Star Wars fan film creators have significantly contributed to the Star Wars genre. Their love for the franchise has resulted in a vast and diverse range of fan films that have expanded the Star Wars universe in unique and exciting ways. These fan films often explore lesser-known characters, planets, and story lines, providing fans with a deeper understanding of the Star Wars universe beyond what is presented in the official canon. Fan films also allow fans to express their creativity and showcase their talents, whether it’s in film making, acting, or special effects. This, in turn, inspires other fans to pursue their passions and contribute to the community. Fan films often have a more personal touch than official productions, as fans make them for fans. Because of this, they can bring out a more emotional response from the fandom and help to build a stronger connection between fans and the franchise.
They also help keep the franchise alive during the time in between projects. The years between the original trilogy’s release and the prequel trilogy were particularly challenging for Star Wars fans. However, the fan film community filled this void by constantly creating new content, keeping the Star Wars fandom active and engaged. Fan films also allow the community to explore the universe in ways that official productions might not be able to. In my opinion, Star Wars fan films have become an integral part of the Star Wars community, and their contributions have helped to keep the franchise alive and thriving.
One such film maker is Matt Mickelson who, with his family, has created a series of fan films called, “The Han Solo Chronicles.” He recently shared a teaser trailer for the project and agreed to an interview.
What inspired you to create a Star Wars fan film?
My 9 and 13 year old girls wanted to play with the green screen and that is a lot of work. I just had my BLADE RUNNER project crushed by Warner Bros. in 2013, so I was happy to play Harrison Ford playing Han Solo. I wrote a few simple scenarios and set up the screen, made some props and costumes with stuff we had lying around the house. I found free animated SW ships on Youtube and started to play with them and it really started to look like something.
How did you choose the storyline for your fan film?
The Story is simple. 13 years after Jedi, Han and Leia had some kids ages match. Kylo was not a thing yet, so that was not even a consideration. In Star Wars the good guys, get caught, get away, get caught and get away, again like A New Hope. I found Animated Stormtrooper, but in 2015 they were not great. Later, I met some Mandalorians at NYC-Comic Con as they were loading an R2 into their van – I asked if they knew any storm troopers and they said SURE, then I asked if I could shoot / film them – this lead to Boba Fett – NOW I have to figure how he fit him in the story…. in 2015. Way before Lucasfilm was thinking about any new shows. They knew Imperial Officers, and other people. I brought in some ACTOR friends to play the BAD GUYS to give the story some seriousness.
What was your favorite part of the filmmaking process?
The best part is getting to “nerd out” with my kids and show them other Dads nerd out too, and it is OK to be dorky about something you love. Also, my oldest took a real interest in filmmaking. Hopefully I’ll be working for her in the future. I like every step of filmmaking. I can do most of the jobs except find money, the writing, crafting a story, shooting, editing, making music fit, telling a story and “jamming” with other people. I get to use all of my creative outlets and my knowledge from working as a filmmaker and professional cameraman.
How important was it to include your family in the film and share in your love of Star Wars?
I was glad to have another way to play with my kids. Star Wars was a big part of my development since 1977. It really helped a generation use their imagination in a bigger way. I am disappointed when SW is not done well or to the high bar of EMPIRE, but THE BUSINESS of filmmaking and the executives trying to squeeze money out of everything can kill a project or just make it boring. You never know what you will get in the end. If you start with bad writing and vision, nothing will save it.
You may also like: An Interview with “Power: A Star Wars Story” Fan Film Creator, Avery Bazan
What do you think sets your fan film apart from other Star Wars fan films?
I worked on PITCHING LUCAS in 2006. It is about pushy FOX Execs pitching George bad ideas based on 1970′ and 80’s TV shows, like chips, or Charlie’s Angels – it is really good. Director Shane Felux did the CGI WAY before blender an all that stuff. He made REVELATIONS. Most fan films are done as jokes or comedy or spoofs or are not ABOUT ANYTHING, they are just SW characters talking or fighting or a JEDI in the woods…angry about something, and there are some ANDOR type films about people affected by the Empire. That JAMIE COSTA guy has knocked a lot out of the park HAN SOLO , KENOBI – that guy is amazing. His Robin Williams short shredded me, so good.
