Category Archives: Film

Star Wars Fan Film: The Recompense

I’ve written about The Recompense here, and that writeup includes interviews with the creative team putting the film together. This is just a quick note to remind you that The Recompense has a kick starter project with one week left. So, now, you have to go there and kick in a few bucks!

The graphic above is the budget breakdown for the film, indicating what has already been invested and what the Kickstarter campaign will fund. Here is a note from the film’s team:

With just over one week left in our campaign, we wanted to show you how your contributions, if our project is successfully funded, will affect the production of our film.

Your support enables us to finish building our sets, create the first ever live-action Bothan, bring practical, tangible effects to the film, and provide comfort and a place to rest for our cast and crew to stay in top shape throughout the production of the film.

In order to make this project a reality though, we need your support now more than ever, as we enter into our final week tomorrow.

Spread the word on social media, and share our page with friends and family. Chances are, someone you know is a Star Wars fan! Show them what we’re trying to accomplish, and encourage them to contribute even as little as $1. The more backers we have, the more popular our project becomes, and the better chance we have of bringing this tribute to Star Wars to life, and having you all along for the ride.

Remember – if our project does not reach it’s fundraising goal, we receive none of the funds, and this film can’t be made.

Strap yourselves in…. Time to make the jump to lightspeed.

– The Recompense Team

So, here is the kickstarter you are looking for.

New Star Wars Film: The Recompense

Bounty hunter Jahdo Kyn intends to start a new life, but in order to leave his troubled past behind he has to buy himself a new future. He has a plan, but as his plan develops he discovers a dilemma, one that requires him to make choices he is not well-prepared to make. This is what happens when you have the kind of past Jahdo Kyn has made for himself.

The Recompense concept art: Analiese Miller as Aisha Lefu.
The Recompense concept art: Analiese Miller as Aisha Lefu.
The beautiful and deadly Aisha Lefu is part of that past. And she’s not the only individual that will make Jahdo Kyn wish he hadn’t gotten out of bed that one morning, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

A New Star Wars Fan Film

And that is the setup for The Recompense, a Star Wars fan film directed by Ben Enke. “Making a Star Wars fan film has been unlike any experience in independent filmmaking for me so far,” Enke mused. “Upon receiving permission from the Star Wars ?gods themselves at Lucasfilms, we immediately began to feel a responsibility to ensure that the content we were producing was of the highest quality.”

The Recompense will will develop the seedy side of the Star Wars world, relating the characters’ past and present to produce a futuristic film noir.

The screenplay is written by Conrad Flemming, though with a great deal of feedback from the others involved in the film. Flemming told me, “I did write the script, but felt it was more of a collaborative effort, as many fans, filmmakers, authors, and friends provided feedback for each draft I turned over to them for review. I wanted to get it perfect, because this is Star Wars after all, and we’re being watched closely.”

Shooting The Recompense. Conrad Flemming (Producer/Screenwriter) in the back left, Analiese Miller (playing Aisha Lefu) in the pilot's seat, Matt Roy (playing Jahdo Kyn) on the right, and Heather Peterson in the back right.
Shooting The Recompense. Conrad Flemming (Producer/Screenwriter) in the back left, Analiese Miller (playing Aisha Lefu) in the pilot’s seat, Matt Roy (playing Jahdo Kyn) on the right, and Heather Peterson in the back right.
In an effort to capture that certain je ne sais quoi of le film noir and the original Star Wars films, Enke and cinematographer Brent Duncan chose some interesting technology. “The lenses we are using are all vintage 1970’s Canon lenses,” said Duncan. “When I met with Ben and Conrad we discussed the look the film should have and they said they wanted something that would have the feel of The Empire Strikes Back and the look and tone of Blade Runner. After doing massive amounts of research I found out what lenses were used to film not only the original Star Wars (A New Hope), but also Empire Strikes Back, Blade Runner and Alien.”

The lenses have a slightly radioactive coating made with Throium. “Upon doing more research I discovered that Canon also made still photography lenses (SLR lenses) that had this same coating. The still lenses work beautifully and cost a fraction of the cinema lenses cost, so using them was a no-brainer,” Duncan told me. “The next step was to find a vintage anamorphic lens that would help solidify the look to match as best we could the look of the films we all loved growing up. Once I found that, all the pieces fell in place and we were able to achieve a look that we were all very pleased with and that is, in my opinion at least, very close to Blade Runner and the other late 70’s and early 80’s sci-fi masterpieces.”

Jahdo Kyn.
Jahdo Kyn.
The Recompense is set between Episodes IV and V of the original Star Wars series, on Ord Mantell, a Mid Rim planet. Star Wars fans will recognize another planet in that actor, Naboo, and may remember Han Solo telling Leia in the Empire Strikes Back, “Well the bounty hunter we ran into on Ord Mantell changed my mind.” (“The Bounty Hunter of Ord Mantell” also refers to a 1981 comic strip written by Archie Goodwin, illustrated by Al Williamson.)

