Star Wars Episode VII? The Fans Strike Back: Fan Film or Geek Wars

Are you waiting with baited breath for the next trilogy in the Star Wars saga? Are you just dying to see how Luke rebuilds the Jedi order and restore justice to the galaxy? Well, if you are waiting for Gorge Lucas, you may have a long wait. Some Star Wars fans have taken matters into their own hands. Star Wars episode VII may be as close as your computer.

Advancements in digital film-making have the amateur and the not-so amateur film-makers boldly going where no fan has gone before. Sorry, wrong show. You can logon and watch a young and ambitious Darth Vader hunt down stray Jedi for his dark Sith Lord, Darth Sidious. Or maybe you just want to take a ride-along with Storm Troopers as they serve and protect the citizens of the Empire?

Fan films have been around since the early 1960s. The first known fan film is widely credited to Don Glut, a UCLA film student. Glut based his black and white films on 1940s and 1950s comic book characters. Andy Warhol produced Batman Dracula in the 1960s. It wasn’t until the science fiction conventions of the 1970s did fan films catch on. Recent advancements in digital technology and high speed Internet connections have really pushed fan films to the fore-front.

Star Wars fans didn’t start the fan film craze, but they took it to a new height. Star Wars fans lead the way with 197 fan films registered at Doctor Who comes in second with 102 fan films, followed by Batman with 60 and Star Trek with 57. Fan Film isn’t limited to Science fiction and comic books. CSI fans, horror fans and yes even the Shakespeare geeks are cranking out fan films.

I can just hear someone screaming about how illegal this all must be. All of you copyright infringement handwringers can relax. Although some studios and producers discourage the creation of fan films, they realize it would serve no useful purpose to throw fans in jail. By useful purpose I mean, if they locked up their fan base, who would go see X-Men XXVI?

Leave it to George Lucas and Lucas Films to cash in on the fan film craze. Since 2002 George Lucas has hosted an annual Star Wars Fan Film Awards. There are several categories including an Audience Choice Awards. The 2005 Audience Choice Award went to Director John E. Hudgens for his Double Spoof “Sith Apprentice”. Spoofing the successful Donald Trump reality show, “The Apprentice”, wannabe fallen Jedi compete to become the next Apprentice to the dark Sith Lord.

Not all fan films are spoofs some are very serious and follow the original storyline. Star Wars Revelations by Panic Struck Production Film takes place between Star Wars 3 and 4. The Saga unfolds as the young lord Darth Vader is hunting down stray Jedi for his dark lord. The special effects are very close to what you would expect to see from Lucas Films. To get a feel for just how serious fan film producers are take a look at the official website for “Star Wars Revelations.” You will find trailers, movie posters, post and pre-production information. You can download the entire movie to your computer or watch it directly on line. You can even view a version with full DVD menu functions.

So weather you are upset at the Hollywood “Big Wigs” for cancelling your favorite show or maybe those idiot writers (Hey! Did I just say that?), just can get the story line right, you can join the elite league of directors and producers and create your own fan film version. Or the next time you can’t find anything good on television or at the video store logon and view an episode of your favorite fan film.

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