What was the most difficult scene to film, and how did you overcome any obstacles during filming?
On episode 2, I was standing next to a 7ft Chewbacca in the PA desert waiting for C3PO to get fix, because his leg or butt kept breaking, I realized this is what it was like for George, everything falling apart while you are trying to do 3 days of shooting in 1, all these volunteers (Star Wars nuts) standing around waiting for YOU to give them thier next mission or set up. Getting what I wanted with no time or money was the hardest thing, but this is a volunteer operation. Lucas Film says we can not make $ or sell tickets to play nice in StarWarsVille, GREAT! so people bring food, I rent a porta potty- rent a hotel room, buy people dinner, coffee and donuts, and everyone has a blast! ( this is episode 2 )
Are there any particular fan films that inspired you or that you admire?
Jamie Costa stands-out. There were a few that were very artful, but most lack a serious story or believable characters, butfilmmaking is a TON of work. it is not easy at all. Anyone who finishes anything is a dam hero in my book. Crafting a story and making it work is hard, that is why movies take 5 years to make even if they have a ton of money.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to create their own Star Wars fan film?
JUST DO IT! But have an outline of what story you are telling. Star Wars OG is just a family story – with HERO JOURNEY STUFF BAKED IN. THANK GEORGE!! If you spend money on props costumes with NO story – it is just cool stuff standing around.
Mark Hamill once referred to many in the Star Wars community as “UPFs” or Ultra Passionate Fans. Star Wars has devout fans who are both divided and dedicated when it comes to their love of Star Wars. Are you concerned with how the fans will respond to your fan film?
90% have been positive since 2016. there are some “trolls” who complain about the props before reading the sentence below that says “we made stuff out of things found at home” or that the kids are bad actors. Many people out there think this is easy and we all have a million dollars laying about, but those people are also just complaining from a lazy boy chair or BOT world trying to start an argument so they have something to do. I want people to love it much as I do, I talk constructive comments all the time….. and use them. Some detractors have often ended up helping us. But if you are a jerk you are gone or deleted from the conversation. For the 2ND episode all our PROPS are spot on. I have a real blaster, a real Chewbacca, a real C3PO, Stormtroopers and VFX that looks like the REAL DEAL.
There has been many sci-fi movies and franchises throughout the years. What is it about Star Wars that has appealed to fans for over 46 years and how has it influenced you in your career and personal life?
The smart thing George Lucas did was make the story a common story that every religion and society has, THE HERO’S JOURNEY. That is why it appeals to EVERYONE ON THE PLANET. And no one likes a bully, and everyone likes to overcome the bully. That is why “British Space Nazis” are the best. ironically they get bullied by Vader. I got to meet FRANK OZ, LAWRENCE KASDAN, BEN BURT, RALPH McQUARIE, DENNIS MURREN – I was interviewing them for PBS at the DC Smithsonian in 1998 – I should have asked them for a job, but I was so afraid of getting fired I kept it professional – that was stupid. I was just trying not to be a silly fan boy.
It’s been 46 years since Star Wars first released in theaters and we are still talking about it today! What is it about Star Wars that attracts fans to a galaxy far, far away?
I talk about this on the radio show CENTER STAGE with Pamela Kuhn. Star Wars made such an impact on a global generation, MAY 1977. Remember it was up against HERBY THE LUV BUG and THE DEER HUNTER for the attention of kids and teenagers – and it blew everyone out of the water and everything STEVEN and GEORGE came out with after was magic. It had the same feel the bar had been raised higher of what people/fans expected from movies. As humans, movies are our magic.
To learn more and to follow The Han Solo Chronicles, visit the official channel.