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Indie Star Wars Movie ...


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Has anyone seen this? It's 230 megs (at least) to download but I'd love to see it if it's really that good.

http://www.slate.com/id/2117760/

May the Force Be With You, and You, and You ...

Why fans make better Star Wars movies than George Lucas.

By Clive Thompson

Posted Friday, April 29, 2005, at 1:11 PM PT

Good news, Star Wars buffs. There's a new movie out this springÑand it isn't by George Lucas. The 40-minute, fan-made Star Wars Revelations cost a mere $20,000. It's also just as good asÑand often quite better thanÑthe cringe-inducing Star Wars movies of recent years. Indeed, it's so artistically successful that it suggests a radical idea: Maybe Lucas should step aside and let the fans take over.

Our most cherished sci-fi franchises are in a creative trough. Lucas' movies have spiraled into unwatchability; Paramount has so exhausted its ideas for Star Trek that it's folding up its tent and going home. The fans, in contrast, still give a damn: The director of Revelations, Shane Felux, is clearly more knowledgeable about the strengths and weaknesses of the material than Lucas himself. Felux's movie retains the funky vibe of the original Star Wars, down to the kitschy, '70s-style wipes, the obligatory scene in an alien bar, and Darth Vader's throat-choking technique. Better yet, it jettisons Lucas' most loathed innovationsÑneither Jar Jar Binks nor any Ewoks make an appearance. Fans may be pointy-headed and obsessed with useless trivia, but they have excellent bull**** detectors.

The fans can also give Industrial Light and Magic a run for its money. When it comes to special effects, Revelations is nothing short of astonishing. Early on, there's a jaw-dropping chase scene in which the heroes' ship darts like a nimble fish through a cluttered space-yard, a fleet of TIE fighters in hot pursuit. Later, a stunning attack on an Empire Destroyer left me laughing in sheer surprise.

How could Felux produce scenes this good? Because desktop animation and editing programs like Bryce and Adobe Premiere Pro allow anyone to blow up a CGI spacecraft on a garage-band budget. What's more, Felux relied on the techniques of open-source design. Hundreds of people worldwide offered small bits of work, purely for the love of the projectÑand a chance to brag about their contribution. Felux wrangled free labor from over 30 CGI artists, including one supremely talented 16-year-old kid who lists his occupation as "being awesome." For live-action shots, Felux convinced unpaid actors and crew members to drive out to weekend shoots. When he needed uniforms for Storm Troopers and X-wing pilots, he borrowed them from fans who made their own.

Pretty freakin' awesome FX

Fan-made art is also easier to distribute than ever before. The proliferation of broadband in the past few years means that a movie doesn't have to open on 3,000 screens to get seen by millions of eyeballs. In only one week online, an estimated 1,000,000 people have already downloaded Star Wars Revelations. You can get the movie for free from various online sites or by using BitTorrentÑdon't worry, it's a legal download. BitTorrent in particular is so efficient in its use of bandwidth that I downloaded the entire 252-megabyte movie in around 12 minutes. (That's probably because 99 percent of the geeks who are into fan-created sci-fi are using BitTorrent.)

George Lucas has always encouraged Star Wars long as the wannabe auteurs didn't try to make a profit. (That's the case with FeluxÑhe isn't selling his movie or any associated merchandise.) Lucas should do more, though. Once he stops polluting the world with prequels, he should slap a liberal "Creative Commons" copyright license on the Star Wars franchise. That would explicitly allow any fan to remix an existing movie, or create a new one in homage, so long as there's no profit involved. Everyone wins: Movies like Revelations keep the fan base alive, and Lucas can continue selling figurines until the sun explodes.

This open-source method won't work for every defunct cultural property. Fan art works best when it feeds off of dweeby universes that are jam-packed with characters. It would be easy to create amateur, offshoot films based on Lord of the Rings or The Twilight Zone, and possibly even a show with a revolving-door cast like Law & Order. Shows or movies that rely on a single, charismatic actorÑlike Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire SlayerÑaren't as easy to replicate. But Buffy fans could simply create spinoffs, the way Buffy's creator churned out a series of comic books starring other teen slayers.

All fan-created movies still face two big stumbling blocks: scriptwriting and acting. Even something as polished as Revelations is occasionally marred by a boilerplate plot and wooden acting. (Though that might make the homage all the more authentic given the hollowness of Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman in Attack of the Clones.) The amateurs, it seems, cannot escape the artistic trap that ensnares big-budget sci-fi auteurs. When you fall in love with CGI effects, sometimes you forget how to deal with those quaint, un-animated properties we call "actors."

Clive Thompson writes about gaming and technology for Slate.

Stills courtesy Shane Felux. All rights reserved.

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Lucas's movies are "unwatchable". Has this guy looked at how many people are watching an unwatchable movie? I know many a SW fan who enjoys the PT. In fact I am one of them.

I like fan films but most of them are lame. The good ones like "Troops" are few and far between.

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Oh I like the PT movies just fine. I'm simply asking if anyone had seen the movie talked about in the article. I'd be interested to see it, though the huge file size makes me wary.

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If you have a fast connection, it doesn't take that long. I have broadband, and I was able to start watching within a minute of when it started downloading. The file size is 250 MB. I thought it was good, but not great. It felt more Trek-y than Star Wars-like. Very impressive, though, for amateur filmmakers.

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I've seen it - my sister did a bit of sound audio work on this film, too. (It was filmed in the D.C. area.) It's not bad - the special effects are well done, and the acting is a little shaky at spots, but it was entertaining. And the story explores a side of the Star Wars universe that hasn't been seen previously. If you are a SW fan, it's work at least taking a look at it.

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I watched the trailer and it's all you would expect it to be on a budget of $20,000. The acting is unbearable. I guess some of you will like it but I like real actors and the best special effects money can buy. I go to a movie to be entertained, I don't go to try and figure out what the Director was really trying to "say" in a certian shot. JMO

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One thing about the CGI - they had pros that put their time into the visual effects, which is why most of them are well done. I've seen other fan films where the visuals are rather crude, but the team did a good job on this one.

The fanfilm that looks pretty cool is called, IMPS, which is about some stormtroopers on the ISD Relentless.

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How can this article bash Lucas and then brag about the Indie alternative's CGI? It isn't the CGI that is crappy about Lucas' movies. That is state of the art, very creative, and what I enjoy the most about Lucas' movies.

For instance the most notable character I will be interested in this time around is the alien General.

It's everything else that is crappy. Blue screen acting is some of the hardest to pull off and no one has yet to get it down to believeable as of yet.

And the story, especially the tie in's with the OT have been abysmal. The writing is what is in much need of a sci fi makeover as far as Lucas' movies go.

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As others have mentioned, the acting leaves much to be desired, and the actors themselves are not very desireable. The visuals are on par with reruns of Lexx that apprear late night on Sci-Fi (umm insomnia).

A good effort considering the financing avaliable. However, what really stuck out to me, was the emperor. He reminded me of a corrupted Bilbo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings.

Take it for what it is, free...

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Not bad for a semi-amatuer project. The space-chase scene was excellent, and had it replaced the blockade-running scene from Episode I, Ep1 would have been a better movie.

But yeah, the acting was ... not great, and the plot was not my thing. But considering the budget it was pretty impressive.

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