As the winners for the Best Fan Fiction: Drama & Audience Choice Award with their film Forced Alliance for the Fan Movie Challenge presented by Lucasfilm and AtomFilms, filmmakers Randy Bookman and Gerry Santos discuss what obstacles and surprises they had making a film that showcases an impressive lightsaber battle as the Jedi and Sith clash in a far away cantina.
What prompted you to make a Star Wars fan film? How has George Lucas and his films influence your work?
Randy Bookman: The intent of Forced Alliance is to get it to the creators of the new Star Wars television series and use it as our calling card. We want to be a part of the creative force (no pun intended) making the show.
What is the backstory regarding your film? Where did you get your idea?
Randy Bookman: Throughout all six Star Wars films, the balance between good and evil has been a major theme. Yet a true balance is never fully realized. Can there be a middle ground? Or is there only good and evil? The real world reflects otherwise. Like the original Star Wars film, our story has undertones of the current social-political issues that the world deals with today. It’s a little darker and at the same time there is hope for what could be.
What is your background in film? Did you both make films as youngsters?
Randy Bookman: I’ve always been story teller even as a child I was making films with my dad’s video camera. I attended the University of Miami where I studied film and psychology. Currently, I work freelance as an Assistant Director and I continue to write and build my director’s reel.
Gerry Santos: In 7th grade I was asked to make a stop-motion animation project for extra credit. I started and never stopped. I borrowed my neighbor’s dad’s video camera and was shooting whenever I could. I spent most of my days writing up stories in which my friends were the characters and passing them out among them for fun. I ended up at the University of Miami where I studied Film Production and Creative Writing. I do freelance work now, trying desperately to get above that elusive line.
What are some of the technical aspects of your film? What did you shoot and edit with?
Gerry Santos: Forced Alliance was shot on the HD Sony F900 with a Cinealta package and a full Zeiss lens package. In our attempt to recreate the Star Wars experience, we felt it was important to not only shoot on the same format George Lucas himself uses, but to try and deliver the best possible picture. We edited on Final Cut Pro and our sound design was done on Nuendo.
What were some of the challenges and surprised that happened to you as you were creating your movie?
Randy Bookman: The blessing and curse that is the Star Wars name. While making this film we got a lot of unexpected help when we mentioned that our story took place in Star Wars Universe. Star Wars has impacted our culture to such an existent that people will jump at the opportunity to be a part of the Star Wars Legacy even if it is not officially affiliated with George Lucas or Lucasfilm. The flip side is we also hit a lot of road blocks. Fans are very protective of Star Wars and when you ask people for help they tend to scoff at the idea.
Gerry Santos: Challenges and surprises — from the very beginning, there were plenty of both. While Randy and I have worked on many sets and many different shows over the years, nothing could have truly prepared us for taking command of a production like this. They don’t teach these things in school; they don’t really talk about it on sets. It’s the underbelly of the beast. The late nights spent worrying about schedules, construction, coordinating actors and budget problems. Driving everywhere for meetings and deliveries, making a good deal better and (most importantly) convincing people to believe in project.
Who were all the principle people in helping get the film made? Who would you like to thank?
We would say that each and every person you see in our credits gave their all to make this possible. Specific people who went beyond the call of duty and should be recognized are:
– Composer, Kyle Newmaster
We met him by pure luck on the internet and he brought a true cinematic score to our short film. Kyle’s love for Star Wars is only surpassed by his passion and talent at creating emotionally charged music that brings our film to life.
– Director of Photography, David Waldman
Our original D.P. had to leave the project before it even started and David came in as a favor. Though we didn’t know it at the time, it was the best thing that happened to our film. Not only did we get one of the best up and coming Directors of Photography, we got a true friend and mentor.
– Visual FX, Candida Nunez
Candida was kind enough to answer the email of two complete strangers who couldn’t pay her anything. She pushed us to do more with visual FX than we intended or expected. Never satisfied with her work, she worked harder than anyone else to ensure that our film came as close to perfect as possible.
– Sound Designer, Kevin Brauss
We had tons of people say they wanted to do the sound design and they either had to back out or just flaked. Kevin stepped up and not only did the job he poured his soul into making a sound mix that any movie would be lucky to have.
– Executive Producer, Gerardo Santos
The silent partner and our biggest fan. He bankrolled our little project based on our script and pre-production images and in the process became the best Executive Producer and supporter that we could have ever hoped for. His faith in our project has kept us moving forward despite the set-backs that we encountered along the way.
– Kevin Weir of the 501st
Kevin literally bled for us, a real “Trooper” in every sense of the word. He believed in our film and brought the best the 501st has to offer with him.
– David Sanger and New Deal Studios
For helping out some poor guys who wanted to make a Star Wars film.
– Prop Master, Tim “The Man” Hanson
His title says prop master, but that title doesn’t do him justice. Tim is responsible for the lightsaber lifts in our film. It is the one shot that everyone always asks how we did. SSSSHHHHHH!!! Tim it’s our secret.
– Matt Devitt
A true friend and Star Wars fan. He got us a lot of equipment and even conned his lovely wife to work on our film.
Why do you think recognizing fan films is important?
Randy Bookman: We love making movies and we’re hoping that with this film and other projects we’ve done Forced Alliance will allow us to make the move from working for the industry to having the industry working for us. Filmmaking is our destiny!
If you could meet George Lucas, what would you say?
Randy Bookman: I would thank him for making the films that influenced my childhood (Indiana Jones, Star Wars). I would like to ask him what piece of advice he could give me as a director. I would ask what his greatest failure as a filmmaker was and what he learned from it. Finally, if he was willing I’d ask him to sign my Star Wars poster because I’m a nerd.
Gerry Santos: I would like to say that as both a fan and a filmmaker, I’d like to thank him for his work. I’d like to know what his greatest sacrifice has been and whether or not he’d do it again if he had the chance.
Head over to starwars.atomfilms.com to watch all the winning films.
Check back soon for more profiles on the winning filmmakers.