The impressive fan film is set in the Star Wars universe during the time period between Episodes III and IV. An elite soldier has been sent to track down and destroy a known threat to the Empire through intense ground battles and haunting imagery of death that surround the environment. The unsuspecting enemy to the new Imperial order has no idea what he is up against when the two finally meet for an action packed surprise ending.
Starwars.com chats with Florida-based filmmaker Clutch about his award-winning film.
What is your background in film? Did you study it in college? Did you make films as a youngster/teen?
My only formal education that relates to film was attending Full Sail University that specialized in Digital Media, Film and Audio at the time. They’ve really expanded a great deal since then to include 3-D animation which I taught there for a number of years. I went through the digital media course which had classes covering a broad range of subjects like 3-D animation, composting, audio, cameras and 2-D graphics but no, I’ve never attended any kind of formal film school and Makazie One was my first film altogether. As a young boy I was inspired by Star Wars as many were and would make home movies with some of the toys while desperately trying not to burn down the garage in the process.
What prompted you to make a Star Wars fan film? How has George Lucas and his films influenced your work?
I’ve been a member of the 501st since 2001 as well as a former Marine so I always wanted to try to bridge the two worlds and make a Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers-type movie but with stormtroopers. I also wanted to twist our perspectives around and make a film from the Empire’s point of view where the Jedi were the bad guys. That’s just me though, I’ve always been partial to the villains. George Lucas created this great universe to explore and expand so as far as him influencing the project, it wouldn’t have been possible had he not created the environment to work with.
What are some of the technical aspects of your film? What did you shoot and edit with?
We shot everything in HD using JVC 110 cameras with a Redrock Micro film lens adapter. We then edited everything using Final Cut, all the special effects were created in After Effects and for 3-D we use Maya exclusively.
What were some of the challenges and surprised that happened to you as you were writing/directing/filming your movie?
This was my first time ever making a film let alone directing one so even though I was some what familiar with how the process worked it was still a new adventure with every turn. The biggest challenges were working with little to no money, we shot the entire film for less than $7,000 which included the purchase of the lens kit and two sets of stormtrooper armor. The next was finding locations. I found out real quick that it’s not so easy to search for and get permission to film without insurance or money to pay rent the places out. For our opening battle scene we needed something very specific and didn’t find the battlefield until we were two weeks away from the first day of shooting. Kinda nerve racking when you have 40+ people scheduled to show up for two days and you don’t know where they’re going to be until the last minute.
Why do you think recognizing fan films is important?
I think fan films offer a wonderful vehicle for showcasing new talent because it’s material that everyone is familiar with so number one, you already have a built in audience. And two, I think that since people have a frame of reference with all that’s been done before if you can show them something a little different they tend to notice that much more. Fan films are a great place in general for people like me to get a jump start in filmmaking.
Do you have aspirations to make films as a career? Or is this simply a labor of love?
Since Makazie One I haven’t stopped directing for very long at all. We just shot our fourth short film two weeks ago for a Ridley Scott competition and I personally would love to continue making films forever. If there’s money and a career in the future I couldn’t imagine a greater way to make a living and enjoy life.
If you could meet George Lucas, what would you say to him?
Thank you for creating the Star Wars universe and allowing people like me to play around in it from time to time.
Who were all the principle people in helping get the film made? Who would you thank if your film won an Academy Award?
There is a very long list but the core group from the beginning were:
Matt “Redeye” Paisley – Producer
Benjamin Lowell – Director of Photography
Marco DiGeorge – Editor and also played the Jedi
Ray Eddy – Played Makazie One as well as choreographed the whole lightsaber battle.
Dale Smith – Toughing it out in the heat while playing the stormtrooper commander role
Ray Combs – Co-Producer
Steven Sansweet – for giving us some great inspiration and comments during the making of the film.
Jay Laga’aia – for taking time out to discuss the film and doing the opening voice over for the project.
Additional comments about your fan film making experience?
I can’t express the amount of thanks and appreciation I’d like to give to all those who helped make the film and to the fans who have enjoyed watching it as much as we enjoyed making it. From day one I’ve been blown away by everyone’s dedication and efforts to make a simple idea into a reality. Hats off to all of you.
Be sure to visit the Makazie One site for more information.
Watch all the fan movie winners here:
Atom: Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge