Mind Your Business: Star Wars by Students
Some of their student projects have also been commercial successes. "Art Asylum also has a line of blocky action figures called MiniMates," adds Jeff. "Originally we made a fan film of their Batman MiniMates, Batman: New Times. (www.DAVEschool.com/movies/batman/) We never had the rights from DC do anything but a fan film. But, the short was seen by Marvel Comics and they allowed us to make an X-Men MiniMates short as a school project. (www.DAVEschool.com/movies/xmen/) That DVD was packaged with four MiniMate X-Men characters and sold in retail stores."
"Dick Van Dyke uses the same software [<LightWave>] we do and he called Tech Support and asked a lot of questions," adds Jeff. "When we started the Batman project, someone at NewTek offered up Dick's participation. That was awesome, but we didn't think Dick Van Dyke would play Batman, but he would be perfect as Commissioner Gordon. Then we didn't want a movie that starred Nobody, Nobody and Dick Van Dyke."
Jeff continues, "So then we thought, who would be a great Batman? It didn't take a long time before we thought Adam West (the original 1960s live-action Batman actor). At the time we didn't realize that Mark Hamill had been doing the voice of the animated Joker for the past 10 years, so we were thrilled to ask him to reprise his role (and a few others on later productions). We rounded off our cast with Courtney Thorne-Smith from According to Jim as Catwoman."
The idea to do a 3-D Star Wars fan film came up when Jeff and Anne heard about Star Wars Celebration V coming to Orlando. There was a competition on Atom Films to make a Lucasfilm approved fan film. They also wanted to participate with a booth containing a 3-D projector at Star Wars Celebration. That allowed the school to showcase their latest stereoscopic work and generate more interest in the school.
Anne adds, "Over the last year we've added 3-D stereoscopic to our curriculum. We hired a stereographer, Daniel Smith, who has worked with Robert Rodriguez as an instructor and he co-directed our Star Wars: The Solo Adventures film with Jeff."
"In New Hope in the Cantina, Greedo was going to take Han back to Jabba because Han dropped Jabbas shipment. So, we wanted answer the question of what was in that shipment and the story behind it," says Smith, who also co-wrote the script with Jeff.
The students and the school should be very proud of their work. The DAVE School production won Best Animated Feature at Star Wars Celebration V.
"Of the 27 students who worked on the film, over 20 of them were hired after graduation and are already working in the industry. So that's the biggest sign of success we could ask for," concludes Smith.
Mark Simon is an award-winning animation director/producer. His animation is online at www.FunnyToons.tv. He is also the co-founder of www.SellYourTvConceptNow.com. He has pitched and landed over 25 deals for his own projects. He is currently turning the hit comic strips B.C. and Wizard of Id into animated properties.