Starwars.com chats with California-based filmmaker John Kolesar 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?
No film background. I made this Star Wars film back in the ’70s with the help of my younger brother Jim and friend Anthony. I also made a few other stop-frame animated films using clay animation, modified plastic models and other fun stuff.
What prompted you to make a Star Wars fan film? How has George Lucas and his films influenced your work?
We were creative kids, and my parents let us use their video camera. Once the Star Wars figures and ships started appearing in stores, I guess we thought it would be fun to make a film using those things. I read all the sci-fi magazines back then, and found the “making of” and special effects articles fascinating.
What is the backstory regarding your film? Where did you get your idea for your film?
We had quite a collection of figures. Our film is loosely based on a few scenes from Star Wars. We added some characters, modified some scenes, added new ones, etc.
What are some of the technical aspects of your film? What did you shoot and edit with?
We used a Super-8 silent film camera; nothing fancy and had it transferred to VHS years ago. Recently, I digitized it into my home computer, where I used Adobe Premiere Pro to add music and clean up a few of the darker scenes.
What were some of the challenges and surprised that happened to you as you were writing/directing/filming your movie?
One of the incredible things we did had to do with the Death Star trench scene. We put white paper on a large number of cardboard boxes, and colored black lines all over them, then arranged them to look like the trench. It actually had a matte poster at the end to look like it went off into the distance.
We used a skateboard as a dolly to get the “feel” like you were flying down in the trench. Pretty elaborate if I do say so myself! Other challenges were things like parts of walls not falling over as they should, not realizing the camera didn’t do “macro” for close-ups, etc.
Who were all the principle people in helping get the film made? Who would you thank if your film won an Academy Award?
My brother Jim and my friend Anthony Heine. Also my parents for letting us take over most of the basement during filming!
Why do you think recognizing fan films is important?
I think it contributes to keeping the Star Wars universe alive.
Do you have aspirations to make films as a career? Or is this simply a labor of love?
I wouldn’t mind doing that for a living. I love creating things for people to enjoy.
If you could meet George Lucas, what would you say?
“Thank you for sharing your Star Wars universe with us to enjoy and cherish all these years!”
Watch all the fan movie winners here:
Atom: Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge