Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President: For those who haven't yet seen The Distant Echo: A Star Wars Fan Film, how would you describe it, and why do Star Wars fans need to check it out?
Tye Nelson: The Distant Echo: A Star Wars Fan Film is an homage to both the old and the new stories that have and are being told in the Star Wars universe. As a fan, my desire is that people WANT to check this film out, rather than NEEDING to. It falls in that category of a cool story that fits in both universes, so it doesn't have a necessity of - you HAVE to watch this to understand what's going on in either the new movies or the old books, but... we certainly have had some people say, I don't know who those characters are, but now I want to learn more about them.
BD: The Distant Echo is fairly unique in that its plot connects the current Star Wars film canon with the abandoned previous canon (now known as "Legends") that included the Star Wars EU (or Expanded Universe). Why was this element of the plot important to you and what were the challenges in doing so?
TN: The "Legends" aspect of the film is where it all started for us. As a long time fan of the Star Wars Universe, I had read everything post-Jedi from the Expanded Universe, and the previous story we told centered around Jaina Solo, daughter to Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo in the Expanded Universe. Now, with The Distant Echo, we wanted to bring the two universes together, symbolizing our love for Star Wars as a whole.
BD: It's mentioned in the description of The Distant Echo that it is intended for fans of both "Legends" and canon. As some may already know, when Disney purchased LucasFilm and made the decision to refer to the Star Wars EU as "Legends," they removed those stories from the official canon. Many fans took this action very harshly and personally. Unfortunately, the fandom has continued to be in a divided state since. From your perspective, why is it important for Star Wars fans to support one another, and what values from the franchise do you think could help guide us as fans through these vitriolic times?
TN: I believe this question goes beyond Star Wars. If you're a fan of Eckhart Tolle, you've heard the saying that, "The energy you put out is the energy you receive." I've seen this happen in my own life as well as others; it just makes sense. We as human beings should support one another, rather than tear anyone down. We may not all agree on the same things, but to crucify someone because they approach an idea differently than you do, in my experience, it's not a healthy way to live, for either party.
Finding a support for this in the Star Wars franchise is hard for me, because it's not why I love the films. For me, Star Wars is literally the battle of good against evil, and it's engaging to watch that struggle. These "heroes" aren't always doing the "right" thing. We love Han Solo because he's a scoundrel, because he's not a "good" guy, and we love him more when against his instincts he chooses to do what is right. It's our instinct to want to fight against something that has hurt us and protect ourselves from being hurt - this is Han Solo to a "T," but, in the end, if we end up tearing someone down in order for us to feel better about ourselves or our opinions, then everyone loses.
BD: Is there any correlation between The Distant Echo and the "lost" Clone Wars episode titled A Distant Echo, or are the similar titles a mere coincidence? Did you watch The Clone Wars?
TN: I'm a big fan of the animated series, both Clone Wars and Rebels; however, the only correlation between The Distant Echo and "A Distant Echo" is that I initially wanted to call our film A Distant Echo rather than The Distant Echo but doing research showed the Clone Wars lost episode, and I decided to use "The" instead.
BD: What do you love about Star Wars, and how did it inspire the creation of these fan films?
TN: I was initially paying homage to the Legends characters with our first film, Legacy of the Force, by adapting the final battle between Jacen and Jaina from Troy Denning's novel, Invincible. It was such an honor to get his blessing and compliments on our film and the Legends fan base support, as well. The Distant Echo actually came as a response to the negativity of the split you mentioned earlier - both sides of the fandom were in conflict. There was a lot of animosity being posted to our YouTube page toward the direction that Lucasfilm was going, and because we made a "Legends" fan film, it was assumed we were lumped in with that opinion. The Distant Echo is literally my opinion on the direction where the new movies have gone. It's a different story. That's all. Star Wars will always be a reminder of my childhood, an escape to a fantasy that let me dream - and if nothing else, dreams are meant to inspire.
BD: What can you tell us about the creative team (cast and crew) behind The Distant Echo?
TN: For the most part, we used two different crews/creative teams on each short. Both teams were extremely dedicated, putting in time, sweat, and love into projects that would literally only be appreciated by other fans. I made sure to acquire professional actors and crew to do the best we could on a limited budget, and I'm very happy with both films and how the films progressed from one to the next.
For the most part, the one consistent in our films is our Jaina Solo. Jaci Twiss, the actress who played Jaina, is phenomenal and is literally like a sister to me. Her excitement to step into Jaina’s shoes - rather, boots - makes me want to put another project together every time we meet up.
BD:. You've also been a part of a few other Star Wars fan films. Can you tell our readers a little about those ones, as well as some of the awards and accomplishments you've achieved with them?
TN: There's a few other fan films I've been a part of, one of which was the behind-the-scenes making of Legacy of the Force titled Journey of a Fan Film. While I was the producer behind the film, and it was about the making of Legacy, Alex Watson was the director and we were honored to bring home the "Best Non-Fiction" and "Audience Choice" Awards at the 2015 Star Wars Fan Film Awards.
Also, I was lucky to be cast in two other fan films that have a bit of notoriety, as well, both done by director Shane Felux. Star Wars: Revelations and Pitching Lucas. Blink and you'll miss me in Revelations. I had a day-player role as one of the Cor-Sec troopers, but Shane brought me back for a larger role in Pitching Lucas which also won two awards at a previous Star Wars Fan Film Awards. Pitching Lucas won for "Audience Choice" and "Director's Select." I'm very honored to have worked with Shane and would love to do so again in the future.
BD:. What has been your favorite Star Wars fan film to work on and why?
TN: That's hard. I've enjoyed all of the fan films I've worked on. Though, if I had to choose, The Distant Echo takes my heart, currently. I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in the film; with so many hats and how it's turned out, I'm very happy with the end results.
BD:. Given your knowledge of the franchise and fanbase, what are you expecting from Episode IX?
TN: I don't want to expect anything, and I don't want to put expectations of mine into anyone else's head. Thanks for asking, though.
BD:. At Fanbase Press, we're always interested in what our fellow creators are fans of. It doesn't have to be part of Geekdom or Star Wars necessarily. We just want to know what you've recently enjoyed that you'd want to share with our readers? So, what are you a fan of?
TN: I'm pretty much a fan of anything else high-quality sci-fi and fantasy. There's a huge list: Star Trek, Harry Potter, Battlestar Galactica, Blade Runner, Lord of the Rings, Game of Throne . I’m currently reading the Wheel of Time series. If there is anything that I'd like to currently see be made into something visual, I'd have to say I"d love to see a Wheel of Time series. I don't think it's practical to do a live-action series or set of films, but if say Netfilx or HBO picked up the rights and did an animated series, I'd have popcorn set aside for days.
BD: Finally, where can our readers find our more about you, The Distant Echo, and the other Star Wars fan films you've taken part in?
TN: Best place to find us is on our Facebook page.
That being said, if you click on our YouTube links via Facebook, it doesn't count your hits, so here is a link to The Distant Echo [on YouTube]. You'll be able click to Legacy from a link at the tale end of the credits there.