I asked director Ben Enke what technologies Star Wars fans might be looking for are used in the film. He told me, “our most obvious one would be our spaceship, which has a fully functional cockpit with all sorts of buttons and switches that are operable. We have a crotchety old Clone War vulture droid built into the ship that you’ll never really get a chance to see, but he’s definitely part of what gives our ship some personality and life, and he’s fantastic.” Regarding weapons, Enke said there are “plenty of blasters (some really cool ones being developed for this, particularly a modular gun that serves as a few different weapons), and there may or may not be a vibroblade battle! But definitely no lightsabers. That was a very conscious decision by myself and Conrad, based on previous fan films that overuse lightsabers to death.” Screenplay writer Flemming added, “Ben and I decided early on, since this was taking place in a time when the ‘Jedi are all but extinct’ there wouldn’t be a whole lot of lightsaber battles taking place in the middle of city streets and in back alleys. Ben and I each had specific shots we wanted in the movie that ultimately got cut from the script. Ben wanted our hero to shoot a thermal detonator out of the air, and I wanted our villain to fly around on a speeder bike.”

Enke also told me, “we’re developing some original tech as well, based on the kind of planet and environment we’re going to be in. Ord Mantell, which is the planet that this entire film takes place on, has rain, and it rains all the time, so we’re coming up with some neat tech that plays into that aspect of it.”

One of the most interesting aspects of this film is how it is being made. Aside from the selection of period radioactive lenses to create a vintage look and feel, the film makers have built sets with a higher than usual degree of interactivity with the actors, and created actual alien prosthetics rather than using motion capture or green screen suits. They make creative use of rear-projection screens to simulate different environments.

You can help make this film, as it is being crowd funded on Kickstarter. There are a number of cool rewards, including early access packages, an autographed DVD with the original soundtrack, original concept art, your rights to name a character, and props and costumes. At the highest level, you can have the Greasy Mynock itself. See this page for more details!

The final production will have a 45 minute runtime, and will be shown in 15 minute segments on the internet. Enke also hopes to show the film at various Conventions and similar venues.

Here’s a tease:

And, if you are interested in some more Sci Fi, check out my novella about an elusive African Ape, aliens, Bigfoot, and the origins of the Skeptics movement: In Search of Sungudogo.

Here is a short film by the same production house, TruHaven Studio, “Three Card Draw”:

Ana is coming up the Atlantic

I remember joking with my friend Ana about how her name would be attached to the first named storm in the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane season. It turns out Ana is an exceptional individual. Both of them.

Ana Miller as Aisha Lefu in "The Recompense: A Star Wars Fan Film."
Ana Miller as Aisha Lefu in “The Recompense: A Star Wars Fan Film.”
Ana, my friend, is an actor and is currently engaged in a project I’ll be telling you more about later. But in the meantime, you can visit this page and find out about a new and very interesting Star Wars related crowd-funded production called The Recompense. Give them money.

Meanwhile, back in the Atlantic Ocean, Tropical Storm Ana has formed, nearly three weeks before the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. A few days ago Ana was a disorganized disturbance (I’m talking about the storm here) and now Ana is a full on tropical storm tracking the very warm Gulf Stream. Winds are steady at 60 miles per hour, gusting to 70.

From the National Weather Service:

Deep convection has increased somewhat near the center of the storm, and SFMR observations from the Air Force Hurricane Hunters continue to support an intensity of 50 kt. Ana will be moving over the cooler waters to the northwest of the Gulf Stream later today, and water vapor imagery shows a belt of upper-level northerly flow advancing toward the tropical cyclone. The decreasing sea surface temperatures and increasing northerly shear should cause Ana to weaken as it nears the coast. The official intensity forecast is similar to that from the previous package, and very close to the latest intensity model consensus, IVCN.

Tropical Storm Ana, the first storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Tropical Storm Ana, the first storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.
The initial motion estimate is 320/3. The track forecast reasoning remains basically unchanged from the past few advisories. Global models continue to predict that the blocking mid-level ridge to the north of Ana will shift eastward and weaken over the next couple of days. These models also show a broad trough moving from the central to the eastern U.S. over the next 72 hours or so. This should result in the cyclone turning northward and north-northeastward with a gradual increase in forward speed. The official track forecast is similar to the previous one and in good agreement with the latest dynamical model consensus, TVCN.

Hey, good news, the NWS is implementing the long-ago announced policy of GETTING RID OF ALL CAPS!!1!! Meanwhile, Ana the Storm is expected to strike the coast of South Carolina, and/or North Carolina, tonight. The storm, once over land, will turn northeast and make its way back out to sea off Delmarva, and eventually menace, a little, southern New England. The middle of the storm will probably be crossing the Carolina coast about 8:00 AM Sunday, and what is left of it will be re-joining the coast and the Atlantic early Monday.

