • Congratulations, you just positively affected the outcome of an entire movie. :)

          Sweet! I'm glad to have been of service. :)
          • Congratulations, you just positively affected the outcome of an entire movie. :)

            Sweet! I'm glad to have been of service. :)


            Also, you can now claim to have "given great input into the best Star Wars fan film of all time". Looks good on a resume, and it's a great line for picking up chicks.

            But I don't think I can get you in the credits. :P Sorry. :)
  • Do not want (Score:5, Funny)

    by birder (61402) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:01PM (#15817706) Homepage
    Do not want.
  • by the_tsi (19767) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:01PM (#15817708)
    "Mark Twitchell isn't a typical Star Wars fan. Rather than collect countless plastic toys or blog online with closet sci-fi nerds, he indulges his hobby in its "purest" form: film."

    uh huh. Are we ignoring the past twenty years of film school students, the vast majority of whom all envision themselves as the next george lucas and at some point in high school or college made a film that references/parodies/extends star wars in some way? Gimme a break, there's nothing special about this dork... if anything he's jumping on a trend after it's already been destroyed by the new trilogy. Great news team, Edmonton Sun.
  • by Stavr0 (35032) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:01PM (#15817710) Homepage Journal
    The film will delve into the the downfall of the Jedi, the theft of the Death Star blueprints, and the Empire's efforts to reclaim them.

    Many Bothans will die to bring us this information.

  • "I'm the only guy crazy enough to do this, because I'm not allowed to turn a profit. The film is for hardcore fans who miss the character development of the original trilogy."

    I don't think this guy understands Star Wars at all...



    • "I'm the only guy crazy enough to do this, because I'm not allowed to turn a profit. The film is for hardcore fans who miss the character development of the original trilogy."

      I don't think this guy understands Star Wars at all...


      Like any fan film, we have to make some deviations from the original...
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:02PM (#15817727) Homepage Journal
    This certainly seems to have more potential than most, but just in case one or two people on the Internet don't already know this isn't entirely a new idea. People have actually been doing Star Wars fan films for quite some time. [theforce.net]
    • And of course, Star Wars itself was not entriely a new idea [wikipedia.org], either.

    • People have actually been doing Star Wars fan films for quite some time. [theforce.net]

      I would have to say fan-films are inherent. When I was about 6 (1979) I absconded with my mother's 110 camera and setup my Star Wars action figures and X-Wing fighter on the floor and shot a 'film'. I understood the 'sequence-of-still-images' part, but not the frame rate.

      Clearly I hadn't heard about fanfilms at that time, I just had the urge to make one. People are always emulating things they enjoy. Sad to say, the p
    • (note: I'm in the movie)
      That's very true, but this is most definitely the biggest, and most ambitious. This isn't a few guys going around with a camcorder, or even several friends with a few good props. This is soundstages, greenrooms, huge sets, bona-fide hollywood propmakers and actors...

      I have full respect for all the fan films that are out there, and I've enjoyed them. This isn't meant as an insult. It's simply that this movie is larger in scale than anything that has been done before.
  • by jo42 (227475)
    What do George's Lawyers have to say to this wee bit 'o news?
    • One would hope that GL harkens back to his days as a struggling independent film-maker and gives the guy a pass. However, he is now cast in the role of studio exec and he may not be happy to hear of such a thing, especially where he receives no cut.

      Always in motion is the future.

    • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:13PM (#15817807) Homepage Journal
      Ever since the original trilogy, George Lucas has always been quietly supportive of non-commercial fan-created Star Wars stuff, even before the Internet and its resulting explosion of SW fanfic and things. I seem to remember he even judged one or two fan film competitions. I think that stance is one of the wisest moves he's ever made as grand poobah of a cultural icon.
      • Absolutely. These guys are continuing the mythos. The same mythos collected in the books Lucas gets money from, the toys that these guys might buy for the movie. The costumes they wear if bought from a store. The DVDs of the original movies, the comic book, the official script. All will be gotten by these guys for reference material.

        Basically Lucas has done what everyone else seems afraid to do. Trust in the consumer to be honest with him when buying official Star wars products. He doesn't mind if pe
    • It's a trap!
    • Did you even read the paragraph, let alone the article? Where do you think the condition of 'no-profit' came from?
      • Did you even read the paragraph, let alone the article? Where do you think the condition of 'no-profit' came from?

        It came straight from the mouth of a guy with no legal training, and apparently without enough money or sense to ask a competent lawyer.

        I can't blame the guy though. He wants very badly to make a star wars film, and he's left with a terrible dilema. He can either spend money on a lawyer and almost certainly be told that his idea opens him to untold liability, or he can go ahead and make the f

        • Or he can be a Star Wars fan, and have had the sense to go to Starwars.com [starwars.com] and seen that Lucas set up an area on his own website for Fan Films. Not only that, the area for the best of them is listed as "George Lucas selects & Audience Choice". No lawyers are needed. Lucas likes fan films.

