Fan Movie Winner Profile: Saber Team | July 30, 2009

As the winner for the Best Action and Audience Choice awards for the Fan Movie Challenge presented by Lucasfilm and Atom, Saber depicts a Cantina dream come true for many fanboys and fangirls alike. chats with Los Angeles-based filmmakers and stars of Saber — Clare Grant and Rileah Vanderbilt.

What is your background in film?

Clare: I actually studied theater in college at the University of Memphis, where I met a local director, Craig Brewer who encouraged me to gravitate more towards film by casting me in small roles in his local Memphis indy films.

Rileah: I never studied film in college, but I was very active in plays and sketches when I was younger. I’ve always wanted to be an actor as far back as I can remember!

What prompted you to make a Star Wars fan film? How has George Lucas and his films influenced your work?

Clare: Rileah and I met waiting tables at the Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. We were stunned when we realized we shared a deep love for Star Wars and many other geeky things. We would serve drinks and pasta to folks all night and daydream together about how awesome it would be to actually fight with lightsabers on film. Ya know, just for us, so we could watch it whenever we wanted to make ourselves happy.

George Lucas made the most influential movies for me and Rileah. I’m pretty sure she, like I, walk around narrating our daily lives with Star Wars and Indy theme music.

Rileah: Yes, this is true! Clare and I have always been very much into sci-fi and fantasy. When we first sat down and decided to do an online project together, Los Angeles was in the middle of a writers’ strike, there weren’t any movies or TV shows getting made. Clare and I were very frustrated and fed up with waiting around for people to give us opportunities.

So we decided to produce and act in our own project. Saber was a way for us to not only be in charge of our own destiny, but hopefully also a calling card to lead to other opportunities. When deciding what really spoke to us, Star Wars was a logical choice since we both have such a love for that universe.

Thanks to George Lucas, I’ve been a Star Wars fan ever since the first time I watched the movie back when I was a kid! Movies like Star Wars and Indiana Jones are what really prompted me to want to become an actress. I’ve always wanted to do movies that had the same action, adventure and fantasy that Star Wars had. On a more nerdy level, I named my cat Chewbacca (aka Chewie) after everyone’s favorite Wookiee, and I have a pretty nice replica Princess Leia slave costume.

(Photo by Bonnie Burton. Clare and Rileah accept their first trophy for Saber)

What is the back story regarding your film? Where did you get your idea for your film?

Clare: The idea came purely out of love and adoration for the Star Wars movies and our mutual desire to be awesome Jedi Masters or Sith Lords with bad-ass lightsaber skills. We both have found over time that there aren’t many girls like us who genuinely love and appreciate Star Wars like we do, and believe that as a result, there haven’t been any awesome spoofs with sincere and hot fan girls as leads.

Rileah: I think in order for anything to be successful it’s really got to come from your heart and soul. When we sat down to come to come up with something that showcased both of us. We wanted to do something that felt genuine and real to us. We said, “Okay, now what sets us apart?” Lightsabers + hot girls = Epic Win!

What are some of the technical aspects of your film? What did you shoot and edit with?

Clare: Since Rileah and I are two girls who have never made a movie ourselves or ever even held a video camera, the technical aspects are where we really relied on the help of our friends.

Rileah: After coming up with the concept to do a mock commercial, we had a meeting to figure out exactly how we wanted it to look. We spent hours looking up old Super Bowl commercials on Youtube until we found the right look and feel for Saber.

We used a Panasonic HVX200 camera to shoot it, and we edited it using Final Cut Pro. All the visual effects were done in Adobe After Effects. We spent most our budget on a lighting package to make Saber look as glossy as it does, but all in all I don’t think we spent more than $1,000 on this project. This was all due to the time and equipment our amazingly talented friends donated! Thank you guys, you rock!

(Photo by Bonnie Burton. Clare, Rileah and the rest of the Saber crew )

Who were all the principle people in helping get the film made? Who would you thank if your film won an Academy Award?

Clare: Most importantly, we would like to thank Adam Green. Neither of us had written a real script before, or had any idea what we would need technically like cameras and lights. When we went to Adam for advice, he was awesome about turning our idea into an actual script and helping us to frame up what exactly we needed to make our little film. Will Barratt for lending us his camera and amazing eye. Jason Miller for lending us his after effects skills with the lightsabers. Rick McCallum for diligently teaching us to fight with lightsabers. The Magliari family who own the Rainbow & the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Hollywood who kindly permitted us the use of their bar at no cost but love to us to shoot our film. And anyone who lent their time, skills and energy in any way.

What were some of the challenges and surprised that happened to you as you were writing/directing/filming your movie?

Clare: Since the two of us were basically just asking everyone we knew for a bunch of favors to make our dream come true, we found that our biggest problem was getting people to fulfill technical commitments that we simply could not do ourselves; and then finding other people who could fill that job for us.

Have you made a fan film before?

Clare: Saber is our first fan film!

Why do you think recognizing fan films is important?

Clare: Recognizing fan films is important because it’s giving fans a chance to pay homage to these fantastic movies that changed our lives in some way or another. It’s also a chance to feel like your are part of that legacy. We just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you!

Do you have aspirations to make films as a career? Or is this simply a labor of love?

Clare: We both have aspirations of quitting our “day jobs” and having careers as actors. I know neither of us have had any thoughts of actually making movies before Saber, but we had so much fun doing this. We have been tossing around some other ideas.

What do you love the most about Star Wars and why?

Clare: I love the safe and warm feeling that Star Wars gives me. It’s comforting and has been to me like the most steady of boyfriends throughout my entire life.

Rileah: What I love about Star Wars is that it’s appealing to practically everyone, and it stands the test of time. You never grow out of watching those movies! It’s one of those things you get excited about sharing with your future children.

If you could meet George Lucas, what would you say?

Clare: I actually met George last fall with the Robot Chicken folks and I can honestly say I was too stunned and overwhelmed to say anything. I think a hug would make me the most happy.

Rileah: I’m sure you can imagine how jealous I was when I heard about that! I’m with Clare on this one though. I really don’t know exactly what I would say since the fangirl in me would be too overwhelmed to form words. I would, however, love to hear what he thought about our fan film though!

Additional comments about your fan film making experience?

Clare: We had an amazing time shooting this! Hopefully this will inspire others out there to go out and create their own fan film!

Watch all the fan movie winners here:
Atom: Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge

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