How STAR WARS can get back to it’s indie roots, or a boy can dream, can’t he?
Quick poll: Who else wants to see an indie Star Wars film?
Do you hear that? It’s the sound of all the air being sucked out of the room, more specifically, it’s the sound a Star Wars film makes when released. Since May of 1977, Star Wars has held a rare place in cinema; each time a film is released, it assumes total market dominance. The addition of solid leadership by superstar producer, Kathleen Kennedy, and the backing of Disney’s marketing machine means there is no end in sight for the franchise. This gives them great power, but as Luke’s new bunkmate Spiderman will tell you;
‘With great power comes great responsibility.’
There are sequels and prequels and ‘stand alone’ plans, Han Solo origin story anyone? Certainly, we will have Star Wars films for years to come. That’s the good news.
The bad news?
Well, they’re all going to be giant tent pole films. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good CGI extravaganza as much as the next guy but isn’t it possible the fans could burn out on event after event? It seems to be working fine for Marvel (also acquired by Disney) and for Transformers, though the latter has a multi-year break between pictures.
Now, I could be totally wrong about this, but in celebration of Star Wars creator George Lucas, an indie filmmaker more interested in documentaries and tone poems (early music videos without the band, or the group, or sometimes the music) I’ve compiled a list of nine indie Star Wars films. They’re cheap to make and easy to sell. Why open one Star Wars film every year when you can open two?
Sound designer Ben Burtt is synonymous with Wookie howls, laser blasts, ship engines, R2D2 beeps and blurts but few know the full story. Left to his own devices for months at a time, Ben was alone, recording a series of sounds, which layered, would become the sounds of Star Wars. This indie film would be largely silent, a throwback to 1970’s art films, featuring Ben following a mysterious woman who might hold the secret to the universe. Think Terrence Malick, hire writer/director Jeremy Saulnier.
The classic story of the Imperial General’s teenage daughter who fatefully meets the recently captured rebel traitor’s son set against the backdrop of the maiden voyage of the greatest space station ever built. Ok, it’s Titanic on the Death Star, but if James Ponsoldt gets ahold of this thing, it’s pure magic.
Plan of Attack
This ode to classic stage performances such as 12 Angry Men and Glengarry Glen Ross is set entirely in the analysis room of The Death Star. The famous line “We’ve analyzed their attack, sir, there is a danger,” isn’t an easy decision to make. These twelve analysts responsible for studying the rebel attack plan, analyzing data and drawing a conclusion on board a ship that promotes failure with death. Beau Willimon makes his writer/director debut with an all-star cast of British thesps in this contained-space, roller-coaster ride.
A Capra-esque, faith-based-film about one man questioning his place in the universe. Struggling with the moral and ethical responsibility of the task he’s been assigned, he confronts his boss in an existential crisis, questions his faith and his ability to follow through. Largely an analogy for war, through dialogue and characterization, the audience realizes ‘the man’ is an angel whose been assigned by God, ‘the mission’ of ending George Lucas’ car racing career, thus sending him on the path to change the world. Scott Derrickson should write and direct, look at CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters and the collective works of GK Chesterton for inspiration.
During a dinner party, when a squad of Imperial Stormtroopers arrive at Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s moisture farm door, they have no choice but to invite the wolf in. The Imperial Colonel (Hans Landa anyone?) explains the necessity of retrieving stolen droids and when he returns with a garrison, they have no choice but to fight the home invasion. Some argue compliance is their only option while others demand resistance. Bryan Edward Hill to write, Brad Anderson to direct. Look at Incident and Vichy and Anne Frank for inspiration.
Stealing the plans for the Empire’s new “Death Weapon” is only half the mission, now the Bothan’s have to smuggle the plans out. A fast-paced spy thriller with dire consequences, harboring the Bothan spy puts a target on your back. Sacrifice, loyalty, duty and honor, the fate of the universe hangs in the balance. John Madden should re-team with Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn and Peter Straughan. They already know what to look at for inspiration.
George, Steven & Francis
Set over a five year period in the 1970’s, this film brings the amazing, true, STAR WARS creation story to life. Told through the friendship of Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, few undertand the extreme challenges facing the making of Star Wars. Full disclosure, yours truly wrote the screenplay, currently receiving fan feedback. JW Rinzler’s work was the inspiration.
When two best friends decide to spend their last weekend together (before reporting to the academy) building a mail order droid kit, the last thing they expect is for it to come to life as a bloodthirsty killing machine. Man’s hubris as Star Wars based Frankenstein story. Jeremy Gardner to write and direct.
We’ll Always Have Paris
When a nightclub owner on the edge of the galaxy discovers his old girlfriend is in town with her rebel spy husband, and the Empire on their tail, he may be their last hope for escape. Neo-noir, classic hard-boiled crime fiction, look to Raymond Chandler for inspiration. Nicholas Jarecki to write and direct.
Untitled Edgar Wright Star Wars Film
I honestly have no idea what this is. That combination of words gives me chills. Does it matter?
It. Will. Be. Awesome.
George Lucas started his career making small, intimate films. His version of ‘small and intimate’ just so happened to change the universe but there’s no reason we can’t get back there with his creations. Next time we’ll talk about the Indiana Jones re-boot and the Apocalypse Now/American Graffiti crossover project.
Christopher Pratt is a filmmaker and author living in Hollywood, CA. If you‘re ambitious, you could check out Remember the Future: How Steve Jobs Used Time Travel to Think Different (Chaite Press). If you would like to read the screenplay for George, Steven and Francis, please contact the author @FuturePratt