The Force is Strong with This One

May 25, 1977, saw the US release of the very first Star Wars production, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Written and directed by George Lucas and starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, to name just a few, this was the first film in the original Star Wars trilogy and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon.

More than 40 years on and the iconic Star Wars series has spawned an extensive media franchise. The latest in the series, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, was released in late 2017, with theaters selling out across the world. And some (Utah-based) fans took the excitement to the next level by creating their very own Star Wars fan films.

The Distant Echo: A Star Wars Fan Film, which can be viewed on YouTube, follows the journey of the traditional characters, paying homage to the storylines and genre. “Its purpose is a nod to all Star Wars fans, and their passion”, says its writer and director, Tye Nelson, who also stars as Jacen Solo.

With almost 60,000 views to date (and likely even more by now), the feedback on the YouTube page has been overwhelmingly positive. Nelson tells us: “There been a lot of love represented in the comments and the overall feeling has been one of solidarity, with some die-hard fans becoming more open to the later stories, and new fans asking questions and showing interest. Reading these comments and getting the ‘thumbs up’, that’s how we know we’ve engaged the audience that we intended these fan films for.”

The production filmed in Murray/Holladay, as well as Provo and, aside from the composer and poster artist, the entire cast and crew were made up of Utah talent.

“Making a high-quality fan film requires more than just a story”, Nelson continues. “It requires dedication. In the end, there’s no monetary payout. The reward is the end product. As fan filmmakers, we get to play in the backyard of a house that someone else built. The fun is that we are fans of the story that we are playing in. And it’s not hard to find those fans here in Utah. You mention Star Wars and heads turn.”

The Distant Echo is Windstorm Entertainment’s second foray into making a narrative Star Wars fan film, with the short, Star Wars Legends: Legacy of the Force, having been released in 2015. Nelson explains: “The Distant Echo bridges the old and new storylines together. As lifelong fans, we created a story that served the overarching desire to connect with not only the old but also with the direction that the new films were heading, and to enjoy the stories still yet to come.”

“What was truly amazing to see, was that all of this came together right in our own backyard. Utah has a strong film community and we were lucky to be able to source the right people for our projects, right here, at home.”

The Distant Echo is showing at Utah’s first Star Wars Fan Film Festival on May 3 at 7pm, at Jordan Commons Megaplex, Sandy. RSVP is required: starwasdresca@gmail.com

 

Debra Vago is a publicist, writer and film enthusiast. She resides in Salt Lake City, having relocated from London, England.

Contact Debra for any Utah Film Commission press and media inquires at filmpress@utah.gov.

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