The following guest article was sent in by Mark Edlitz, director/producer of Jedi Junkies:
My friends and I made a movie about extreme Star Wars fans called JEDI JUNKIES. The film is 75 minutes long and took 4 years to make. Doing a little simple math (and using an online calculator) that means that it took an average of 19.4 days for each minute of screen time. Given that glacially slow work pace people ask me, “Why did you make JEDI JUNKIES?” That’s an easy answer: It was a labor of love.
I’ve been an avid Star Wars fans since 1977 when my Grandma Jean reluctantly to me to see the film in a theater in Riverdale, NY. Despite the fact that much of the subject matter was way above my 6 year old head, I was immediately and forever hooked on Star Wars. From that moment on, I joined the ranks of people who continuously talked and thought about Star Wars all the time.
When Hasbro released a new line of Star Wars toys in the Nineties I caught collecting fever. I bought at least one of each character. Even when the figures bore no resemblance to their onscreen counterparts I purchased the figures regardless. This means I own a set of Luke, Han and Darth figures that look like they are are on steroids. I visited Toys R Us on a weekly, sometimes daily basis, waiting for the next set of figures to hit the pegs. It’s not that I wanted each figure. Want had nothing to do with it. It was about need. I felt as if I needed each one. In short, I had a mini problem. I confess all this to indicate I’ve been just as “bad” as many of the collectors depicted in JEDI JUNKIES.
During this time of avid collecting, I still managed to be a fully functioning member of society. I wrote and directed an indie film called THE EDEN MYTH, which starred Justin Kirk from the Showtime series “Weeds”. I also met a wonderful woman (who married me despite my Star Wars obsession) and we now have two equally wonderful children (who have inherited that obsession. I guess fandom is a recessive gene).
But I missed filmmaking and knew that it was time to make another movie. My second movie would be the opposite of THE EDEN MYTH. For starters, it would be designed to appeal to a broader audience. I wouldn’t need a particularly large crew to make it; I could shoot it with my friends. Besides the practical considerations, I knew I also wanted to challenge my self creatively and make a genre that I hadn’t tackled before — so I decided to make a documentary. I knew that in order to sustain the work over the long period it would take to complete the film that it would be have to be about a subject that I knew a lot about and was fiercely passionate about. Given that the subject matter was fairly easy to deduce: Star Wars fans.
Star Wars fans are an interesting and sometimes extreme group. One of them was a father of three kids who lives in a small apartment in Queens. He has so many Star Wars toys and is so pressed for space that he had to make a decision between keeping his bed or keeping his action figured. Needless to say, his Star Wars toys are well cared for and his bed was banished to the curb.
In the making of the film I discovered that while some of their behavior was indeed overboard that the men and women who love Star Wars were so sincere, open-minded and positive that my movie had to be about celebrating them.
The people we profile in JEDI JUNKIES take their love of Star Wars and create something new and different with it. So, filmmakers who are Star Wars fans make their own fan films. Musicians who are fans make their own Star Wars inspired music. And that’s just the tip of the light saber-shaped-iceberg.
Take Candy Keane for example. Candy is a costume designer who makes and sells clothes that are right out of the Star Wars galaxy. Amira Sa’id is a belly dancer who dresses up in Leai’s metal bikini when she dances. Amy Brown is a burlesque dancer who performs a Star Wars inspired routine.
There’s also Bob Iannocone who builds light sabers from scratch. His creations take months to fabricate and are built to the specifications and tastes of the individual who will eventually brandish them.
There’s also Flynn and the NY Jedi, a group of light saber wielding enthusiasts who meet several times a week to practice their mad-Jedi skills.
I should also mention Dennis Ward, the dreamer, who actually built a life size Millennium Falcon in his own backyard in the course of making his own Star Wars inspired fan film.
All of the above fans spend hours and hours becoming experts in their own fields. They all devote much of their free time to expressing themselves through the Star Wars universe. And they all do what they do, for the same reason why I made a movie about them — love.
My movie is not really about a fans obsession with someone else’s creation. It’s really about the fan’s love for their own artistic expressions. It’s their passion that kept me interested in their stories during the 4 years it took to make JEDI JUNKIES.
Mark Edlitz is the director/producer of a film about extreme Star Wars fans called JEDI JUNKIES. More information about the film and the trailer can be found at JediJunkies.com. The film is available for rental and purchase at iTunes and Amazon