In 2010, Star Wars Uncut redefined what a fan film could be with a crowd-sourced recreation of the original Star Wars. In 2013, the organizers of that project, with support from Lucasfilm, will involve fans on an even larger scale with the sequel: The Empire Strikes Back Uncut.
ESB Uncut follows the same formula as its predecessor -- fans around the world can go to StarWarsUncut.com and claim 15-second scenes from the original film, then recreate them in whatever way they see fit. But this time around, there are plans to make the sequel an even bigger, better experience than Star Wars Uncut.
Each 15-second scene can be recreated by more than one fan, and there's a reason for that. "There's going to be a director's cut, which is going to be something we put together," says Casey Pugh, creator and organizer of the Uncut series. "But at the same time, we're going to make it very easy to download all the other scenes yourself...you can pick and choose [to make your own cut]. And there will be an interactive version so you can always watch the film a different way." That means if you want to watch a version of ESB Uncut with as much fan-made animation as possible, you can. Or if you want to see all of the scenes you submitted, you can do that, too. It puts fans in the editing room and opens up all kinds of possibilities.
And there's another big difference between the original Uncut and the sequel: impressed by Star Wars Uncut, Lucasfilm is working with Pugh to support the new project, extend its reach, and get more fans involved. "The original Star Wars Uncut was one of the most impressive examples of fan creation that we've ever seen," says Ivan Askwith, Lucasfilm's Senior Director of Online. "And since our fans have been creating tremendous things for over 30 years, that's a major accomplishment."
That official support means that Lucasfilm is helping promote the project -- starting with an invitation that brought Pugh to Celebration VI in August 2012 to announce the project, and produce and debut a trailer on site. "At Lucasfilm, we believe that our fans are one of the most critical parts of the Star Wars universe," Askwith says. "This gave us a great chance to acknowledge that Star Wars isn't just our story, but in a sense, belongs to everyone. The Uncut projects give us a chance to put the spotlight back on the fans who keep Star Wars alive."
Star Wars fans have always been vital and active participants in the Star Wars saga, from Celebration cosplay to camping out for movie tickets. But the ingenuity and creativity on display in Star Wars Uncut was astounding. Some scenes were recreated using puppets or action figures, some with actors in handcrafted costumes, some with animation -- and Star Wars Uncut went on to receive much acclaim, ultimately winning the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media.
"Just bringing people together is really wonderful," says Pugh. "Uncut has enabled people to be extremely creative...I think it effects them in a really positive way."