Cool your jets, Star Wars fans: the Episode VII trailer isn’t out just yet. But Lucasfilm has shared with Mashable the trailer for something just as insanely brilliant: a fan-made, shot-for-shot remake of the canon’s ultimate classic, the Empire Strikes Back, coming to StarWars.com this Friday.
If this sounds familiar, you may be thinking of its predecessor, the Emmy award-winning project known as Star Wars Uncut. The brainchild of engineer and designer Casey Pugh, Star Wars Uncut took the original Star Wars, and chopped it up into 15-second segments. The idea was that fans would sign up online to remake each 15-second bit, and Pugh would stitch together the result.
“I was trying to see how fast I could make a movie,” Pugh told Mashable. “What I didn’t expect was all the creativity and engagement of Star Wars fans. Parents worked with their kids to make these elaborate 15-second videos. They spent weeks on them. The amount of blood and sweat that went into this was astounding.”
The project went viral — so much so that Pugh ended up with three fan submissions for each of the 470 segments. That meant you could watch the whole thing online multiple times, and never see it the same way twice.
Pugh called the result “organized mayhem.” Industry watchers called it pure comedy gold. Star Wars Uncut won a special Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Media upon its release in 2010.
Check out the Director’s Cut version, here, featuring everything from cardboard and Lego versions of famous Star Wars scenes to a Yellow Submarine homage:
Pugh also got a call from George Lucas’s company, which loved the idea. Lucasfilm flew Pugh out to its San Francisco headquarters, and urged him to collaborate with them on a sequel, Empire Strikes Back Uncut. A year and a half in the making, Empire promises to be an even bigger and better version of the Uncut project, based on the work of more than 1,000 contributors and twice the amount of submissions.
“Everyone’s got HD cameras now,” Pugh pointed out. “People have higher expectations. They went even more crazy, put even more time into it.” His editor did, too, finding ways to squeeze parts of every fan-submitted 15-second clip into the movie.
Check out a few examples of this raw material, below, from the Dagobah scenes between Luke Skywalker and Yoda:
If you’re guffawing at the no-budget results of such familiar scenes, know that you’re not alone. “I always say that if we ever show this in theaters, it should be in 20-minute intervals,” Pugh said. “You’re laughing hysterically; your brain needs a rest.”
And this is just the beginning; Lucasfilm is making a concerted effort to encourage more fan-made films. The company has revived its Star Wars Fan Film Awards, last seen in 2010, just in time for the new movies.
“With the emergence of user-generated content over the last couple of years, we decided to give the awards a break,” a Lucasfilm spokesperson explained. “With all of the exciting things going on in the Star Wars universe, now was as good of a time as any to bring them back.”
Check back in on Friday, when we’ll have the final version of Empire Strikes Back Uncut.
Chris Taylor is the author of How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, the first complete history of the Star Wars franchise and its fandom.