BUCKETHEADS is a Fantastic STAR WARS Fan Film

Several months ago, we shared the trailer for Bucketheads: A Star Wars Story. It’s a fan film that follows a squad of Stormtroopers as they escort a prisoner. Well, the full film has been released and it’s fantastic. My favorite part is the cinematography if I’m honest. I thought the camera work was brilliant. Bucketheads was written, produced, and directed by Marco Bossow and Andy Brown with music by Samuel Kim. The cast includes Troy Mundle, Kat Ruston, Steve Davie, and the voices of Mark Meer, Isaac Keoughan, and Grizz Salzl. Here’s the full film, and I’ve included the story behind it after the video as provided by Bossow and Brown.

When we wrote Bucketheads in January 2017, our goal was to tell a story set in the Star Wars universe that hasn’t been told before. Star Wars has such rich lore, but it seems like almost all films, official and fan films alike, focus exclusively on the Jedi and Rebels. Even the official attempts to tell a story from the Empire’s point of you, like Star Wars Battlefront II, seem half-hearted and cut short through turn-coat plost-twists. Our goal was to provide a snippet from the life of Imperial forces on the ground, without taking sides. It’s very clear that the Empire is an allegory to fascism, however Star Wars has always been very absolute in their portrayal of Good and Evil. We thought blurring those clearly drawn lines and just considering what drove the human beings on the supposedly evil side would be a worthwhile narrative to pursue.

Over the next 6 months, we assembled a team made up of local film industry professionals and skilled artists to create the props and costumes needed to pull of a believable Star Wars world. We went to camera in early September 2017 and shot for four days on a local paintball course. Getting all the cast, crew and equipment out into the woods, which was about a 10 minute walk from the parking lot and crossing a river, was quite the large undertaking. Several members of the 501stLegion, which is a worldwide Star Wars costume organisation that attends community events for charitable causes, participated in the making of the film by portraying Stormtroopers in the screen-accurate costumes they built in a painstaking process that can take months. They were incredibly humble and endured tremendous heat, dust and discomfort to get us the shots that we needed.

Once principal photography was completed and a rough cut had been assembled, we thought about ways to make this project stand out to the Star Wars and general nerd community. The question was always “What would excite me as a Star Wars fan?”. Through my involvement in the 501st legion, I knew Shane Molina (goes by “HawaiianMakoDesign”), who is a wickedly talented artist that specializes in Star Wars art and does commissioned work for LucasFilm. We showed him the project and he was more than happy to create an amazing poster for us. After posting this on Reddit, a production company from Australia named “itsgotstealth” contacted us and offered to create the stylized credits sequence for us that you can see in the final film. This wasn’t something we originally planned for, but we were obviously extremely excited that such skilled artists were wanting to contribute to our project. Finally, through a mutual friend we got in touch with Mark Meer, who famously voiced Commander Sheperd in the Mass Effect franchise. After watching a rough cut, he agreed to provide the voice for one of the characters in our film. This voice over session was an exhilarating experience for me. I’m personally a huge fan of Mass Effect and having the Commander himself voice lines I wrote under my direction was something I’ll never forget.

By March 2018, we realized that our narrative was missing something. The film originally started with the crash-landing without providing much context. Not wanting to add an opening title crawl feeding the audience exposition, we decided to add what is now the opening scene inside the shuttle. A props maker friend of our built the shuttle set in two weekends and we found a local film studios that let us film the scene in a single day.

All the while, our Visual Effects Supervisor Tom Rolfe, a 20 year industry veteran, was working on completing the 52 visual effects shots in our film. Only being able to devote a certain amount of his free time, it took about 8 months to complete all the major shots. We had a finished version that we submitted to festivals around June 2018, however we were still making small improvements up to a month before the online release.

In August we screened a work-in-progress-cut of the film at DragonCon in Atlanta and won the Spirit of DragonCon Award. Making Bucketheads has been a wild ride and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed creating this Star Wars Story. A sequel has already been written, but we also have plans for other original projects outside the Star Wars universe and are always looking for new material to bring to the big screen.

I wonder where the sequel will take us.

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