Short of the Day
OR How to Build a Lightsaber
In the world of fan films, it feels to me like the ones dedicated to Star Wars are always cream of the crop when it comes to storytelling and visual appeal. Whether this is because of the many established but largely-unexplored realms of the source universe (especially when you throw in canonical fiction and the animated series), or because filmmakers who are Star Wars fans are naturally inclined to be geared towards VFX, practical or otherwise, is an argument best explored another time, so for the sake of moving on, just take me at my word: Star Wars fan films can get pretty cool.
Take as a case in point this following short from writer Eric Carrasco (Supergirl) and director Stephen Vitale called Hoshino and named for its lead character, Ko Hishino (played by Anna Akana, Ant-Man), a young, blind, female Jedi Master. While admittedly a lot of Star Wars fan films focus on the Jedi, most tend to do so with some grandiose display of highly-choreographed lightsaber dueling; Hoshino is a film of another sort. According to Vitale:
“We wanted to focus on the force – to do something cinematic and designed – to create an original character with her own journey – to make something that FEELS like Star Wars.”
So instead of being primarily action-driven, Hoshino is more like an introspective character study that features the final act of Jedi training: force-building one’s own lightsaber. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of thrills and great VFX in Hoshino – including a hand-built Mynock creature puppet – and the costumes, props, and even setting all feel authentic to the Star Wars universe. However the short’s the real strength is how it captures the ambiance of a canon film, how it taps into the mythology and reverence for warrior cultures that underlies everything about the franchise, and how Hoshino herself balances the bellicose with the contemplative, just like a Jedi should.
Furthermore, it’s great to see fan filmmakers embracing the same tactic of newer Star Wars films The Force Awakens and Rogue One by casting their warrior heroes as young women. Take seven minutes to check out Hoshino, then share it with all the Force Fiends in your life.
Bonus: Vitale was cool enough to send a link to this behind-the-scenes featurette that shows the making of Hoshino. This is especially interesting to anyone looking to shoot their own short.