Yesterday, our own fearless Loftus Party leader showed off a new Star Wars fan series, Bucketheads, created by the amazing minds of Marco Bossow and Andy Brown. This did a couple of things to raise my Jedi spirits. First, it reminded me of the endless pool of talent and creativity that exists beyond the bubble of mainstream entertainment. Second, it gave me another reason to believe the pure, non-commercial, shared appreciation for the Star Wars universe is still out there, sans the money machine of Disney and their personal politics.
The fan-made Star Wars tributes are nothing new, and as long as the internet has been around, there have been many great extended universe and alternate universe stories floating around in a galaxy far, far away. These films were so prevalent at one time there was even an official Star Wars Fan Film Awards that ran most years between 2002 and 2018. Alas, they are no more. These films ranged from parodies, mockumentaries, animated shorts, and even some selected by George Lucas himself.
Here are some of my favorite Star Wars fan films and tributes.
Kevin Rubio, who went to have a steady career in comics and television including creating the “Tag and Bink” comics for Dark Horse, directed this hugely popular Star Wars/COPS mashup that pretty much put the idea of Star Wars fan-films on the map. (It even won the first Pioneer Award five years later when the Star Wars Fan Film Awards were first created.)
This is one that is just as funny for those who remember the heyday of the guilty pleasure series COPS as it was for Star Wars fans, especially the deadpan “Chicago style copper” delivery of the head Stormtrooper. The revelation of what really happened to Owen and Beru Lars, and the Tom Servo cameo are also classic.
The Pink Five Saga (2002-2013)
The Valley Girl rebel pilot, Stacey (Amy Earhart), went under the code name “Pink Five” and completely chewed the scenery while she zipped around the sidelines of the main Star Wars trilogy storyline. This saga, created by Trey Stokes, included the original Pink Five: Episode One (the best one in my opinion), as well as sequels Pink Five Strikes Back, and three volumes of Return of Pink Five.
She had little training and experience, but a larger-than-life personality, more than we can say about many of newer characters in created today. This one was popular enough to give Stacey her own fan following. She was one of the few fan-film characters to become an official part of the extended universe after making an appearance in the novel Allegiance by Timothy Zahn (well before Rey came into the scene). She also made a cameo in another fan made property, Sith Apprentice, an Audience Choice winner at the Star Wars Fan Film Awards in 2005.
This entire saga can be seen on Amazon Prime video, and is all over YouTube. Way to go, girl!
Darth Maul: Apprentice (2016)
This particular German-made film has gained more than 29 million views, and was created on a nice-sized budget of about $25,000. It was directed, written and produced by a filmmaker named Shawn Bu for the production company T7pro. (The company has made several impressive fan pieces including one on the Cyberpunk 2077 character Johnny Silverhand.)
The Darth Maul piece they did is clean, sleek, dark, and gives this character who was too epic for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace a killer (literally) origin story of his own. “This is the beginning of the end of all Jedi.”
As Darth Vader would say, this one is “most impressive.”
George Lucas in Love (1999)
Finally, here’s a romantic comedy, fan favorite and another Star Wars Fan Film Pioneer Award winner from Joe Nussbaum. It is both a loving tribute to the creator of the franchise himself, and a funny and just a bit unsettling love story. This still holds up today and doesn’t let us forget despite all the new stories, revisions, reboots and rewrites, it all started with George’s own vision and story.
The actor who portrayed Lucas, Martin Hynes, is still doing pretty well for himself, and even wrote the story for Pixar’s Toy Story 4.
George Lucas in Love is a coming of age college story showing where Lucas got his inspiration to create Star Wars back in 1967, as well as a reference to a lesser successful film.
Even when there seems to be way too much overworked “official” Star Wars projects circulating around the Disneyverse, it is always a comfort to know there are still fans of the original and its creator out there using it as a creative way to bring their own stories, their own characters, and their own worlds to life through the medium of fan-films.
And, well, it is hard to have a bad feeling about that.