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Spotlight: Order of the Sith

Posted: Mon, 7th Mar 2005, 3:16pm

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Simon K Jones

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Rating: +5

Occasionally a fanfilm comes along that is a little bit special, one that gives you reason to sit up straight and pay attention. Order of the Sith has three such reasons: David Prowse, Jeremy Bulloch and Michael Sheard.

To Star Wars fans, these three need no introduction. They're better known to us as Darth Vader, Boba Fett and Admiral Ozzel (aka Hitler, if you prefer Indiana Jones, or as Mr. Bronson, if you're British and of a certain age) - and fanfilm director Marcus 'Fuser' Lewis somehow managed to get them all to appear in Order of the Sith.

Joining the Dark Side

"I'd seen another Star Wars fanfilm that had managed to get one of the Imperial Officers from A New Hope in their film," recounts Marcus, "and it was by far the coolest thing I'd seen in a fanfilm." Not content with a single appearance, he went after half the cast of The Empire Strikes Back.

"I contacted a few of the original cast members, and Michael Sheard offered his services as a voice-over." With one fan favourite already onboard, Marcus found that other cast members were also interested and Prowse and Bulloch soon joined the team.

A long time ago...

Winding back the clock aways, the seed for Order of the Sith was planted when Marcus constructed a lightsaber with a neon tube and put together a few effects tests. "We filmed it for a laugh," he says, "and were surprised at how good it looked on film - the whole idea took off from there really."

As anybody that has watched the film will know, the majority of it was shot on greenscreen, which normally requires extensive pre-planning. "I wrote a fairly detailed script and planned the shoot scene by scene," he recalls casually, "but I didn't really do much more than that."

Fixing the hyperdrive

Slightly mirroring Lucas' shift to HD cameras for the prequels, albeit on a slightly less grand scale, Marcus' team began by using an aged Hi8 camera then started over again once acquiring a miniDV camera. "We spent two days shooting and then scrapped it all. The second shoot went quicker because we knew what we were doing."

The entire production from start to finish took six months and required a steep learning curve. "We hadn't lit the greenscreen quite right, so some of the shots were tough," explains Marcus. "At the same time I was learning how to use both Chromanator and AlamDV pretty much from scratch. My only previous film was the original Order of the Sith, so I'm hardly well trained!"

Despite the greenscreen difficulties, the final film is a thoroughly entertaining romp that displays lots of imagination and a sense of humour that is unfortunately rare in fanfilms. The highlights, inevitably, are the cameo appearances by the three original trilogy veterans. "Fantastic!" says Marcus, when asked about working with the actors. "As a life-long Star Wars fanatic, I can hardly describe how exciting it was for me to film them reading and acting something I had written in the Star Wars universe. I've been pretty uncontainable ever since to tell you the truth..."

All for a good cause

Even better than having Vader, Boba Fett and Ozzel show up in the same fanfilm is that the production is officially supporting the Save The Children charity. If you watch the movie, please also consider making a donation - appropriate links can be found below.

As for the Sith, Marcus promises that the story will be concluded. "All three original trilogy stars have already filmed their bits, and I'll be starting the script in earnest in a few weeks." Keep an eye-out this time next year for the next installment, and in the meantime enjoy having Prowse, Bulloch and Sheard together for the first time since Empire!

Links

Save The Children donation - http://www.orderofthesith.net/thanks.htm

Talk about the film at FXhome - http://fxhome.com/cinema/info_cache/movieinfo1679.html
Order of the Sith website - http://www.orderofthesith.net/
Michael Sheard - http://www.michaelsheard.com/
David Prowse - http://www.darthvader-starwars.com/
Jeremy Bulloch - http://www.jeremybulloch.com/
Posted: Mon, 7th Mar 2005, 5:58pm

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Redhawksrymmer

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I saw the first part of this movie and I thought it was really good. And so is the second part, as well as Tarn's writing talent smile .
Posted: Mon, 7th Mar 2005, 9:14pm

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Serpent

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Nice spotlight, as usual. smile
Posted: Mon, 7th Mar 2005, 10:28pm

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TiCy

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Haven't seen it yet, but it's just finished loading, so I'll watch it in a couple of minutes. Seems nice, though. Must be a Star Wars-fans wet dream to have 3 actors from the original cast in a fanfilm!

