How I Learned to Stop the Hate, and Love STAR WARS Fan Films

For most of my life, I've been a purist when it comes to film remakes. Why take a classic or beloved film, and re-imagine it? THE FLY, THE TIME MACHINE, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL -- why ruin a great thing?

STAR WARS was a sacred cinematic experience from my childhood as I shared in this earlier blog post. How dare someone attempt to recreate or reimagine the epic? Oh, the sacrilegious injustice! I could only imagine the desecration of no to low-budget cinematography, editing, and special effects to the STAR WARS canon. 

Boy, was I proven wrong.


On May 12, 2005, a week before the theatrical release of STAR WARS: EPISODE III - REVENGE OF THE SITH, the Alamo Drafthouse hosted a special screening of STAR WARS: REVELATIONS which had been released the month prior and made available for free downloading. I went to that screening, and was impressed by the obvious talent and effort that graphic designer Shane Felux put into his 40-minute adventure film.

The story of REVELATIONS is set after the destruction of the Jedi Temple.  The Imperial control is spreading to other systems as Emperor Palpatine declares martial law on Coruscant, blaming it on the Confederacy of Independent Systems. All those left of the Jedi Order have been declared as traitors and are fugitives scattered. 

Taryn Anwar

Taryn Anwar

REVELATIONS centers on two formidable female characters -- Zhanna, who serves the Emperor, and and Taryn Anwar, a Seer who had been a comrade to Zhanna, as they tracked down Jedi -- unaware that Zhanna served the Dark Side.

Taryn must then reunite the last of the Jedi, seeking redemption for her role in the Empire's extermination of the last of the Order.

Felux reportedly spent $20,000 on the production of REVELATIONS, with most of that money spent on a digital camera and computer equipment. His wife Dawn Cowing wrote the screenplay, as well as cooked for the cast and crew.

REVELATIONS was so well-received that stated the film had "blown out our bandwidth," with over one million free downloads in the first month.

From the opening crawl of REVELATIONS, I knew that I was in for a special treat:

Seers once shaped the path of the
Jedi Order. But their visions grew unreliable
and the Jedi came to distrust those with
the ability. Seers hid their visions or
left the Order forever

In the wake of the Temple's destruction,
a power struggle has emerged between
Darth Vader, the dark Lord of the Sith, and
Zhanna, the Emperor's Hand. Each seeks
to eliminate the last of the Jedi and
gain The Emperor's favor.

Caught between them is one woman
who cannot deny the truth of her visions
as all race to possess an ancient
'Jedi secret…

What really won me over to REVELATIONS was having strong lead characters who were female, and not "damsels in distress" that needed to be saved by the male heroine. I can only assume that most of the credit goes to Cowing for her creative writing skills, and her co-writer Sarah Yaworsky. 

There are some inconsistencies with the STAR WARS timeline, but fan films aren't considered canonical. While the acting isn't exemplary, the passion and energy of the cast is commendable for a fan film. 

Watch STAR WARS: REVELATIONS in its entirety here:

Fueled by my enjoyment of REVELATIONS, I began embracing STAR WARS fan films wholeheartedly. That same month, I stumbled across the comedic short GROCERY STORE WARS. Taking place in the produce section and grocery aisles, the humor and puppetry is quite comical.  Obi-wan Cannoli, Tofu D2, Chewbroccoli, Darth Tater, and a cast of vegetable characters delighted me. Here's a snippet of dialogue that still makes me giggle: 

Darth Tater ~ "Cuke I am your father!" 
Cuke ~ "That's....that's really impossible!" 
Darth Tater ~ "Trust your peelings you know it be true...join my and together we can rule the supermarket as father & son!" 
Cuke ~ "I'll never join you!" 

Even this comedy has some political connotations though, related to the food industry. Join the Organic Rebellion, and watch GROCERY STORE WARS here:

I have embraced fan films so much that my favorite Other Worlds Austin activity is to spearhead our annual STAR WARS Day Free Celebration, and I think that I can speak for my fellow OWA teammates who put in a whole lot of effort, enthusiasm, creativity, and passion into our annual event that it's high on their list of things to do for May.

Come on out to 4th Tap Brewing Co-op for a night full of STAR WARS fan films. Note that our May the Fourth Annual Fan Film Screening is the ONLY local event featuring film programming, lovingly curated by members of our OWA team, with a costume contest and raffle full of meticulously curated prizes. This event is a way for all of us at Other Worlds Austin to say THANK YOU! not only to our OWA community, but to join forces with STAR WARS film fans in Central Texas. 

If you can't tell yet, OWA really loves STAR WARS - so much so that this May the 4th marks our third annual Star Wars Day Fan Film Screening! We take the best (and goofiest) Star Wars fan films out there and give them a night of big screen glory. This year's free event take place at 4th Tap, starting at 6pm. They even brewed some beer just for us (Light or Dark Side, take your pick...) so we'll see you there!