It's amazing, the filmmaking history you can find late at night while perusing the depths of cyberspace. I'm always on a search for early AZ indie film, looking for everything from forgotten gems to forgettable failures. For many filmmakers, and especially for early AZ indie filmmakers, everyone was keen on making a film, but not too keen on busting out a feature length film. One thing they all agreed on was how much they enjoyed getting together to make their own fan films. One of the more prominent and elaborate fan films to come out of Phoenix was the "Spirits Of The Force Trilogy" inspired by the Star Wars Trilogy of films. The ten-year anniversary of the Arizona-produced Spirits of the Force trilogy will culminate with a cast reunion followed by a screening at Phoenix Comicon on Saturday, June 7, in the Phoenix Convention Center. The reunion panel will begin at 1:30pm in Room North 225a, followed by a screening at 3:00pm in Room North 227ab including all three fan films: Spirits of the Force, Fool’s Errand, and Reflections of Evil.
The first chapter in this Star Wars fan film trilogy was released online in March 2004. Both sequels were filmed concurrently over June and July 2004 and later released years apart due to monetary and time constraints. As the films became available, they were screened repeatedly at Phoenix Comicon over several years. The creative team of Webb Pickersgill, Joel Cranson and actor Kevin Herrmann continued to make unique contributions to the Arizona filmmaking scene. They participated in numerous Beat-the-Clock challenges hosted by IFP Phoenix, winning first place in four separate competitions, in addition to receiving specialized awards for acting, directing, and cinematography. In 2010 they released the sci-fi web series PROBED:signals, which was partially inspired by the Phoenix Lights phenomenon. That series earned a Rocky Mountain Emmy® award for Kevin Herrmann’s performance and four additional nominations for the show, as well as clinching the Phoenix Comicon Filmmaker of the Year award for director Joel Cranson in 2010. Webb Pickersgill (Cinematographer/Editor) went on to receive the Arizona Filmmaker of the Year award at the 9th Annual Phoenix Film Festival in recognition of his talent and contributions to various creative projects in the Arizona filmmaking community.
Even if you're not a huge Star Wars fan, it is still fun to take a look at these early AZ indie films. The degree of production and amount of seriousness that went into these films is somewhat mystifying at times. These don't seem like spoofs or satire at all, although it is rather comical seeing Webb Pickersgill portraying the evil Jarec, and seeing most of the action taking place on the not-so-futuristic ASU campus. One decade after the first installment of the Spirits of the Force trilogy, the cast reunites at Phoenix Comicon to reflect on how filmmaking has changed since their first film project together, which propelled them to numerous artistic accomplishments and creative projects over the ensuing years. Take some time to relive the early days of AZ indie and meet the cast and crew of the "Spirits Of The Force Trilogy" at Phoenix Comicon 2014.