Return to The Han Solo Chronicles: An Interview with Director, Matt Mickelson by Miriam Orr
Not so long ago, in a galaxy much like our own, a father and his daughters endeavored on a journey that would, perhaps, change their lives forever. Birthed out of the boredom of (during) a break from school, came the simple request of two daughters disillusioned with a galaxy far, far away, (asked Dad if they could use the green screen to make a star wars movie.)
At least, that’s how one can imagine the story beginning. It wasn’t so long ago in 2014 that Matt Mickelson stood at the forefront of what would become the undertaking of his life. With his two daughters, 12 and 9, Mickelson set to making himself and his family their very (first) Star Wars fanfilm, which would later become, “The Han Solo Chronicles”.
Back in May, I had the express privilege of first interviewing Mickelson just when he was putting the finishing touches on the series and getting them ready to go live on Youtube. Since then, his films have garnered attention, (many PODcasts), and have earned him a public screening in New York [date and time], where the native and his family presently reside. As follows in the interview I had with him.
Let’s recap – could you explain the Chronicles in a quick recap?
Mickelson: Sure. The series is set really thirteen years after Return of the Jedi and the Battle of Endor. Han and his kids are really, at this point, running around and doing diplomatic missions together while Mom is out on Rebellion business. They’re devoting their time to helping other systems and slipping past the Empire’s admirals who are constantly after them. They get caught, and slip away, more than once.
Sounds like the Solo’s have been busy. Any particular reason why you decided on thirteen years after ROTG?
Mickelson: Well, it made sense. The kids and I were around the right age for the story to work.
Why Han Solo? Do you have an affinity with him?
Mickelson: Han is a good guy, deep down. Originally he comes across as the cynical, ( a self centered Jerk ) scruffy looking nerf herder, but inside he’s a great guy who’s willing to help people. I like to think that at this point, he and Leia went off and got married and started a family, and that having kids and a wife has softened him up a little. Also, I’d done some Bladerunner work in the past and was already familiar with [Harrison] Ford and could pull him off quite well. I also didn’t want to pursue a Jedi-esque story, since so many other people do it (and the CGI is spendy!). I wanted something original. (in the star wars universe)
Just out of curiosity – do you intend to pursue any work surrounding the Prequel films?
Mickelson: Right now, I’m really pursuing the original films. That’s my focus. It appeals to me as a filmmaker just because those first films were “it” when I was a kid. There’s something about them as a filmmaker that are nostalgic and whimsical. And, also, if I were to do something surrounding the Prequels, it would have to go out of the house. And we all know how expensive that can be when you’re filming out of your budget. It’s cheap to work for myself [laughs].
What was the road to getting to the screening? The journey, if you will?
Mickelson: If you think about it, I just made what was probably in my head when i was 10 years old running around playing STAR WARS, the dream was that the Millennium Falcon would land in my back yard and Han, Luke and the gang would need an extra hand for a few weeks, maybe get a kiss from princess Leia……who knows! But, on a more serious note — It was a simple thought, really: “Let’s do a Star Wars home project”, just for the heck of it.
I did some looking online and found some royalty free CGI software clips, and played around with it. Did some bare-bones stuff, and found some of the sound effects on Youtube, odd stuff like that. Then, in 2015, I met some guys from the 501st Legion at Comicon in New York, and got them on board with their gear. They were able to pull Boba Fett in and then I decided to take it and run with it and pull it together into a thirty minute ditty. We sort of rolled with it as the Comicon guys came and went, because we couldn’t pass up opportunities like that. I didn’t want the weight of having to change a script to slow us down, so we just…did it. It’s really “adapt and overcome”, and “on the fly” filmmaking at its finest, I guess.
So, who’s involved? Anyone noteworthy?
