[ How have fans reacted to the film? ] ^ For the most part I’ve gotten the reaction I wanted. People laugh in all the right places, which is all I could ever ask for. People come up to me afterwards and tell me things like, “Wow, that really hit home. That could have been me in the movie!” People haven’t emailed me or approached me with negative reactions, but I’m sure they’re out there. I mean if I hated something, I don’t think I would go to the filmmaker and say it to his or her face! I’m also sure there are some indifferent reactions as well. But so far, I think I’ve gotten a better response than George has overall for Episode I! And I spent about a ten-thousandth of what he did!
[ There must have been hundreds of hours of footage, what are some of the scenes you had to cut? ] ^ Not hundreds. Under a hundred actually. I’ve had to cut a couple of interviews with people. I couldn’t really find a place to fit them in. There was obviously a lot more going on in the store when the toys went on sale, but I cut it down to about two minutes. A lot of it was just people with armloads of toys and stuff like that, so it would have been pretty redundant to put it in the film. There also was a second prequel panel at DragonCon that I completely cut out. It was a good panel, but I thought the first one worked better. I thought about possibly intercutting the two, but they were in two different locations with slightly different lineups. It would have been confusing and kind of jarring more than anything. Of course there was more mud and rain to be seen at the Star Wars Celebration. There was also a shot of Harry Knowles, Lou (T’bone) Tambone, John Benson from JediNet and a few other people just hanging out and shooting the s**t in the hallways at DragonCon that didn’t make it in. I initially had it in but it upset the flow and nothing monumental was said. I also did a goofy segment where I infiltrated a Star Trek party at one of the cons. People were dressed as Klingons and were drinking Romulan Ale. I thought it would be funny as a kind of “Infiltrating the Enemy” kind of thing, but it just added unnecessary fat to the running time. I also spent a lot more time shooting the New York City line than the final footage would have you believe. I had to cut a lot of interviews from that.
[ What do you think George Lucas’ reaction would be to the film? Have you had any contact with LucasFilm or ILM? ] ^ I think George would like it. I think it’s very fair and I really don’t violate his copyright. I doubt that he’s ever going to have the time to see it, but I think he’d get a pretty good laugh at it, especially the line about “Howard the Duck.” He’s generally a good sport about that. This documentary is about the people who’ve helped make him a very rich man over the years so he’d better appreciate it, damn it! I’ve had some contact with Lucasfilm. Steve Sansweet has a copy (he actually requested it!) and he’s watched most of it and gave me some pretty favorable feedback. As for ILM, I met Terrence Masson at a party at Imaginecon. He actually used to work for ILM. He worked on The Phantom Menace. I gave him a copy. He said he’d show it around to his friends at ILM. So, Lucasfilm has been exposed to the documentary to some extent. But I really don’t want to hold my breath about Lucas himself ever seeing it.
[ Did you wait in line as well? ] ^ Of course! I mean, I didn’t do the six-week thing, but all the footage you see from New Brunswick, NJ was from my own experiences camping out to buy tickets. I actually slept on a sidewalk. I’m just really glad I didn’t get myself on camera because I looked like total s**t by the time tickets went on sale. It was like one big party. It was a lot of fun. People brought beer and we did food runs. We all became familiar with each other and we all knew each other’s places in line. So if someone got out of line for a few minutes, there was no problem about getting back in. Which reminds me of a story. A couple hours into the campout, my camera started eating tapes. I thought, “I’m f****d now!” Until I remembered that I had borrowed my parents’ camera, the same model as mine, a couple weeks earlier to dub some footage onto another tape. I hadn’t given it back so I raced home, which was 10 minutes away, and picked up their camera to continue shooting. And I was able to do that without a problem and without forfeiting my spot in line.
[ What’s your goal with this feature? ] ^ It sounds corny, but I guess I just want as many people as possible to see it. If I don’t make any money off it, fine. I just want to have an audience. I hope it opens some doors for me since I didn’t go to film school. I always thought I’d have an uphill battle to fight because of that. ^ One day, years from now, I’d like to meet someone I’d never met before and who don’t know who I am, go to their house and find a copy of the movie in their video library. That’s success as far as I’m concerned. But of course, a distribution deal wouldn’t hurt!
[ How do you intend to market and sell it? Aren’t there legal issues with LucasFilm? ] ^ I’ve been trying to move some copies at Buyindies.com and at amazon.com. People can also send a check for $25 to my PO Box, which is Jeff Cioletti, PMB 182, 409 Washington St., Hoboken, NJ 07030-4805. They can also visit my web site and email me for other instructions, as well as to find out where my screenings will be. I always bring a bunch of copies with me to screenings Fad Productions. I don’t think there are legal issues because it’s more like a feature-length news report. I was careful not to use John Williams’s score or any footage from the films without permission. So, legally I’m pretty safe. (And, incidentally, before I sent Sansweet a free copy, he offered to purchase one.)
