The following is a guest post by Robert Jenner.
There are many motivations for why a fan film is made. Sometimes it’s just to have fun playing with established and known characters and worlds and to make something with friends. Sometimes it’s to try and get noticed in an industry that is notoriously hard to break into, and sometimes, such as with the film I am about to talk about, it is a final project needed to graduate.
From Rebels to The Last Jedi, and the many new projects that Disney is planning, it’s safe to say that Star Wars will be with us for a very long time. With the resurgence of the franchise there has also been a resurgence of Star Wars fan films, everyone wants to play in the sandbox that George Lucas created. The Grey is a production of the students from Full Sail University located in Winter Park, Florida. With a runtime of just over five minutes, this film was released onto YouTube in September of 2017. Since then, it has already been viewed over fifty thousand rimes. The Grey is set during the dark times in the Star Wars timeline, during the height of the Empires power, when Vader and the Emperor ruled the galaxy. This is also about the same time period of A New Hope and reminiscent of that movie, set on the planet of Florrum.
Just like almost any street in Philadelphia will have its own corner bar, these remote planets always have a cantina where travellers, pirates, smugglers, and the rest of the ‘wretched hive of scum and villainy’ can get a drink. Sitting in a dark corner of the cantina, in robes just as dark, is a man attempting, it seems, to mind his own business.This man is a Grey Jedi, neither Light Side or Dark Side subservient.
The Grey Jedi were first introduced into the Star Wars galaxy with Timothy Zahn’s 1991 Thrawn Trilogy of books that have now become Star Wars Legends. Since the Grey Jedi do not belong to either the Jedi Order or the Sith it is believed that this gives them balance. However, if you were to ask a Jedi (and there are not a lot of them left at this point in the timeline!), I am sure that they would say that this instead makes them corruptible.
This Grey Jedi is special, however, because the Empire is looking to recruit him, and they are willing to use force if necessary. Because this is a short fan film it is going to be hard to avoid spoilers while I talk about it. So please, if you want to avoid them visit The Grey and watch the film before reading on, or stop here! Better yet, watch it now before continuing.
The Grey does not start the same way as the traditional Star Wars movie or even as many Star Wars fan films do. There is no opening scroll, or the traditional Star Wars music, this makes it feel like it is a Star Wars Story like Rogue One. For a student film this was a very well done production.
Full Sail University offers associates, bachelors, and masters degrees in a wide range of areas, they focus mainly on entertainment, arts, and technology, all of which are present in some form in this film. Fan films like The Grey are often made as final projects, this is because the characters, stories, and worlds have already been created. We don’t know what grade these young filmmakers got for The Grey, but judging by the quality of the film I would have given it top marks!
I really enjoyed this fan film, it was different enough from the Star Wars movies to stand alone, but at the same time you know what you are watching and no time needs to be wasted in character development (this can also be a flaw, more on that later). The graphics, in the opening shots are just okay, as were the sets themselves. But this was more than made up for with great costumes and a really enjoyable story.
I do not know if anyone from the 501st costuming club was involved, but from the look of the Stormtroopers and Darth Vader costumes I would say that they were. There are a few things that still need further explanation, such as the whole Grey Jedi thing, this was really only explained in the YouTube synopsis, not in the film. However, the actor Michael Olavson plays the part perfectly, and the action and fighting scenes are very well done with great lightsaber work.
This film left me wanting more, however, enough was left to the imagination to always wonder what would happen, and this is a great way to end a film if you are possibly planning on doing a sequel. Again, this is a great fan film, and just like my last review, this one also gets Fan Film Boy Rob’s thumbs up!
Robert is one of the hosts on Fan Film Boyz Podcast, a Podcast that discusses, reviews and helps promote fan films! For in-depth discussion and interviews with directors, writers, actors, and actresses, keep your eyes peeled for future columns and check out their show.