We interviewed James Eimmerman, winner of the Best Fan Representation Award, we discussed his innovative ideas and the production process of his exciting film. Mr. Eimmerman has been proud to also introduce his daughter into the film.
Most Star Wars FanFilms adapted stories from the films and novels, but you took a completely different direction. Can you explain this creative direction?
Force-Full Imagination is primarily a story about the wondrous time of childhood when your house is a home and your home is the world. For myself, and now thirty years later for my daughter as well, our primary catalyst and inspiration to imagine comes from the mythology of Star Wars. The toys and imaginary world in the film could have come from numerous other franchises like Marvel or G.I. Joe, but ultimately the film is a lighthearted B-Movie that serves as a love letter to the world that Lucas built.While I could have done a Fan Film taking place within the Star Wars universe, I felt that creating an imaginary world within childhood fandom for Star Wars itself was a story that deserved to be told, especially for those fans who go as far back as the Kenner Star Wars years and remember those times as epic in and of themselves for the hours of play they provided.
Where did you find these impressive action figures? Are they your collection?
The majority of the toys in the film are from Hasbro’s The Clone Wars Toy line done in the Clone Wars animated style. They are part of my daughter Michelle’s collection. Ironically, we tried to include a “paradox” of styles in the climax of the film with Darth Vader’s figure sculpted in the “realistic” style, yet interacting with Obi-Wan and the Clones from the Clone Wars style/era. The cool thing is in this imaginary world you can have a young Obi-wan interact with Darth Vader with the clones protecting their Jedi General Kenobi!
The special effects were great in Force-Full Imagination, especially with the cinematography. May I ask what equipment you used to produce these amazing shots?
The film was shot on the Red One Camera using Zeiss Master Prime Lenses. This equipment was made possible to use because of their availability at Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television. Other items, such as the J.L. Fischer Dolly and Jib Arm were rented out for the shoot. Each shot was storyboarded in advance. However, you still need a talented eye behind the camera which DP Arden Tse artfully provided. To be brief and in very broad strokes, the visual effects were done by a very talented team of people each covering different areas of VFX. While one person was responsible for lightsabers, flares and glows, another was responsible for texturing, rotoscoping and green screen work with the toys. I am very grateful for everyone’s work and I believe many people fail to realize the amount of time it takes working with key frames and so on to make an effect not only look good, but also right for the cinematography and the tone of the film.
How was it like to work with children in your film production?
Michelle is actually my daughter, whom I was originally hesitant to cast because of some of the complexities involved with the shoot as well as her inexperience with acting. However, the majority of my classmates involved with the production pushed me to cast Michelle because they have been with her on my other film sets and seen her cameo a few times. My DP especially requested her. I think he thought a redhead would look more cinematic. The easy part was she took direction well and loved having so many people at the house. It also helped that she literally lived on set as it was shot in our apartment. The only difficulties were California’s strict rules regarding the presence of a studio teacher on set and the amount of time a minor could be in front of the camera. My wife and I also had a deeper insight into our daughter’s tolerance threshold, when she was done for the day, and when to switch to shooting B-roll. Hunter had a wealth of experience already as an actor so he was great to work with. He was a consummate professional and brought his own sense of youthful imagination to the set. It helped that Michelle and Hunter hit it off. In the end, the greatest hindrance was not working with and directing kids, it was the limit on time to work with them.
Is there more of Force-Full Imagination?
Force-Full Imagination Pt. 2 and Pt. 3 are already in the can and going through post-production. Part 2 will be coming out in the Summer of 2016 with Part 3 sometime in 2017. Expect the conflict between Michelle and her brother Chris to intensify within the embattled, imaginary world they engage in. There will also be some other fun paradoxes with the toys as the trilogy continues and concludes. Along with may twists and turns, Part 2 will definitely raise the stakes and Part 3 goes down a darker road!