Does The Rite Have the Right Stuff?

As an ex-Catholic, I can appreciate a good movie involving Satin1 or his Minions. There are several reasons for this. For one thing, I get the jokes.2 Some of them are rather subtle and require an understanding of church dogma. Also, I can relate to the stranger side of the belief system from personal experience. When the book The Exorcist came out, everyone in my family read it, we all discussed it, and we considered the question: “Is it true or not?” And we decided that it was true. It probably helped that my cousin was a trained Exorcist, though I don’t believe he ever actually exorcised anyone. It is said, though, that he witnessed … strange things … when in Rome learning the craft.
Continue reading Does The Rite Have the Right Stuff?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

We braved ice and fog to go down to see Harry Potter this morning. And yes, it was indeed icy, which was a bit traumatic for me. Last time I was walking on glare ice, I fell and seriously injured my knee. That was last February and I’m still doing physical therapy and taking the occasional pain killer. We did make it across the glare ice of the parking lot safely, but the manager of the movie theater did find regret in his decision to put no salt out to keep his customers in said parking lot safe. Yes, it was an embarrassing spectacle for all but when we left the theater after the movie the staff kept their distance and we had salt and sand on the ground all the way out to the car.

Continue reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia [citation needed]

I like Wikipedia, I really do. But there are also some serious, very serious problems with it. I just read the entries on the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, a few related historical entries, and the entry on the movie Zulu, which is about the Battle of Rorke’s drift.

My interest here is in looking at how things African are depicted in movies and other aspects of popular culture, especially historical events and “traditional” cultures. (I am not an expert on modern African studies.)

I will write about that at another time: Suffice it to say that at this point it is obvious that the overall pattern of divergences from historical (probable) fact in the movie can be best understood in reference to the by then well developed African in Western Eyes trope. One of the more blatant divergences is the invention of a person who simply was not present at the event (interestingly, there seems to be only one significant example of this in the movie) and it is “the young white woman” without which no Western movie about Africa would be complete.

Anyway, in reviewing these Wikipedia entries, I noticed that the Wikipedia process has it’s own pattern, including a preponderance of (amateur?) military historians at the keyboard who are unable to leave a single fact unturned no matter how insignificant, and a nearly complete lack of proportion so that very important facts get glossed. In addition, if you are Black or African, don’t expect your dead to be honored like the white dead will be. Shame.

And so, this all inspired me to make fun of Wikipedia with the following parody:
Continue reading Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia [citation needed]

An organic workout, a strange encounter, and a movie

Replacing floors is a total exercise routine. Moving furniture out of the way, ripping up whatever is there, measuring and cutting new sub flooring, carting around heavy sheets of plywood, tacking and nailing, and so on and so forth works every single muscle in one’s body. That’s what we did last weekend. Also, I was able to demonstrate my special technique for testing if a particular floor is safe, or if it is so rotted out that it has to be replaced; You stand on it bouncing up and down a little bit and if you crash through to the basement, that part of the floor was bad.

Saw the strangest insect thing we’ve seen in a long time. A wasp of some sort was covered … the entire body but not the head was covered … with little tiny things that looked like mites or itty bitty spiders or ticks or something. They were two or three thick over the wasp’s entire body. On first seeing this, I thought it was a wasp covered with bubble-bath. When Amanda first saw the insect staggering among old flooring debris, she thought it was a large drunken bumble bee, and not the lightly built wasp that it was.

(Added: It may not be a wasp. It is kind of hard to tell, being enveloped in several layers of tiny organisms and all.)

We put it in a jar so we can figure it out later.

We all sat down to watch a movie last night after a long day of prying and pounding and cutting and dragging stuff. The Informant, staring Matt Damon. I was the only one who did not drift off to sleep before the end, so I was the only one that saw the film to its rather bizarre conclusion. The movie is about one of the first major anti price fixing suits of the modern era, in the 1980s and early 1990s. It reminded me of a conversation I had with someone back in the 1970s, before any of that happened. He was an economist who worked for the international organization representing paper pulp manufacturers. He told me, with a few drinks in him and with a little too much hubris, about how price fixing worked in his industry. Apparently, he was more or less in charge of fixing production and pricing internationally for pulp manufacturers (or, at least, head organizer of this effort). He told me that the regulators would actually watch them at their international meetings (I did not know if he meant overly or covertly), so the representatives of each major pulp producing company would play it totally cool and do nothing about production and price fixing at said meetings. Then there would be a private golf game, at which the representatives of the various manufacturers would fix the prices. He was very proud of how he outsmarted to cops. I wonder if he ever got caught? Anyway, the movie was interesting, I recommend it.

THEM!

I recently watched this film for the first time since I was a little kid. The plot is much more nuanced than I had realized at the time.

Interesting mixture of science and religion.