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Fan-created Star Wars Spinoff in The Works 196

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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  • 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 jo42 ( 227475 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:03PM (#15817732) Homepage
    What do George's Lawyers have to say to this wee bit 'o news?
  • 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.
  • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:22PM (#15817877) Homepage Journal

    I know that in this day and age, it's too much to ask for the editors of a for-profit site to be competent in English, even if that's their native language. Even Associated Press articles have gotten past proofreaders with the occasional homonym slip.

    The word of the day is than .

    The word 'than' is used as a part of a comparison. Examples: it's better than nothing; it's less than thrilling; six is greater than four.

    The word 'then' is used as a conjunction. Two common cases are if-then or to establish a sequence. Examples: if he enters the biathlon then he may compete; this biathlon starts with a biking component, then ends with a running component.

    I have always boggled at how geeks must always structure and type things accurately to get computers to understand them, but then completely fail to express themselves as accurately in any other form of communication.

  • ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrippTDF ( 513419 ) <> 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.
  • by Lazarian ( 906722 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:26PM (#15817914)
    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.

  • by lecanucker ( 945957 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:26PM (#15817915)
    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 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.
  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> 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. :-)
  • by DAharon ( 937864 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:34PM (#15817979)
    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.
  • Re:SFX and quality (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ArmyOfFun ( 652320 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:36PM (#15817995)
    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. Again, one looks real, the other looks like a cartoon. (Or compare the original Jabba with the CG Jabba). Or...

    It's not that CG is better than the old ways of doing things, it's just more cost effective to use CG instead of scale models and puppets. To me though, most CG looks like ass, and I think SFX have taken quite a few steps back with their over reliance on CG.
  • by Meneguzzi ( 935620 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @02:30PM (#15819075) Homepage Journal
    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 a fan of Star Trek, but as I understand it, its fan base is much more restricted).
    The second scenario is the project to work even with untrained actors. There are movies that actually worked that way, for example City of God [], and it might even work with Star Wars as well.
  • Re:SFX and quality (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @02:30PM (#15819081)

    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 shipyard. No, scratch that, it looks exactly like the engineer dreamed it would - like no real ship ever can. It's geometrically perfect. It has clearly never seen a battle - heck, it has clearly never been used at all. Sure, you can add dirt and defects, but they all make the model more complicated, and no matter what you do, you'll never quite catch the infinite complexity of real-world defects.

    That's how you can tell a computer-generated image from a real human. Does it have visible skin pores, some of them clearly abnormally large ? Odd decolorations of skin ? Dirt beneath its fingernails ? Visible blood vessels ? Split hairs ? Old scars ? Some fat that jiggles where solid muscle should be ? Barely visible limp ? If not, it's not a human being.

    Computer generated images are perfect, and in reality nothing is perfect. That infinite depth of imperfection, which makes real beings so interesting, is simply impossible to model with a computer with current techniques. A polygon-based human is never going to pass for a real one, no matter how much effort you pour into it; there's always going to be a feeling of something being not quite right with it.

    Another example, loook at the difference between Chewbacca in the original and JarJar in the new movies. Again, one looks real, the other looks like a cartoon.

    Actually, Jar Jar is quite convincing, simply because it's not human and doesn't try to be. Pity that Jar Jar was written to be a clown with no history or personality either; with some real character Jar would actually have made a pretty good character despite the unrealness - or maybe because of it; Star Wars is, after all, at least as much fantasy as it is sci-fi.

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