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TFN Interview With J.C. Reifenberg & Ruark Dreher

Posted By Mike on May 25, 2012

Rebelscum's Adam Lamping got the chance to catch up with the director and producer of Hughes the Force at the film's third-ever screening in Seattle back in January. In celebration of today's Hughes the Force release on Smodcast Internet Television, we now present Adam's interview to help get you excited for the film.

Hughes the Force:
An Interview with Director J.C. Reifenberg and Producer Ruark Dreher
by Adam Lamping

On January 28th, 2012, Hughes the Force screened for only the third time publicly at the Seattle's LTD. Art Gallery in conjunction with the gallery's all-Star Wars pop art exhibit. The creators of Hughes the Force were in attendance and took a few minutes to chat about the film.

AL: Where did the idea for the film originate?

JR: Initially, it was the Atom Film Operation Olivia contest. I really wanted to do a fan film since I saw Troops back in like 1998 or 1999 and when that contest hit and the prize was a $5,000 budget and Olivia Munn, I said what can we do to capitalize on Olivia Munn's fame and this budget that I have the opportunity to win, and they always say write what you know.

I grew up in John Hughes' hometown of Northbrook Illinois, and I'm just an incredible Star Wars fan, so it just kind of seemed like the perfect mash-up of things to do. Everybody loves John Hughes, everybody loves Star Wars, it's universal, and I finished top eight in the contest, but it was enough of an idea to keep me motivated and push through and get it done.

RD: And the editors there really endorsed it too and said it was a good thing, even though it didn't win. They were excited about the concept.

AL: How confident were you of getting the likes of James Arnold Taylor, Cat Taber, Tom Kane did a voice, Jimmy Mac did a voice, and we know a bit about Kevin Smith, but just tell us all about those celebrity cameos.

JR: The line "Great Kid, don't get cocky!" doesn't really apply to me. I walk into everything I do with the utmost confidence. I really believe in that power of positive thinking type-thing, and I really hadn't even thought about James, or Cat, when I was writing the script, but circumstances just put me in the same place at the same time as them and I went up to James Arnold Taylor and I introduced myself and I just said "Hey, I just love the way you do Obi-Wan, it's fantastic", and James being who he is said to me, "Oh, that's great, thank you very much, what do you do?", and I told him "Oh, I'm making this little independent Star Wars/John Hughes film", and he said "I love John Hughes! What's it about?" I told him the idea and he said "Well, send me the script", and so I sent it to him.

He got back to me and said "OK, what do you want me to do?", and I was like Oh, geez! What do I ask? Am I pushing too much if I ask him to be Obi-Wan? Is that allowed? Is that legal? So I said, "You know, we'd love for you to do the voice of the trailer, which he did, and if you wouldn't mind, and if I'm not pushing too far, I'd love for you to play Obi-Wan." He wrote back two days later and said "Yeah, I'd love to do it! Just let me make sure it's OK with Lucasfilm." Lucasfilm gave it the thumbs up and James said "What do you think about Cat Taber? Do you want her to get involved?", and I said "Absolutely!", so then Cat got involved and I go, this is in February, right before we started shooting, "I gotta write roles for Obi-Wan and Padme now!"

But it ended up working out great, because the way we had written the script before, wasn't quite as full, and we wouldn't have been able to pull it off the same way. The fact that Catherine was in the movie as Padme, allowed us the opportunity to shoot Kevin Smith as a hologram instead of having to get him on-set. If we had had to get him on-set, I don't know if it would have happened. So, everything happens for a reason and that was the reason.

Not only do we have Obi-Wan and Padme, in the flesh, as their Clone Wars characters...

RD: But also in their costumes for the first time on film.

JR: Catherine's involvement facilitated us getting Kevin Smith as well, so that was awesome. And she and James are just so good as those characters, even though Catherine's role is little, I kind of see it as she and Leia and Obi-Wan form a team, with Kevin Smith, to help these boys along, and so, they're all working together and hopefully that comes across in the movie.

AL: I think so...

RD: One of the other things that I've heard J.C. say over and over again in the last year is, "Your focus determines your reality..." and that's been kind of the mantra of the project throughout and it's true, we had kind of this idea going forward on this, getting the actors involved and get Kevin and we weren't sure how we were going to do it, but we ended up with them and we stayed on target and were able to pull it off.

AL: Fantastic. So the collectibles that were seen in the movie, now were they from any one person's collection, or were they from multiple sources?

