The fan-created Web movie Star Wars Uncut may be coming to a theater near you.
Not so long ago, in a galaxy called Brooklyn, a 24-year-old computer programmer and Star Wars nut named Casey Pugh got an idea. You could say the Force was with him. What if he asked a bunch of Jedi-obsessed fanboys, bloggers, and backyard filmmakers from around the world to remake George Lucas' beloved 1977 masterpiece? Well, not exactly remake it, but reinterpret it as a low-budget, do-it-yourself crowdsourcing project.
A year and a half ago, Pugh set up a website where he dissected Lucas' 121-minute epic into 473 15-second segments, and invited volunteers to claim up to three of the mini-scenes and reshoot them any way they wanted. ''Within a week every single scene was claimed,'' says Pugh, now 26. After receiving close to 1,000 submissions in the first six months from as far afield as Germany, Japan, and Africa, Pugh stitched all of the snippets into a Frankenstein-monster mash-up called Star Wars Uncut. (You can see it at starwarsuncut.com.) The result is a giddy mosaic of crude and some not-so-crude animation, dads dressed as aluminum-foil droids, family dogs standing in for Chewbacca, and one Michael Bay-style orgy of explosions starring a badass C-3PO driving a stick-shift muscle car. The only common thread running through all of it is the palpable sense of shared love for Lucas' movie that Pugh's posse brought to the unusual challenge. In the months since the project was completed, Star Wars Uncut has snowballed into a viral Internet sensation. It even won an Emmy last year for achievement in interactive media, beating out the corporate-bankrolled websites for Dexter and Glee.
Pugh also learned that he has some unexpected fans. ''The Lucasfilm people flew me out and gave me a pat on the back,'' says Pugh, adding that he has no idea whether the Big Man himself has seen the homage. ''They said they wanted me to do The Empire Strikes Back Uncut next. And I was like, I have a full-time job. But if you guys want to give me some money...'' Pugh's not holding his breath. His modest goal is simply to get his lo-fi epic shown at film festivals and hopefully theatrically, with the proceeds going to charity. ''I'm not looking to milk this or profit from it,'' he says. ''It's a labor of love. I just want to get it out there.''