Edit: Well, it wasn't really the best fanfilm I've seen (Troops), and it was a bit annoying that the volume of the effects and music wasn't on the same level as the volume of the speech, but it was a pretty good short, especially the part with "SLY?! Sly?! Sly...?".
Posted: Tue, 8th Mar 2005, 1:49am

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Z28Jerry

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Can't say much for this one, but at least Tarns spolight was entertaining to read wink
Posted: Wed, 9th Mar 2005, 12:57am

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ssjaaron

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well I am downloading it right now, but i salute clap you Fuser, for supporting the childernfoundation. I am sure i will enjoy your film
good luck
Posted: Wed, 23rd Mar 2005, 3:51pm

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DarrenS

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Awful film, very badly acted. Don't care how many 'names' they have, the whole thing smacks of amateurs, certainly someone there did not have a clue how to make a film!
Posted: Fri, 8th Apr 2005, 1:47pm

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Forge

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Rating: +1

Order of the Sith: Vengeance does not have as high quality CG as some fanfilms such as "Star Wars: Knightquest". There are some areas within the fanfilm which lack "acting flare". However, it is a FANfilm. Two years ago, even one year ago, this movie would have rated much higher; however, the ability of fans to create high quality movies has increased incredibly. Instead of using Windows moviemaker, we're using Adobe Premiere, and all of a sudden CG is becoming as common as lightsabers. However, even by today's standards, Order of the Sith is an excellent fanfilm. A fanfilm's quality should never be rated strictly on the quality of the compression, the eloquence of the acting, or the complexity of the computer generation. A fanfilm should be rated by the heart put into it., the effort it took on the part of the director, with his own ability and limited resources, to create his production. You can easily see that Marcus put an incredible amount of effort into Order of the Sith. Imagine the work it took to coordinate the movie; from scheduling the actors, to setting up his sets to shoot the film, to implementing the spec FX. And then, to top it all off, he directs every penny to charity. Order of the Sith may not be the high quality, big budget fanfilm you sometimes see today, but blast it, it's got alot of heart, and in my book; that makes it a fanfilm to remember.

-CJ-
Posted: Wed, 22nd Jun 2005, 1:30am

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Bugclimber

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ChristianJedi wrote:

CG is becoming as common as lightsabers.
For the people with MONEY! razz It's tough being 14. The only income you get is allowance. (Or in my case making movies for peoples' special occasions!)
Posted: Thu, 1st Sep 2005, 10:28am

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Simon K Jones

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Unfortunately, we heard today that Michael Sheard has died after a battle with cancer at the age of 65.

More information can be found at his website:

http://www.michaelsheard.com/
Posted: Thu, 1st Sep 2005, 11:28am

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Zeroman

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What a pity.

65 isn't extremely old.

This was his last film, right?

R.I.P.
Posted: Tue, 13th Sep 2005, 8:58am

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Fuser

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Hi - I believe it was his last film yes: I still have his performance for Downfall (which I am making now) on my hard drive - but I will have to contact his wife at some point to see if she is happy for me to still use it.

To CJ - thanks for the support!

smile

Incidentally, we raised about £4000 for Save the Children with the film which we are well chuffed with.
We are going to try and do the same again with Downfall. We've got more Star support in the lovely shape of Jedi Master Lingerie Model Orli Shoshan, and the technical quality is leaps ahead - I managed to afford a nice Panasonic 3CCD cam, and spent £200 on 3 pots of chromakey paint. That still hurts......

Check the website to see how we are going on! ( www.orderofthesith.net )