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Every Friday we will check out the best the Internet has to offer in Fan Films. These are the films based on the stories and the characters you love, directed by fans with big ideas and great executions. We will check out Fan Films from the Star Wars Universe, the DC Universe, The Marvel Universe and anything else we think you would love to watch.

This week we take a look at the Star Wars Fan Film, Jakku: First Wave. A short film that follows 3 Stormtroopers and the moments before they are dropped into battle on Jakku. So sit back hit the play button above and enjoy Jakku: First Wavescreen-shot-2016-09-30-at-10-25-50-amThe thing I loved about this Fan Film is that it gives a face to the Stormtroopers. It actually makes you feel for what they do and gives you a sense of what they are fighting for. It’s a simple idea with great acting and great direction.

We sat down with Director Benjamin Eck to find out what it took to get this labour of love made.

Why do you think this story needed to be told? 
I don’t know that this story needed to be told per se because I didn’t have start with an underlying message to the film and wasn’t trying to portray anything other than “these are people too”. I built the story on what I know and what inspires me and simply wanted to combine my influences. What is interesting though, is how audience members perceive the story differently based on their own personal belief system.
How did this adventure start?
It all starts with a deep love of Star Wars. My friend and DP on this project recently joined the 501st legion as a Stormtrooper and it was pretty incredible to see his armor in person for the first time. It felt true and real like an actual historic war relic. Holding the helmet was unreal, here was this thing I’d loved so much my entire life but only ever saw in movies and images and now I was getting to hold it in my hands. That’s when he invited me to try the helmet on and it instantly flipped a switch in my mind. Wow, there really are guys in here. I’d always known that, but this made it real. This made me want to tell a story from their angle, a human angle. Growing up in a military household, I’ve always had a deep respect for our service men and women. So I set out to marry these two ideas and bring a militaristic realism to the soldiers under the armor.

 

Doing the project out of pocket meant I had to keep things lean, which really informed the scale of the story. Listening to first hand war stories always intrigued me so that’s where I wanted to put the audience, with the troopers, telling stories.  I knew that a couple of 501st members were already willing to come out for a day and lend their armor to my actors so that’s what lead me to center the project around the three troopers (all the armor I could get). But where to put them? Inside an imperial walker before a D-Day style assault seemed a fitting place to reminisce. So that’s what we did.

 

I researched the hell out of the inside of a Walker, designed the set in Cinema4D which my DP later transferred to Google SketchUp, and we built the set together. I truly mean when I say this project was a labor of love. Countless trips to Home Depot, and waking up at 5am every morning to build what I could on the set before my day job at 9. Then continuing after the work day and through the weekends. It was all absolutely worth it and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I hope you enjoy watching the film as much as we had making it!
What were the highs?
The highs were being on set surrounded by Stormtrooper armor and working with my actors to bring these troopers stories to life.
What were the lows?
The lows… building the set and the last VFX shot. Being essentially no budget meant I did way too much by myself and there were nights I wanted to throw in the towel or just crawl into a hole and sleep for weeks. The final VFX was even more tedious, I had to teach myself a lot of 3D VFX work in order to pull that shot off. There are so many moving parts and my appreciation for the scroll of VFX credits at the end of a summer blockbuster grew ten fold.
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What is your favorite Star Wars film?
Favorite Star Wars film is “The Empire Strikes Back” I always had an affinity for the dark side, as you can tell.
What can we expect from you next?
My next project will likely be a sci-fi military feature I wrote or I will focus more on commercial work. We’ll see what happens!
Where can people find you?
People can find me on my website at benjamineck.com or twitter @benjamineck
Finally check out this behind the scenes look of Benjamin and his team build the interior of the ATAT as part of the set.
If you know of a Fan Film that we might love to see send it over to editor@soisitanygood.com and we check it out for another Fan Film Fridays!

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