JR: Those are almost all mine. That was shot in my bedroom. Some of the helmets, the blast shield helmets, were borrowed from 501st members, but we used two different lightsaber props. One of them was my Master Replicas build-your-own lightsaber, one of them was Ruark's Master Replicas lightsabers, because we had to use some with the hilt in, and some not, and the build-your-own lightsaber, I was able to have the Vader hilt, with the green blade. The reason we wanted the green blade is that it shows up much better on film and special effects; it's just a practical reason. But all the stuff that you see on the bookshelves, all of that is a small portion of my collection.

RD: I did throw one thing in the background that I wanted to, because I love the artwork and I really like Ralph McQuarrie's artwork, so I have his "Battle over Hoth" painting, which is the AT-AT with the flaming snowspeeder behind it, and I brought that down to Los Angeles and we put it behind Simon's desk in the bedroom while Henry is on the laptop and you see it in the background. That was my little McQuarrie nod I put in.

JR: And just on that note, the slave Leia action figure that they rip open is a custom card that I did, with a Power of the Force 2 slave Leia. And I think it was like two weeks after we shot that scene, that they announced the Revenge of the Jedi carded Leia. Probably had something to do with Kyle Newman's ranting and raving on the ForceCast...

RD: And we're like, well, we already did that!

AL: Exactly, too late. And the golden idol from Raiders (of the Lost Ark)? Whose is that?

JR: That's mine. I live in an old 1920's building, so they actually have a phone cutout in my wall, and when I moved into my apartment, I was like, "ah, the golden idol needs to go here!". I was going to get the cheap plastic bank version, and then I saw that Sideshow had the nice version, and I had just enough Sideshow points to get it for free, so I ordered it without a second thought and then when we were shooting the scene in the attic, which was actually my garage, when we had the smoke and the atmosphere, we were like "oh my God, this is like Raiders of the Lost Ark, this is so cool," so we ran up, grabbed my idol and kind of tucked it off in the corner.

AL: That was a nice scene and just the glow from the box when Henry's leaning over. I'll preface this, and forgive me if this comes across as patronizing or condescending or anything, it's not that way intended at all; but we've seen how fan films can be a great calling card for the directors, with the likes of Kevin Rubio and Joe Nussbaum getting their break in the movie industry as a result. Is that something that you set out to do with Hughes the Force, or would you just see it as the icing on the cake?

JR: I'd say it's the icing on the cake. Initially it was conceived of as a little five or eight minute fan film and honestly, just as we wrote, and as we brainstormed and came up with ideas, we just had too many to keep it at a five minute montage-heavy fan film, and again, I wasn't thinking of doing it the way it was.

Everybody knows what Kevin Rubio did with Troops. Everybody knows what George Lucas in Love did, so I mean, kind of as secondary, icing on the cake, it was at the back of my mind, hey if we really pull this off, a lot of people are going to be able to see it, but really it was, you know, for Star Wars fans to enjoy and I wanted to inspire people the way Kevin Rubio inspired me fifteen years ago when I saw Troops for the first time, and I was like "Oh my God! I can play in Star Wars, I can play within the canon, without having it have to be Episode VII."

So much has progressed since Troops, technology-wise and everything, just with cameras and the availability of resources, hopefully somebody can watch Hughes the Force and go "Hey, I can do better than that!", you know what I mean? And just, inspire people by healthy competition.

RD: But it was also a way to contribute to the fandom, and throw something out there and help be a part and add to it rather than, like J.C.'s said before, being a consumer of the fandom, being able to help put something back for everybody else.

AL: Fantastic. Well, you've definitely achieved that, most certainly. And then the last question is, how did you come to get the movie represented by Parker Publicity?

JR: Well, Parker Publicity represents James and Catherine, and so when James said he'd do it, and then Catherine jumped on board, Consetta from Parker Publicity reached out to us and said "hey, do you need some help?" and I was like "OK!" I really flew by the seat of my pants on a lot of this and was just guessing and checking and what Consetta has provided is like an amazing sounding board for ideas and she's really smart and she knows her stuff and so I can call her and say "What do you think about this?", and I kind of have a buffer between myself and the world and she says, "Well yeah, that's great, but did you think about it like this?" and I go, "No, I didn't, I'm gonna keep my mouth shut", or "Yeah I did, but I don't think it's a big deal." So really she's just, her experience, in terms of putting it out there and getting it into people's hands has been amazing.

AL: Great! Well thank you very much, that was all I had to ask you. That's awesome guys!

Click here to watch Hughes the Force now!

Related Stories

May 25, 2012   Hughes The Force: Watch For Free Online Today!
May 18, 2012   Weekly ForceCast: May 18, 2012
May 4, 2012   Hughes The Force: Free Online As Of May 25th!
January 9, 2012   Hughes The Force Screening In Seattle
October 2, 2011   Hughes The Force L.A. Premiere Report

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