Event Coverage

Star Wars Fan Film Challenge 2015

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            Since Star Wars first appeared on screen in 1976, people have used their imaginations to act out “what if” scenarios.  I acted out scenes with my Star Wars toys and then expanded on them.  I didn’t own a video camera at the time, or I might have recorded my invented stories, but many fans did and still do.  Some even share them with us on the internet. 

            From the years 2002 through 2011, Star Wars fan films began getting recognition through a very special contest sponsored by Lucasfilm and AtomFilms.  Participants submitted their entries, the submissions were whittled down and the winners were selected, awards usually to be presented at Comic-Con or Star Wars Celebration conventions.  But in 2012, Lucasfilm announced that the Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge would be discontinued. 

            We went for three whole years without Star Wars Fan Film Awards.  That didn’t mean fans wouldn’t stop making films.  It just meant that they had to rely on word of mouth and internet hits to make their fan films popular.  Then, in 2014, some exciting news from Lucasfilm hit the web - the Fan Film Awards would be returning and the best of the short films would be aired at Star Wars Celebration 2015, taking place in Anaheim, California.

            The rules were basically the same.  The guidelines require fan film makers to submit a short-form fan-made movie, preferably under 5 minutes in length, but many submissions are quite a bit longer.  The movie can be a parody of the universe (including the movies, books and comic books), a fan experience documentary or a fan fiction movie, expanding upon the Star Wars universe.  The submission could include Star Wars material such as music and special effects sound clips, but only those provided in a special service pack by the sponsor of the contest, Disney Online. 

            Of course, there are a few things prohibited in this contest.  For one thing, unauthorized use of copyrighted material is not allowed and, of course, the submissions must also be fairly clean - no nudity, excessive swearing, explicit themes or graphic violence.

            Contests from previous years had quite a few categories, but this time around, there weren’t as many - seven, to be exact.  I applaud the powers that be for that decision as too many categories could get tedious.  Announced at the Star Wars Celebration, April 2015 were the following winners:

Filmmaker Select: The Lesser Evil - Jedi Corran and his Padawan Aleco are accompanied by a bounty hunter named Kyler on a mission to take out a dangerous Sith Master.  The Padawan has concerns as to why her Master would bring a bounty hunter on a Jedi Council mission without their knowledge, but soon learns her Master has his reasons.  Amazingly, when Darth Zeanis finally appears, Aleco learns just how skilled this particular bounty hunter really is.

Audience Choice and also Best Non-Fiction: Journey of a Fan Film - A behind the scenes look at what goes into the making of a fan film, in this case Legends: Legacy of the Force.

Best Comedy: Bounty Buddies - Jabba the Hutt hires Boba Fett to give Greedo a few pointers on how to be a successful bounty hunter.  Boba’s a loner and not really much of a teacher, but he has a fairly good idea as to how to approach the Greedo situation.

Best Animation: Star Wars: A New Employee Orientation - A look at the job training/orientation conducted by Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader of a group of stormtroopers to the new, seemingly unfinished but fully operational, Death Star

Spirit of Fan Film Award: Force-Full Imagination - A young girl deals with her conniving brother and his aspirations to annoy her through the use of her own Star Wars action figures.

Best Visual Effects: Knights of the Old Republic: Broken Souls - Darth Revan assigns Sith Meetra Surik to hunt down another Sith threatening to destroy the balance in the Force.  But once Meetra flushes this powerful instrument of destruction out, can Darth Revan hope to destroy him without being destroyed himself?

            So what do I think about the selection?  I mean, that’s what this article is about right, letting you know my opinion.  Well, fellow Star Wars fans out there, I’m half happy, half annoyed.  As storylines go, I loved Knights of the Old Republic: Broken Souls and would enjoy seeing a longer version of this film in the future.  But to give it a Best Visual Effects Award…not so much.  I though The Lesser Evil, my favorite of the various winners, had much better visual effects.  Most of the effect in Broken Souls were hidden by the sun and brightly colored sand. 

            I agreed with the Audience Choice and Best Non-Fiction Awards going to Journey of a Fan Film.  The documentary was so interesting, I can’t wait to see the actual fan film.  What a perfect selection for Darth Caedus and Jaina Solo!  I can also agree with the Best Animation Award.  Okay, so the characters are caricatures of the real Star Wars villains, the animation was very well done.  But, I have to say, this film should have also won for Best Comedy - Bounty Buddies, though very creatively done using Star Wars action figures, was just not that humorous.  As for the Spirit of Fan Film Award, I guess I can agree with the selection based on the idea of the award.  But the film itself really wasn’t all that good.

            So, to sum things up, I really loved the storyline of Knights of the Old Republic: Broken Souls, but think it was given the wrong award.  The Lesser Evil was the best of the films, worthy of being awarded Filmmaker Select, but also worthy of the Best Visual Effects Award.  Based on the Journey of a Fan Film, I can’t wait to see Legends: Legacy of the Force, but wished I hadn’t bothered with Force-Full Imagination.  I also wish I could have skipped Bounty Buddies as I feel that the winner of the Best Animation Award, Star Wars: A New Employee Orientation, should have also won for Best Comedy.

            There you have it!  My opinion of this year’s Star Wars Fan Film Challenge winners.  Until the next Star Wars Fan Film Challenge, MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!

For more about Star Wars fan films, check out these articles:

Star Wars Fan Films: Imagination Run Wild

Star Wars Fan Film Awards 2006

Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge 2008

Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge 2009

Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge 2010

Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge 2011


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