What do you get when Star Wars fans become filmmakers? Crazy, creative stories brought to you from the galaxy far, far away, and A Blaster in the Right Hands: A Star Wars Story is a local fan film that stunned Supanova audiences across the Gold Coast, Melbourne and Sydney.
During the film’s stint at Supanova, we caught up with director and writer Richard de Carvalho.
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When did you first get into Star Wars?
A long time ago (haha). Star Wars was one of my earliest movie experiences. I was very young. I would have been seven or eight years old – a child of the ’80s. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the privilege of watching it on the big screen and having that life-changing experience. Instead, my ‘spiritual awakening’ happened through VHS with Return of the Jedi.
I watched that cassette so many times, I wore out the tape. It wasn’t until my older brother later said, “You know there are other Star Wars movies, right?” I was like, “Whaaaaaat!?!?” Despite growing up in a household where my brother had Star Wars figures and board games, it didn’t click that there was a whole complete galaxy out there. The Original Trilogy had me hooked ever since.
What intrigues you most about Star Wars?
I’ve always been captivated by the worlds and characters created by George Lucas. He’s an amazing visionary and storyteller. Cinematically speaking, there’s nothing quite like Star Wars. Star Trek is its own thing and it’s great sci-fi. But Star Wars is a boundless operatic fantasy with space wizards and cowboys.
On face value, Star Wars seems simple enough – a space fantasy about Good vs Evil filled with spaceships and fantastic creatures and aliens. But there’s so much more to it. There’s a rich tapestry of myth and legend that echoes many ‘earth’ histories and cultures.
George created a galaxy torn apart by civil war, with layered relatable characters amongst political drama and action, featuring criminal underworlds where illegal trade and slavery operated within the corrupt Galactic Empire. It’s escapism at its finest and most imaginative that works, as an allegory to our growing pains and troubling social and political times, while still being accessible for all ages. It’s a coming of age story spotlighting moral conflict, romance, family, friendship, darkness and hope.
Where did the inspiration for A Blaster in the Right Hands come from?
My favourite scene in Star Wars is when Greedo confronts Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina. That scene captured my attention and imagination for years. Han Solo was so cool under pressure. And that scene was very much the epitome of a ‘Space Western’. Where smugglers and bounty hunters worked for the right price, and a character’s motivation, morality, and ‘human’ condition would be in question.
I grew up watching a lot of westerns. My family loved them. We would watch everything from Clint Eastwood and Peckinpah to Sergio Leone. I grew up on a heavy dose of sci-fi movies, Saturday morning cartoons and comic books. All these things have shaped me in one way or another. So naturally, I got the idea when most fan fiction happens and that’s at high school with friends.
Six years ago, there was a fan film competition for Star Wars Celebration, and I wanted to make a Boba Fett story that I’ve had for over 15 years. I wrote a short story, that was this love letter to Star Wars and spaghetti westerns. Look, I love lightsabers as much as the next guy, But I’ve always been fascinated by the Bounty Hunters profiteering from a galactic war. Space desperadoes!
There was a kind of honour among thieves, but I wanted to see how far one would go to survive or just do what’s right. But from a logistical position, there was no way I could have made my original story in 2015. So I thought of making a prequel, focusing on original characters pursuing a valuable bounty. I had called my mate and writing partner, Erik Magnusson, and pitched him the whole concept and by the next day, Erik churned out a fantastic first draft. It would still be four years before we would be able to make the film. And then, Disney announced The Mandolorian, but that didn’t stop us. Instead, it made us feel that we were onto something.
What was the biggest challenge in creating this film?
Making a fan film meant that we wouldn’t be allowed to crowdfund, at least easily. And given its nature, this was going to be expensive to do correctly, especially for a Star Wars story. So the production needed to be completely self-funded with the vast majority of our cast and crew volunteering.
A lot needed to be carefully compromised due to the budget restraints, but even still, we would hit constant speed bumps in production. From finding the right location to shoot in, VFX timeframes, model and prop construction, to even some crew members needing to drop out due to personal or schedule complications.
But filmmaking is problem-solving. You quickly adapt and learn not to focus on the negative and find ways around obstacles. I have an amazing and supportive producer in Carol Jovicic, along with a fantastic crew that was able to pull themselves together at every step, even through the bushfires and a global pandemic of last year.
What was the best part of creating this story?
Definitely the day it dawned on us all that we were actually making a REAL Star Wars film. We were all on location and our amazing actors were in full costume and makeup, amongst authentic Stormtroopers and Imperial Officers, and Boba Fett.
It made me incredibly excited. I always said to the crew that we would treat this as if we were REALLY working on a Lucasfilm set. That it wasn’t just a fan film. And everyone has been so proud of it. Whatever happens in future, I can at least scratch ‘Make a Star Wars’ off my bucket list.
What are you doing next?
Oh, man! I’m currently hard at work developing so much at Lunacraft Productions. From two animated project series to what will hopefully be my first feature-length movie, which is a psychological horror thriller. But pending how well Blaster is received from the public and if we gain more of the support needed, I would absolutely love to finish what we started with this film, and make the intended sequel which has been my original idea with Boba Fett since its inception. Only time will tell. May the force be with us.
Head over to the Lunacraft Productions YouTube channel to subscribe for all their latest videos, plus check out the full length fan film below.