Watch the May 2016 Fan Fiction Screenplay Winner.
STAR WARS Episode I: THE REDEMPTION OF SKYWALKER
Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Action, Fantasy
Synopsis: Some stories are too important, some stories must be retold. The story of Anakin Skywalker will be molded between the pressure of separate forces vying for his soul, which will determine the fate of the galaxy.
Get to know writer Brian O’Flaherty:
What is your screenplay about?
The screenplay is about the events that took place prior to Star Wars, A New Hope. It is the first part of a trilogy, that tells the story of these events.
How is this origin story different than the original episode 1? What makes it better/different?
There is no argument that can be made, to convince someone on the merit of the original prequel movies, and “better” is a subjective idea anyway. However, many Star Wars fans were disappointed with the original prequel movies, and I believe there are a multitude of reasons for this, but I will only touch on what I believe to be the main reason for this disappointment.
The main reason for this disappointment, relates to the question of “what” Star Wars is, and/or what it has become.
The original Star Wars was one of the most popular movies to ever come out. It redefined so much, relating with not only how to technically create a sci-fi movie, but in how to create the elements of the story, the characters, the pacing, the comedy, etc.
It was a perfect storm of creative vision (Lucas), comedic writing, pacing, editing, and of course musical masterpieces.
It was created as a team effort, like a well tuned sports car, and I believe, if any element was out of place, it would have turned into the flop that they initially feared it to be.
The original intention was to create a “space adventure film,” and although technically, one could define Star Wars in this context, it became something much greater than this simple idea.
The reason it became something much greater than a “space adventure film” is because of the idea of “the force.” The force turned Star Wars from just another “fun sci-fi movie” into something special. It quite literally, gave it “soul.” Star Wars became a narrative about the human condition, asking the ultimate philosophical questions about what it means to be human, and how our choices and thoughts effect us, not just in the physical world, but also in the “spiritual.”
No matter what one’s personal beliefs, this philosophical narrative is compelling, and it’s at the heart of Star Wars.
Without getting into detail, my screenplay attempts to bring back the “soul” of Star Wars, because I believe this is what made people fall in love with it, on a deep, emotional level.
How would you describe this script in two words?
One of the main plot point differences with this Star Wars script and the 7 produced films is that the story is not continuous. We jump from timeframes in Anakin’s development years. Some will argue that this isn’t Star Wars and the films need to a seamless adventure set in the same time. Why did you diverge from the original structure? And what makes this version still in the Star Wars universe vain?
Good question. First of all, you can’t (or shouldn’t) make a new Star Wars film by copying the last films. The original Star Wars cannot be recreated. It is not possible. Any attempt to do so, will not create something original, it will simply “ride the wave” of what people think “Star Wars” is, but any attempt at doing this is intrinsically flawed and will fall flat.
For example, although I liked the new movie, because it had many original elements, and was well crafted, fundamentally, it was a copy of the story from A New Hope. For example, the destruction of the “Death Star” fell flat and emotionless, because it was simply a copy from something we had already seen before, and the audience was not emotionally involved with it, for it was a fairly obvious retread.
Also, The Empire Strikes Back, was a very different movie from A New Hope. It added very strong elements of romance, elements of philosophy, and elements of “family.” This is one of the reasons people believe it to be the “best” Star Wars movie, because it laid the foundation for the “soul” of Star Wars, which I discussed previously.
People could have argued that The Empire Strikes Back was not “Star Wars,” for these reasons. However, it maintained similar comedic undertones, philosophical ideas, musical and pacing elements as the first movie.
To further that point, The Return of The Jedi, was again, a very different movie from the previous two. It was more dialogue heavy, had a slower pacing, and actually had a story structure that was broken up between the two unrelated story locations of Jabba’s palace and the Endor moon. Jabba’s palace did not lead to the Endor moon. People could argue that Return of The Jedi wasn’t “Star Wars.”
On the final point, about continuity. I feel that Stars Wars has so many crucial elements that are vastly more important than timeframe continuity in a single film. Although I would have preferred to have a relatively continuous timeframe, I feel it was more important to create a structure that follows the entirety of the character study of Anakin Skywalker.
I feel the character study of Anakin Skywalker is too complex, to devote an entire film to his time as a child. There is simply too much ground to cover.
On the flip side, Anakin’s story as a child is too important to leave out entirely. The size and scope of the trilogy requires a timeframe jump. This is likely to be the only timeframe jump in the trilogy.
To say it is not “Star Wars” because it contains a timeframe jump, seems silly to me, because the elements of Star Wars are there, and missing a single stylistic element, doesn’t seem to contradict anything about the originals.
In addition to this, The Empire Strikes Back has a slight timeframe jump as well. A jump that is not clearly explained, but is there. The time Luke spends training with Yoda is not explained, relating to how much time has passed. It is clear that a significant amount of time had passed (I believe the writer said “months”) and I doubt people would consider this lack of pure timeframe continuity to “not be Star Wars.”
How long have you been working on this screenplay?
For the version read at your festival, I spent about fourteen months. Although there was plenty of note taking before I even started writing.
How many stories have you written?
This is my first complete screenplay, although there are several versions. You have read the “abridged” version.
What motivated you to write this screenplay?
It has been a fire burning in my belly for years. I never intended to send it to a festival however. I found out about several “fan fiction” festivals after I had nearly finished writing it.
Ultimately, the reason I wrote it, was to somehow, someway, make it into a movie, because that is what screenplays are for, and that it how I wrote it. I didn’t write it to be an entertaining read. I wrote it to be an entertaining movie.
What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
The biggest obstacle is feedback. You must get some feedback. I have a friend who was willing to read it, and provide feedback. I took some of his advice, but stuck to my heart where I disagreed with him.
The ability to receive feedback, and use it to your advantage, is a critical part of writing, I believe, because when you’re writing, you don’t know if what you are doing is making any sense or not. It’s easy to get into your own head and think something is working when it is not, or think something is not working, when it is.
Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Star Wars and Shakira.
What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
The feedback was priceless. Again, feedback is crucial. You must hear what someone thinks about the script. The next thing that is crucial, is to stick with what you believe in, and make changes where you feel the criticism has found something worthwhile.
Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
Thinking is the most important part. Have a notepad, where you can write down ideas when they come into your head. You will NOT remember them later. You must write down the thoughts that come into your head. I use my smart phone for this. I write notes down all the time, some of it is never used, but most of it is what makes the foundation for the screenplay.
Second, you need as much feedback as you can get. They don’t have to be professional readers, but they MUST find some sort of criticism with your work.
Worthless feedback is when you are told something is “good” or “bad.” Anything else is valuable and necessary.
Equally important to receiving feedback, is your ability to use it for YOUR BENEFIT. Use it like a tool. Don’t use it to satisfy somebody else’s idea of how things should be, unless you absolutely have to as a requirement.
Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson