(Fanboys-director Kyle Newman presents Lee Vehe with the Best Comedy Award for The Eyes of Darth Tater. Photo by Jenny Elwick.)
Chicago-based filmmaker Lee Vehe, and winner for Best Comedy with his short film The Eyes of Darth Tater, in the Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge presented by Lucasfilm and AtomFilms, explains how a dream about a baked potato can lead to a lot of laughs.
What is the back story regarding your film? Where did you get your idea for your film?
The idea oddly enough originated in a dream, the singular shot of Darth Sidious beside a foil-wrapped baked potato. It was then just a matter of putting a beginning and end to that thought.
What prompted you to make a Star Wars fan film? How has George Lucas and his films influence your work?
I have been a finalist in this competition every year for the last four. Initially it was an excuse to learn a specific compositing program but I’ve also always thought of it as an unique opportunity to play in George Lucas’ sandbox.
What is your background in film? Did you make films as a youngster?
My father had a Super-8 camera and that’s probably where my initial interest came from. I also think the television special “The Making of Star Wars” created a lasting impact. Around 11, I finally got my hands on a camera. My first experiments were primarily stop-motion things and spaceships on wires. I was awarded a partial scholarship to art school but forfeited it because I really wanted to study film. Eventually, I earned a BFA in Fine Arts in Film/Video with a concentration in Directing.
What are some of the technical aspects of your film? What did you shoot and edit with?
Originally I just wanted to make a quick little movie that was completed in camera. My son and I assembled a tiny set in the basement on a card table and turned on a fog machine. We shot it all in an hour with a Panasonic DVX100A and then I finished the editing later that night using Final Cut Pro. But the idea evolved and I went back and expanded the story adding Mrs. Padmé Head, the tot twins, titles, music, sound effects, and some visual effects with Motion and After Effects.
Who were all the principle people in helping get the film made? Who would you like to thank?
I’d like to thank my kids for allowing me to play with their toys and my wife for understanding why I’m playing with toys.
Why do you think recognizing fan films is important?
While recognition is nice, I think the real importance is just allowing fan films to be made — being given that outlet to create because you were inspired to do so and without fear of any legal action.
If you could meet George Lucas, what would you say?
Take me as your Padawan learner! And if that doesn’t creep him out and send him running room the room, maybe just thanks for inspiring my dreams and imagination for 30 years.
Head over to starwars.atomfilms.com to watch all the winning films.
Check back soon for more profiles on the winning filmmakers.