If you ever walk into my studio you will notice three things: triple monitors, movie posters, and lots of film gear. Working mostly as a cinematographer, my expertise also includes writing, producing, directing, editing, and special effects. It keeps my current days here in the Hoosier State of Indiana pretty busy. In my free time I also created the Indiana FILM IT Project on Facebook. I have a passion for creating. To be able to make an impact with something I created and to entertain people by making them laugh, smile, or think is extremely rewarding. That’s just a great feeling, and that’s why I love my work.
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“I’m dead!” read the button pinned on me when I entered a hotel suite at the Hilton Arlington in Northern Virginia on a sunny Saturday morning in March 1998. According to the “Rebel Pilot Reunion” article in Star Wars Insider (Issue number 32, Winter 1996), I’d been missing since the Battle of Hoth, presumed to have been killed in action. Not so. Such rumors were greatly exaggerated. But they can lead to serendipitous resurrections.
Sometime after my resurrection, I’d been a guest at Ben Stevens’ DFW Toy Show in Plano, Texas. Managing the autograph line was Denise Clarkston, an exercise physiologist who is now with Ben’s Official Pix, the folks who book the “talent” for Celebrations. Denise invited me to be her guest at a Washington convention of the Star Ladies, one of three fan organizations that are now Club Jade. In 1998, their third annual con was in DC during the run of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s “The Magic of Myth” Exhibition.
Beyond blood ties, families are built around traditions. In my family, it’s tradition to embark on grand adventures together once a year. From driving into the midst of migrating herds in the Serengeti to wandering in the ancient ruins of Ephesus and Pompeii, we’ve created a treasure trove of memories shared through the generations. So last year when my father, our unofficial travel agent, suggested a trip to South America in the spring, I was very excited. I also told him, “Whatever you do, don’t interfere with Star Wars Weekends.” He honored my request, booking a tour that would return us to the US in early May.
In mid-March, Entertainment Weekly announced that Return of the Jedi would be screening at the CapeTown Film Festival. As an intrepid Star Wars blogger, my eyes lit up. This could be really exciting to attend, and on May the 4th no less… That’s when the realization struck: I was going to be in South America on that day, on a tiny touring boat in the middle of the Galapagos Islands. The prospects of Star Wars fun and mayhem, sharing in potentially exciting news breaking, came to a screeching halt.
I never thought I would give direction to Darth Vader. Granted it was for a Pringles commercial contest, but it was still a surreal experience seeing Darth Vader walk onto set for the first time. The entire cast and crew went silent for a moment. Years of childhood memories rushed to our minds. I think Darth Vader broke the spell when he asked, “So what’s my cue?” in a very non-Darth Vader sounding voice.
Through a crowdsourcing site called Tongal, I submitted and won a pitch to produce a video for Pringles and Star Wars, with the potential of it becoming a national TV commercial. My script was based on another crowdsourced idea called “Imitating Vader.” I thought the idea was great in its simplicity, but I was skeptical the Pringles can would really work as a voice changer. So I bought some Pringles and tried it out. To my surprise, it actually worked quite well. Pringles really should start printing “Free Darth Vader Voice Changer” on every can.
I’m sure there are holidays on every planet. Heck, even the Wookiees have Life Day. And wherever there are mothers, I’m positive there’s a Mother’s Day. From Coruscant to Tatooine, moms are being woken for a special day when their kids make them homemade cards and serve them blue milk and bantha breakfast steaks in bed. In our world Mother’s Day is just a few days away. Let this be your reminder.
Plenty of lucky kids out there have moms who love Star Wars. I caught up with a few of these ladies to discuss how they’ve shared their passion for the saga with their children.
In February, We Love Fine, purveyors of some of the Internet’s most inventive and creative fan-made tees, asked designers to call on the power of the dark side for their Dark Side Design Contest. The theme of the contest: submit T-shirt designs featuring only Sith, bounty hunters, and other scum and villainy of the Star Wars universe. Fans embraced the challenge, and now the winners — selected by a panel of guest celebrity judges — can be revealed!
The pages of the calendar have flown past this year like starfighters going to lightspeed, and May the 4th is almost again upon us. It’s a little like Valentine’s Day. You might love someone all year long, just like you celebrate Star Wars all year long, but this is a special day devoted to your passion.
There is no right or wrong way to mark the occasion — you can have a movie marathon, make a R2-D2 cake, or wear a Han Solo T-shirt. Just do something! It’s easier than ever this year since May the 4th falls on a Saturday.
What are we to make of this? A pun initially used to celebrate the election of the first female prime minister of the United Kingdom becomes a meme long before the Internet is born and then morphs into the first worldwide holiday for a movie!
If you think I’m exaggerating, do your own Google search on “May the 4th be with you” and in a quarter of a second you’ll get nearly one billion hits. That’s billion! OK, slight exaggeration: it’s merely 909,000,000.
We fans know that Star Wars isn’t just any movie but one that truly justifies that overused word, phenomenon. And if Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party wanted to hype her victory on May 4, 1979, with a newspaper ad that blared “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations!” who could blame it for trying to tie the party to the then-most popular movie in the British Isles?