Mickelson: Some individuals that I really want to shout out a thanks to are, of course, the guys from the 501st – you know who you are! They’ve been spectacular, I’ve really got to hand it to them. Then, you know, my kids; and the neighbor who plays the lead villain. Then I have an actor friend who’s done work on Law and Order, House of Cards, that type of thing who has really brought a lot of depth and meaning to the scenes. He gives it weight and credence, for sure. Then, you know, all the people who came out for the screening – the people from the Sci-Fi Channel who gave the express compliment of not realizing it was so well developed.
How did you go about developing your Han Solo character – did you study Harrison Ford, or did you add some differences?
Mickelson: Well, you have to account for some differences, because this is indeed a different Solo. He has two daughters in the wake of ROTJ. I, for the most part, try to keep it even because the embodiment of Ford is so near-and-dear to the fan audience. I don’t do a terrible Ford, as I said from my work in Bladerunner, but there are some key differences. Learning the mannerisms and voice pattern came in Bladerunner. I just try to embody his cavalier, self-reliant, flip attitude [laughs].
What do you hope to accomplish with the films? The screening?
Mickselon: Aside from landing a Star Wars job [laughs]? I really want the public to take notice of the work that was done and get behind it. I also want my skills as a filmmaker and an actor to grow, and I want it to be beneficial to my kids and their abilities, too. As for the screening, well; I want, I guess, publicity – if that’s not shallow [laughs]. ( every film you make gets you closer to making it, if I can turn HSC into a job with Marvel or Lucas film, that would be a dream come true.)
What’s your favorite scene in the film?
Mickelson: Oh, wow. That’s hard. I particularly love the interrogation, since that was just a blast to do. But, probably, hands down is the Millennium Falcon escape – I really had to stretch to do that and pulled something out of nowhere. It was just an overall fun thing to do.
What are the next steps, right now?
Mickelson: Right now, I want to do hold off on letting the thirty-minute short-film go live on Youtube. I want to screen it around NYC a little more and get it out there. I’m working on renting out some venues to help me do that. Videology in Brooklyn is screening us Dec 4 at 3pm. ComicCons across the country would be great as well as getting it in front of Marvel / Disney, a place I’m trying to get my foot in the door, specifically.
And, finally – how has this experience grown your love for Star Wars?
Mickelson: I’ve learned to appreciate the cosplay community, and the seriousness of ( the people who love to do it and that it has become a huge ) business. They do a spectacular job, (they are so dam committed) Also, I’ve learned to love the franchise on another level as an actor and as a filmmaker – getting to be a part of recreating the nostalgia and magical gift that keeps on giving is a wonderful experience. That’s the stuff that holds a place in people’s heart – it’s a dedication to mythology. It’s understanding the universal message of hope and helps you make the next step that I’ve always loved, and love even more now that I get to take part in it.
Overall, Mickelson’s screening in NYC was a success. There was a good audience, despite the fact that he admitted to having poorly advertised the event. He hopes to, in the future, spend his wares advertising future screenings and investing into the project more in that way.
It seems, perhaps, that this Solo family and their films have something to get cocky about, after all.
To learn more about or to see all films from Matt Mickelson, visit the official Youtube page: https://www.youtube.com/user/bigfun10
Check out our original interview with Matt Mickelson HERE: http://starwarsreporter.com/2016/05/04/fanfilms-gone-solo-the-han-solo-chronicles/
Miriam Orr has dreamed of writing adventures to capture audiences from all walks of life since the age of five. Currently, she is pursuing the adult world as a graduate of Minnesota’s own Crown College with a Bachelor’s in Communication, if one can even begin to understand the trade. If there is one thing she has learned, it is that life never goes according to plan, so it’s best to have a plan B – and, you might as well have the rest of the alphabet planned out, too. They probably won’t go according to plan, anyway. Her passions and writing interests range from science-fiction to Christian living, but mostly consist of ridiculous action- adventure plots and film scripts. She hopes to live life according to Isaiah 6:8, found in the holy scriptures of Yahweh, and pursue Hollywood as a filmmaker and scriptwriter. You can follow her on instagram (@miriamruthorr), or through Facebook.