“Star Wars” and John Hughes… if you were born in the 70′s or early 80′s, then these two things probably mean a lot to you on their own, but what would happen if you combined the two into an epic 40 minute fan-film. Well that’s exactly what the guys behind “Hughes the Force” wanted to find out. Ironically enough J.C. Reifenberg, the producer, writer and director of the film, was born and raised in John Hughes hometown of Northbrook, IL (funny enough, he actually lived a couple blocks from the “Save Ferris” water tower). J.C. has always had a passion for all things Star Wars so it’s only fitting that after honing his broadcasting skills in high school and college, that he would create something so near and dear to his heart.
I’m a fan of “Star Wars” and a fan of John Hughes, but I don’t take it to the extreme like some people do. When I was in high school I recall two guys coming to school wearing Star Wars outfits in honor of the release of “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace”. They wandered around school that day extremely proud of their homemade wardrobe and excitedly told me about how they were going to the Chicago premiere of the movie that night. I liked “Star Wars” and movies, so I thought it was extremely cool that they were going to the premiere. I also recall one of them mentioning that the tickets cost them upwards of $1000, or something crazy like that. I remember telling them that was ridiculous and their response was that they didn’t drink or smoke at all while in high school (they were seniors I was a junior) so all that money they saved by not drinking or smoking was put towards the premiere. Now while I don’t think I spent a thousand dollars on liquor while I was in high school, I can’t fault them for spending their hard earned money on something they loved.
Shortly after the premiere of the movie they came back to school and told me that while they were at the premiere, which I believe was a big, classy, event that they were supposed to wear a suit to, they met Rosie O’Donnell while they were crossing the street dressed up in the same Star Wars costumes they had worn to school. She was so impressed that she invited them on to her show to partake in a trivia contest against her limo driver where they tied him by getting all of the questions right, however if you watch the video you’ll see that the limo driver actually flubbed one of the answers. Shortly after going on that show, I believe, one of the guys actually went onto MTV’s TRL and competed in another trivia contest for a chance to win a trip to the Skywalker Ranch… he won.
After high school I kept in touch with both of these guys for the summer, we all played baseball together, but once they went off to college that was the last I would see of them… or so I thought. The magic of Facebook reconnected me with the big TRL trivia winner and it was there that I discovered he was working on a new project… “Hughes the Force”. That same kid that dressed up in high school, saved all his money to go to the premiere, defeated Rosie O’Donnell’s limo driver in trivia and won his way into the Skywalker Ranch was now turning his love of “Star Wars” and John Hughes into the ultimate fan-film. And he brought some friends along for the ride.
Now that you have an idea of J.C.’s love of “Star Wars” lets talk about this wonderful mash-up of John Hughes and “Star Wars”. The movie follows friends, and fellow “Star Wars” geeks, Simon and Henry as they try to survive the remaining days of high school, the culmination of which is an epic end-of-the-year party thrown by one of the most popular guys in school. The only catch is, in order to gain entry to the party they must bring a girl with them. Being the social awkward pair that they are, the task seems impossible until a banner ad for “Weird Science” appears on their computer screen. With Slave Leia figure in hand and Kelly LeBrock on their mind, they use their love of science-fiction to create the perfect woman. But the journey doesn’t end there. Armed with real blasters and real light sabers, not to mention “the force”, they set out to rid the world of evil… or at least take the popular kids down a notch.
The film itself runs just short of 40 minutes and is a blast from beginning to end. J.C. and crew are true fans of the movies they are paying homage to and it shows. It also helps that most of them are professional film makers, editors, directors, etc., so the quality of the flick shows. They even managed to get a killer cameo by Mr. Kevin Smith himself, which is awesome in itself, but they also just announced that the film will be coming to Smith’s S.I.T. YouTube (SModcast Internet Television) for free viewing on May 25th. You will also be able to download the movie for free starting that day as well from their website.
It’s amazing to me how technology these days has allowed so many aspiring filmmakers to take it upon themselves to go out and create something without the need of a big studio or a lot of money. This film is proof that as long as you’re passionate about something and have the drive to actually follow through, you can succeed. I’ve actually had a desire to put together some sort of short film, etc., and have even gone so far as to write scripts and short stories with the idea that I would eventually film some of these things… “Hughes the Force” has given me a new hope that as long as the passion and will to follow through is there, then all I have to do is find a group of friends and a camera and get to shooting. I just hope Andy Margolis (who I grew up with since I was probably 5 years old, and also did the sound for “Hughes the Force”) will be willing to score my flick whenever I get around to filming it.
Great job guys, can’t wait to see what else you’ve got for us in the future.
And just for fun, here’s the videos of J.C. and his buddy Neil on the Rosie O’Donnell Show as well as J.C. on TRL.