  • The linked article is pretty content-lite, but I hope he produces something interesting and has a good time doing so.

    I have been a big fan of Pink Five [trudang.com] for some time now. It's always been funny, but the production values have been getting significantly better as the story continues.

    Although it is an apples-organges comparison, I find it interesting that fans with no budget can create movies that are more interesting and entertaining than George Lucas (Ep 1-) can with his billions!

    Maybe passion is more im

  • by StefanJ (88986) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:10PM (#15817780) Homepage Journal
    Catering (five boxes Little Debbies', two liters Mountian Dew): $7.00

    Transportation: $52

    Equipment: $3,401

    Special effects: $2,900

    Insurance: $1,200

    Legal fees in anticipation of lawsuit from Lucasfilm: $52,000
    • by JFMulder (59706) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:41PM (#15818031)
      The face on George Lucas when he sees the film and sees that it's better than what he wrote : priceless.
      • The face on George Lucas when he sees the film and sees that it's better than what he wrote : priceless.
        I'm in the movie, and I can honestly say... get a motherfreakin camera, cuz Mr Lucas is gonna have some drool on his chin.
  • 60K!!! We did these Star Trek fan films on $200!!! Weeee!

    http://www.commanderrob.com/ [commanderrob.com]

    Admittedly, the acting quality from the action figures is a little...um...stiff.

    Tod.
    • After watching the first *cough* "film", I thought you guys MUST have taken a few liberties in order to lampoon the guy. Imagine my amazement when I read the script and found such choice lines as "(raises arms) Hooray!" in it. "Commander Rob" must be happy as a clam-who-just-lost-his-pearl over these films.

      Once again, I'm amazed at how much stranger truth is over fiction.

      BTW, any chance you could publish more scripts? It's amusing to see how close the films are to the source material. :P
      • any chance you could publish more scripts?

        To answer my own question, "Commander Rob" has posted another of his scripts here:

        http://commanderriker.bravehost.com/movie_scripts. html [bravehost.com]

        The choice bit:

        SHOT: Archer is packing a shuttle craft with technology.

        Commander Rob: I can't let you do this Archer. The risk to the timeline is too great!

        Archer: I have to, I can't let Earth be destroyed.

        Archer reaches for his phaser in slowmotion. Rob reaches for his in slowmotion. Archers beam shoots wide of Rob, and Rob's beam

  • Profit only helps better quantify the damage to the intellectual property. What part of derivative works does this guy not understand?
  • by mrshowtime (562809) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:16PM (#15817831)
    I think most Star Wars Fan films do try and not suck, but mostly all of them end up becoming a lightsaber/cgi fest with no story or plot. Ironically, much the same could be said about the "new" trilogy. The only good fanfilm I have seen that is coming out is http://www.tydirium.tv/ [tydirium.tv] they actually built a huge Star Destroyer model and had real sets.
  • And I'm supposed to believe he can find better actors, can direct better and will write a better story than we already have. All for $60,000?

    I expect terrible actors, terrible direction and even worse dialogue. All compounded with: bad FX, worse audio and a poor cinematography.

    Yeah... this sounds like it's going to save Star Wars.
    • by 0123456 (636235) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:26PM (#15817910)
      "And I'm supposed to believe he can find better actors, can direct better and will write a better story than we already have."

      Would be difficult to do worse than 'Phantom Menace'. Though, to be fair, it's not the actor's fault that they suck ass in the movie.

      "I expect terrible actors, terrible direction and even worse dialogue."

      If they can write worse dialog than George Lucas, they deserve an award.
    • Yeah... this sounds like it's going to save Star Wars.

      It's not supposed to save anything. It's a fan-made film. For fans.

    • It isn't as if the original Star Wars was a multi-million dollar production. Lucas was able to get by with a rather small budget. And let's not forget, good writing doesn't cost millions. Good direction doesn't cost millions. Young people with the hunger and the talent to make something good aren't limited by money. Other than the original Star Wars, Rocky comes to mind. There are many more examples out there.
  • thatcantalk

    like

    James T.

    Kirk?
    • That's Star Wars, not Star Trek.

      However, if they want to guarantee a success, they could always have someone dressed as a Wookiee beat the crap out of someone dressed as a Vulcan. I can think of lots of fans (of both series, actually) that would enjoy watching that. Including me :)

  • ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrippTDF (513419) <hiland AT gmail DOT com> on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:24PM (#15817894)
    My problem with the fan films is fans thinking they can act, and they can't.

    Lucas had shitty, crappy dialogue in the new trilogy, and that held a lot of the actors back... Natalie Portman and Ewan MccGreggor have done impressive stuff in the past, and the reason they looked so bad in these movies was due to the poor script, the actors did what they could with what they were given.

