Fan Movie Winner Profile: Family Dysfunction

StarWars.com Team | August 16, 2009

As the winner for the Best Comedy Award presented by Lucasfilm and Atom at this year’s Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge at San Diego Comic-Con International, Family Dysfunction shows the story of Darth Vader’s illegitimate son who idolizes him as a child, hates him as a teen and thinks he’s an old, washed-up Sith Lord as he enters his twenties.

Starwars.com chats with Arizona-based filmmaker Rich Scheirmann about his fan movie.

What is your background in film?

I made my first film at the age of eight or nine. It was an 8mm stop-animation short staring Star Wars action figures. Since then, my love of film and video has matured. In college, I received three degrees all in the cinema realm. Performance wise, I’ve done everything from stand-up comedy to stage performances and television hosting. Over the years, I’ve participated or created well over a hundred videos.

What prompted you to make a Star Wars fan film? Have you made a fan film before?

I remember being a kid and watching a documentary on Star Wars. The one thing that has stuck with me over all the years was Mr. Lucas’ tenacity. Over the last few decades, his aversion to complacency has brought about the largest technical advancements in film. Where would we be without THX, ILM and Lucasfilm’s digital evolution? I know I’d still be making 8mm stop animation flicks.

Where did you get your idea for your film?

The Skywalker family is the poster child for dysfunction. My original idea was a mock reality show that would explore the inadequacies of the Vader clan. I wanted it to be The Osbournes in space — only with lightsabers. This was a test run.

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

I shot it with a Cannon GL2, lamp with no shade and small fill light. This was my first 3-D project, so I used a green screen (a.k.a. green bed sheet), Cinema 4D and just about every Adobe product known to man.

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

The biggest issue with my video — I was a crew of one. I set-up the green screen, adjusted the lights, put the camera on a tripod, the microphone between my knees and hit record. While I had a concept, the dialogue was ad-libbed. Afterwards, I wished I had gotten more coverage. A few more angles and a little more action would have made the video better.

To all the young filmmakers out there — when you create your first fan film, do not use fireworks to blow-up a snow speeder in the house. No matter how incredible it looks on film, you’re guaranteed to have your shooting license revoked, a sever punishment/lecture and your parents will not buy you a new snow speeder…ever!

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

I’d thank my parents for making me the man I am. I’d thank my wife and daughters, because they never let me forget who that man is.

Why do you think recognizing fan films is important?

I love working within a narrative that’s so well known. Let’s face it; my video is basically a three-minute inside joke. Fan films pay homage to the original work. What better way is there to say, “Thank you.”

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

“Thank you for not suing us. Better yet, thank you for letting us play in the universe you created and then handing out awards for it. You’re too generous.”


Watch all the fan movie winners here:

Atom: Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge


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