Fan Films have become a huge cottage industry in the past few years. With hundreds produced in the US and abroad, the quality ranges from cinematic on down to embarrassing, and the writing runs the gamut from hokey-jokey to breathtaking. The rising tide of these, and the emergence of venues like “Youtube,” have produced a flood of amateur production that quickly evolved from illegal copyright-infringing pastiches to semi-officially tolerated large-budget productions cranking out series of episodes. We here at Republibot are utterly fascinated by this phenomenon and its attendant subculture. It goes without saying that the overwhelming majority of these films are Science Fiction, however even if they were all shooting westerns we’d still be amazed by their moxie and resourcefulness. Thus, we here at Republibot are very happy to be interviewing one of the more accomplished members of this subculture.
Our guest today is Charlie Starr, who made a Star Wars Fan Film a few years ago, and is also a prolific writer. Charlie, thanks for being with us today. You are, in fact, our first interview on the site.
CHARLIE: It’s great to be able to share with you through the magic of sub-space.
REPUBLIBOT 3.0: We're very happy to have you with us. People have been making what we now call 'fan films' for ever - I remember kids shooting them on super-8 when Star Wars came out 30 years ago - but the whole thing seems to have snowballed in the last couple years, to the point where it's now it's own burgeoning cottage industry. What do you attribute this to?
CHARLIE: The fan film phenomenon itself is born of a love for the show or movie. It’s not enough that we watch, we want to enter into the story ourselves. Professional film makers constantly say that their childhood love of movies is what pushed them into the industry. So the impulse is the same for pros and amateurs alike. As for the burgeoning of the fan film, I think the answer (though there may be other factors) is the digital revolution. If I had tried to make a Star Wars fan film ten years ago it would have been impossible because of cost. Digital video and editing have cut all those costs to practically nothing. More people are making movies now because they can afford to. What sci-fi fan doesn’t also dabble in writing his own stories? It used to be that was his only option. Now he make his own sci-fi movie and throw it on the internet for all to see.
3.0: So it's not just the fact that the actual *making* of the film is now affordable, it's also that there's a way to distribute it so that people other than your family and friends can see it? Do you see that as a big incentive as well? Through Youtube and online streaming and Email attachments before that?
CHARLIE: It certainly doesn’t hurt. But I get the feeling die hard Star Wars fans would make fan movies even if only to show their friends just so they could have a chance to play with “real” light sabers once in their lives.
3.0: So how did you get in to this? Did you just wake up in the morning and say "I want to be a Jedi?" or was this something that had been brewing in your head for a long time?
CHARLIE: I am, of course, a sci-fi fan from decades back: grew up watching Star Trek (et. al.). Saw Star Wars in the theater five times in one day. I’m also a film addict—started making home movies when I was 14. I’ve always had a love for movie making. Did some projects in college and as a teacher. I was fortunate to get hooked up with an editing studio for summer work in the 90’s and started learning about video editing (which I then had to completely relearn in the 00’s with digital editing) and editing technique. I found some interesting ways to apply that knowledge to teaching my English and Humanities students which I stuck with. Eventually I was able to worm my way into being able to teach a film class at my college and find the funding I needed for basic video equipment.
3.0: So it was a combination of a love for the genre, access to the equipment, and also cleverly managing to integrate it in to your day job? Is