Smack dab in the middle of the Fan Movie Challenge Awards, Steve Sansweet invited a special guest to the stage: director Kyle Newman, who has weathered a tumultous journey in the creation of his movie, Fanboys. Newman was remarkably civil in discussing the trials and tribulations of the making of the movie, and before his portion on stage ended, he surprised the assembled audience by inviting Fanboys producer Kevin Spacey to the stage. Later that night, the first 300 attendees of the Fan Movie Challenge Awards attended an exclusive screening of Fanboys.
What follows is a transcript of the Fanboys portion of the Fan Movies presentation, hosted by Steve Sansweet, Head of Fan Relations.
Sansweet: We’re going to take a break and talk to a true fan who made a little feature length movie, saw the dark side control, and was finally able to bring a little redemption to the Dark Lord of the Sith. No, not Luke Skywalker but the director of Fanboys, Kyle Newman!
So, you’ve had a bit of a saga yourself these days. How did you come to Fanboys in the first place?
Newman: I first read about it ten years ago online. I was at NYU, a film student, and heard about a script that sounded amazing about Star Wars fans who go and break into Lucas Ranch. Years later, a friend of mine said, “You’re a big Star Wars fan. I have this other guy who’s got this script about Star Wars fans.” Turns out it was that script, and I got involved at that point. We just kept building our team. Ultimately we landed on Trigger Street Productions with Dana Brunetti and Kevin Spacey and Matthew Perniciaro and Evan Astrowsky had shepherded the script up to that the point. And we had Kevin Mann, our other producer’s here. So we had this whole team just adding momentum until we finally got the thing made.
Sansweet: This film has gone through a couple of changes as you may have heard. First of all, what’s the basic storyline of Fanboys?
Newman: It’s about five best friends who go on a roadtrip to break into Skywalker Ranch so their friend who is dying can see Episode I before it comes out. Star Wars is the bond that brought them all together. It’s the thing that they have to do for their dying friend before he goes… and it’s a comedy. [laughter].
Sansweet: I read this stuff in the media — hell, we lived it. You lived it – there was a bit of a rocky road getting to where your final cut is today. I’ve seen it, and it’s great, and it’s the film we saw a rough cut of… what, 17 years ago?
Newman: Yeah. Heh. Seventeen.
Sansweet: It’s come back to what it was and it’s a heck of a great movie. First, can you tell us what happened after you delivered the first version of the film? The one that you screened at Lucasfilm.
Newman: We got great response everywhere. We showed a couple scenes at Comic-Con last year. We showed some stuff at Star Wars Celebration. I got to show a version of the film at Celebration Europe, in London, last year. That was tremendous, it was the first time we got to show it to a group of fans. I was nervous. I was like, “Oh my god… I think I like it, but I wonder what people really think.” This is a true litmus test. And it went great. Everybody on our team was just trying to make the best, biggest movie they could, and I thought maybe they wanted to make it broader, so ideas got presented and explored, and … in the most political sense… everything worked out great. We’re here and the proper version is what’s coming out. The proper version is what’s going to screen tonight for the first time. It really couldn’t be done without the Star Wars fan community.
Sansweet: What role did the Star Wars fan community have? Word sort of got out that the whole cancer plot, which we thought added the whole heart of the movie, was excised from the movie. People started reacting to that without even having seen the movie. So what did the fan community do? What kind of role did they play in getting the film released as it is now?
Newman: People were very vocal. I think we did a great grassroots effort to get the movie out. Everyone who was making it were all fans. It was taking that once the studio was trying to impose things on it, that weren’t necessarily bad things –
Sansweet: It was a different point of view.
Newman: Yeah, it was a different point of view. Ultimately, where we’re at right now is where it is meant to be. I think it’s better than it’s ever been, and we’ve got great awareness, and I think fans took to the movie, took to the plot. People who had seen it said great things about it and spread the word. I think that caught on. It’s a very loyal, strong community. Thanks to probably a lot of people in here that we’re getting the right movie out here.
Sansweet: This seems like a pretty extraordinary case, especially it’s resolution. What lessons do you draw from it and is there any advice that you would give anybody out there that… clearly there are many people who want to go on and start making independent films and bigger films.
Newman: I’d say just stick to your guns, if you have a vision for something. We had a great group of people. Everyone on our team had the same philosophy. We had producers and writers, everyone wanted the same story. Even when we were in our darkest hour and it looked like it wasn’t going to happen, it happened. And I think that’s testament to the power of the Star Wars community. Stick with it. It will get done somehow.
If you really believe in it, and that’s what we see in a lot of films here. They’re great. There’s not a lot of money, but it’s passion that makes the movie. Anybody can say they want to make a movie, but you got to start doing it at some point and see it through.
Sansweet: Do you know when the movie is going to open?
Newman: September 19th. I’ve said it’s coming out a couple of times, but this is the real deal.
(After screening a four-minute series of clips from Fanboys, Kevin Spacey takes the stage to huge applause)
Spacey: Hi. I’m… (as Christopher Walken) “I’m the captain of the Millennium Falcon… Fast ship?” (laughter) I am enormously happy that Dana Brunetti and myself and all on our team were able to, in this instance, keep the dark side at bay and release the film that we wanted to have seen, but mostly, all of you wanted to see. There is no doubt that the effort that was made by the fans of both Fanboys and Star Wars on the net was successful. So thank you. We all believe in this film. We all had a great time, making it, getting it done. And we hope that in September — actually, we hope that you start telling your friends now, so that by the time September comes, we’ll have what they call “a really big f—ing good opening weekend.”
This is my first visit to Comic-Con. I, this afternoon, wandered through the convention center, and it was quite extraordinary and remarkable not just to see how many people are out, but how many people took the time putting together very cool costumes and such homage to the characters you love, and I’m incredibly happy the reason that I had to come here was this movie, Fanboys, and this thing we’re doing with Devil’s Due on TriggerStreet.com.