[ Tell me what you’re working on right now, a waiting for Episode II documentary? ] ^ I’m in the process of developing a non-Star Wars-related documentary called Grimm Details. It’s kind of a character study that I’ll be shooting later this fall. I’m also trying to get something done with a screenplay I wrote a few years ago called “Life, Liberty…” It kind of took a backseat to the documentary for a few years. I’m also thinking of doing a follow-up to Millennium’s End, but not a “Waiting for Episode II” thing. It would be kind of redundant to do that, especially since the anticipation’s not the same. You’re talking three years versus sixteen years of anticipation. It’s just not going to be the same, even if Episode II turns out to be an infinitely better movie. I would like to do something that focuses on a handful of the people featured in Millennium’s End and how Episode I impacted them, changed their perspective and how they view Star Wars. I mean, a lot of people hated it or were at least very disappointed. They’ve had over a year to let it sink in and I kind of want to get their thoughts on the big reality check that was The Phantom Menace. It probably won’t be feature length. Or it might, who knows. I’ve already started shooting follow-up interviews, in the event that I want to make it into something.
[ You have shown the film at cons, how is that going? ] ^ It’s going really well, for the most part. So far, my best turnout has been at the San Diego Comic Con in July. About 300 people attended the screening. Generally, my audiences at cons range from about 50 to 200, depending on the size of the room and how well it’s promoted, and what events it’s scheduled against. The San Diego people did a kickass job promoting it and it paid off-especially when you consider that Bryan Singer was right next door giving a presentation at the same time as my screening. And that was the week that X-Men was number one at the box office after a $57 million opening weekend! The San Diego people were incredibly on the ball and professional. Not all of the cons were like that. I like doing the cons because I’m taking it right to the target audience. I wanted to do that before I went to film festivals. I had to make sure it worked at cons before I got laughed out of festivals. It was my first film so I had no idea what reaction to expect.
[ You are self-distributing the movie on video, will you ever make your money back? Do you recommend self-distribution? ] ^ I do recommend self-distribution if you’re not out to make any money. You need serious marketing dollars to make money. If you make a $100,000-$500,000 film, you’d better put a lot of that money aside for marketing because you’ll never make it back. In that case, self-distribution might not be the best approach. I’d love for a small distributor to pick my film up, but if it doesn’t happen, fine. It didn’t put me in major debt to make it. Finishing it was payback enough. Getting people to buy it and see it has been a perk! ^ Right now I haven’t been tabulating whether I’m going to make my money back. All I really care about at this point is being able to pay the duplication service I use and defray some of my traveling expenses to exhibit it at cons and possibly festivals. I’d love to make money off of it, don’t get me wrong. But I’m kind of enjoying screening it for decent-sized audiences who are very enthusiastic about it and give me some positive feedback. The reactions I’ve gotten tell me that the effort wasn’t all in vain. I do have to be prepared though. The more people see, the more potential there is for a few negative reviews. I have to kind of expect that. It’s not for everyone.
[ C’mon, be honest with me for a sec, Episode I sucked. ] ^ As for the criticisms, I would say this: There are a lot of people out there who are so attached to the original trilogy that they refused to accept the new trilogy. And it’s obvious how they kind of ended up feeling about Episode I as well. It seems that the accepted notion is that Empire was the best film ever made, Jedi was kind of lame and A New Hope is a great film, but not as great as Empire. But the thing that kind of gets me is that people who saw Jedi way back in ’83 thought it was the best film ever. As they grew up they started to dislike it. It’s all about perspective. I tried to present those perspectives. ^ I just think it’s been such an incredible experience for me making, marketing and screening the documentary. When I started it I didn’t know what to expect. I never thought I’d have any audience for it, but the audiences I have had have been amazing. It’s well beyond my expectations and for that I am so glad I followed through on my idea. That’s what filmmaking is all about. We all have ideas. ^ The self-distribution approach involves not only my efforts but the efforts of local promoters, fan clubs and venues (bars, cafes, arts theaters) to bring the film to their cities. ^ Those who’d like to host a screening can contact me via email at [ email@example.com ] or by accessing my Web site at Fad Productions. I’m willing to travel anywhere to bring [ Millennium’s End: The Fandom Menace ] to audiences.
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