Fan Movie Winner Profile: Star Wars: Retold Team | August 4, 2009

As the winner for the George Lucas Selects Award in the Fan Movie Challenge presented by Lucasfilm and Atom at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con International, Star Wars: Retold shows what can happen when someone who thinks they remember all the little plot points of Star Wars attempted to retell it, with hilarious results. chats with Texas-based filmmaker Joe Nicolosi Jr.

What is your background in film?

I’ve been making films since the day my father brought home the first family camcorder. My first project was a stop-motion animation feature film done totally with LEGOs. Years later, I studied film at Ithaca College in New York where I continued exploring animation and live-action filmmaking as well as writing and theater.

What prompted you to make a Star Wars fan film?

I made this film because I was inspired by how passionately someone who had never seen Star Wars thought she could tell the story. Star Wars was my favorite film growing up and is a big reason I make films today.

Where did you get your idea for your film?

My friend Amanda hadn’t seen any of the Star Wars films, so I was trying to convince her to watch them with me. She was reluctant and stubborn at first because she’d seen so much of the story in pop culture references, like through Family Guy and Kevin Smith films. She started telling me the story as she knew it and I told her to hold on while I got my video camera.

What are some of the technical aspects of your film?

I recorded Amanda’s retelling using my Panasonic DVX100a and cut the audio track in Apple’s Final Cut Pro. I used Adobe Photoshop to cut out all the characters and background and for the photo manipulation I did. I took all the elements back into Final Cut where I did my very crude animations.

What were some of the challenges of making your own movie?

Finding a lot of the photos proved difficult. I had very specific ideas for things like Leia’s “Golden Suit” and a lot of the Ewok stuff that wasn’t readily available. It took a while to get all the pieces in place.

Who were all the principle people in helping get the film made?

The star of my film, the lovely Amanda. My best friend Zach, who watches all my rough cuts and tells me when I’m not funny. And of course my parents, who support me no matter what I decide to do.

Have you made a fan film before, if so how was this experience different?

In high school I made an Indiana Jones parody called California Smith. That film was live-action and also not particularly good, although very fun to make.

Do you have aspirations to make films as a career?

I have aspirations to always get better at the things I love to do: telling stories, making music, producing live-action films and animation. I would love to make it a career.

What do you love the most about Star Wars?

Whenever I watch A New Hope I’m overwhelmed and inspired by its barrage of creativity. The sound effects, the music, the characters, the visual effects, the aliens, the universe — all of it is so original and so deep. That film is magical to me, on a plane of existence totally by itself.

Why do you think recognizing fan films is important?

Fan films are the ultimate way for fans to pay homage and express their love for a film or TV series in a creative way. Also the quality of some fan films is top notch and deserves a lot of respect.

Additional comments about your fan movie making experience?

I’ve been grateful for the amount of support and attention that Star Wars: Retold has gotten this year. All the kind comments and emails that I get from people make it easier to stay up all night working on new films and animations. So, thank you all.

Read my previous interview with Joseph Nicolosi here.

Watch all the fan movie winners here:

Atom: Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge

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