A Word from Darel Finley
Director of "MATRIX JEDI"
This project has its roots in May of 1999, right around the time The Matrix was hitting theaters. Jim Skipper and I -- then sharing an office at Enron -- had watched the 12-fps, low-resolution Matrix preview many times, and decided that we would create our own version of that preview, but with ourselves inserted into the footage. The result would look exactly like the Matrix preview, but as it would have appeared if Jim, I, and three other spouses and friends had played all the parts.
We shot much of the footage in Jim's apartment one day, with a Sony Digital8 camcorder, and imported the DV data via FireWire into my trusty blue-and-white G3 Mac, but then the project collapsed badly when it turned out that we were way overconfident in our estimation of our ability to magically composite ourselves into anything.
But a silver lining shone through: On the day we shot, we also happened to shoot several seconds of Jim's stepson Henry waving a plastic pole around as if it was a lightsaber. From that was born a 7-second clip, "Henry and His New Toy", which was soon expanded into a full-blown lightsaber rotoscoping tutorial (now featured on TFN). Then Jim said, "What if we made our own original fan film, with trench coats and lightsabers?"
I thought it sounded silly but fun, so I expressed some interest in the idea. Jim's imagination quickly produced a full-blown script that wasn't so silly as I had anticipated. The script contained numerous effects which I really didn't think we would be able to produce, but Jim kept saying we could do it, and inspired by his confidence I generally found a way. The only effect we wound up dropping was a scene where I jump high in the air, tucked and spinning, and kick Jim in the head on the way down. And we might have even done that, if we had found a lazy-susan bearing in time, but no hardware store carried them. (We have one now; catalog-ordered).
We filmed (videotaped) in our spare time throughout late winter and spring of 2000. As with any diverse project, some things turned out to be surprisingly easy, while others caused major unforeseen headaches. Some acting and haircut problems had to go unfixed due to our shared anxiety that the project would never get done. Special thanks go to the Hyatt security guard who said hi and knew we were harmless, to my parents for letting me see Star Wars numerous times when I was a kid, to the Wachowskis and George Lucas for directing the major motion pictures that inspire rookies like us to make fan films like this, and to my girlfriend Shawn for patiently putting up with all the time we spent on the project. (Pictured above: When we finished the movie, she sent congratulatory flowers to my office! :D Too sweet.)
Director, Matrix Jedi