    Now, when these indie SW films seem to get fans to play the parts. Even if you have a good script, these people have no idea what they are doing, and it shows. The same way that Lucas can make his actors look bad with a bad script, bad actors can make a good script look bad.

    Here's to hoping he ropes in real actors, even if they don't give to shits about SW than using a bunch of fanboys who they they know what they are doing.
    • Here's to hoping he ropes in real actors, even if they don't give to shits about SW than using a bunch of fanboys who they they know what they are doing.
      I have a bad feeling about this...
    • Reacting and interacting.

      Actors don't just spend 1.5 hours working with each other they spend months and years learning each other's personalities so that they can interact like they know each other.

      Reacting to each other well and modifying your lines and character to match what's going on seperates the real actors... from star trek fans who've watched the movie 100 times all want the facial expression of Boba Fette and have no self image and wierd tension even with their friends and co-stars.

      The dire
  • by lecanucker (945957)
    To heck with whatever copyright laws he may be breaking - Let's see how he does. The chances are nobody will ever hear of this movie again, and that it will crash and burn miserably. But George Lucas couldn't sell the original to studios and it turned out to be not bad for everyone. Let em play with his money. He could spend $60,000 on a car, but then he couldn't superimpose his face over Lukes as the deathstar blows up. I don't see how it could be much worse than the prequels.
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv.gmail@com> on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:36PM (#15817997) Homepage
    "Making films ain't like dustin' crops boy!"

    "It's as if a thousand Lucas lawyers suddenly cried out, and then were silent."

    "That's no Lucas bomb, it's a fan flick!"

    "He better get those Mt. Dew Bottles to editing by tomorrow morning, or there'll be hell to pay."

    And finally, said the director of the fan film to Lucas: "Would someone get this walking carpet out of my way."
    • More accurately, in response to any new Star Wars thing:

      "NOOOO!!!!!!"

      (I had more O's and more !'s, but the /. lameness filter intercepted my post and prevented it. Sadly, the irony didn't reach Mr. Lucas FIRST.)
  • Cast (Score:5, Informative)

    by dafz1 (604262) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:39PM (#15818009)
    There are some "Official" Star Wars actors in the movie.

    Included in the cast:

    Zach Jensen: Jedi Master Kit Fisto (Episode 2)

    AND

    Jeremy Bulloch: BOBA FETT!!!! Ok...he won't play Boba Fett in this movie.
  • You aren't the first (Score:4, Informative)

    by LuminaireX (949185) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:48PM (#15818098)

    "I'm the only guy crazy enough to do this, because I'm not allowed to turn a profit."

    Actually, you're not the first and only guy, and I doubt you'll be the last. Come on, this was only a year ago! Star Wars Revelations [ifilm.com]

    If I'm not mistaken, that one sucked too

  • by sesshomaru (173381) on Monday July 31, 2006 @01:20PM (#15818379) Journal
    I think it's sad that no one ever pays attention to any of Leigh Brackett's [kirjasto.sci.fi] other work. Sure, Empire Strikes Back was a fine film with crackling dialogue, but I can vaugely remember some of her other Space Operas from when I was a kid (mostly short stories). (Time to buy some books, I guess.)

    I'd really like to see Space Opera make a comeback, but it seems unlikely with the failure of Serenity at the box office.

    • I'd really like to see Space Opera make a comeback, but it seems unlikely with the failure of Serenity at the box office.

      Whoa there! The financials for Serenity are hard to judge unless you look closely. Even though the box office take for Serenity seemed lackluster, a little inspection of the numbers reveals a different story. First, it wasn't taken seriously by the studio, who released the film in about half as many theaters as it could have -- something like 1500 theaters in the U.S. The Jodi Foster f

  • by Mister Whirly (964219) on Monday July 31, 2006 @02:30PM (#15819077) Homepage
    Help me Slashdot, I'm confused...

    Am I supposed to hate this because it is "new" Star Wars and will have lots of CGI, or am I supposed to love it because it is a fan film and not Lucas?? Tell me what to think!

    Please hurry, I want to make up my mind before I see it...
  • "I'm the only guy crazy enough to do this, because I'm not allowed to turn a profit."

    Crazy? I don't think so. It is well known that [wikipedia.org] even if you make a successful movie, you don't make a movie to make a profit [wikipedia.org].
  • I am so hyped to read this, because I'm in the movie!!!11one!! It's freakin awesome... we just shot the Cantina scene, it kicks ass... there's just too much to say. Mark is doing a great job, the cast is great, the sets are awesome... and the story is damn good too. I don't think anyone is going to be disappointed.

    The best part is that everyone involved in the project is such a huge geek, and Star Wars fan, that everything just comes together perfectly.

    Everyone needs to go Slashdot XPress Entertainment [xpressentertainment.ca]. Tha

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