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Interviews -
Face To Face With The Masters

Any citizen of the galaxy may be summoned to answer to the Jedi Council. Here you may read the transcripts of such sessions.

Cellblock 1138 - 1997-1999 - 2000 - 2002 - 2003+

Jeff Cioletti, creator of Millennium's End:
The Fandom Menace

April 2000, by Sherry Wilson

Part 1 of 2

Official documentary website: fadproductions.com/

I met Jeff Cioletti, creator of Millennium's End: The Fandom Menace at Imaginecon 2000. I had the special privilege of interviewing him for TFN and experiencing the excitement of the world premier of his documentary. Filming started in 1997 and you can characterize it as a series of flashbacks (flash-forwards) beginning on an unnamed road in Colorado for a fateful toy run on May 2, 1999 and culminating with the first showing of The Phantom Menace on May 19th.

He leads us through two years of speculation, bizarre rumors, cons and the Celebration as the anticipation escalates for the first Star Wars movie in 16 years. There was a great turnout for the premier and all I can say is it Rocked! You have to see it. Every Star Wars fan can identify with the people here and be ready to laugh because these people say and do what all of us probably did or wanted to do! By the way, Jeff is a great guy and I want to thank him for the interview and for letting me share in his labor of love. Sherry

TFN. Is this your first film?

J. Yes.

TFN. Do you have a film background?

J. Not really. I mostly have a journalism background. I have taken a couple of workshops here and there in basic filmmaking, but everything is pretty much self taught.

TFN. Did you use any kind of special equipment to film this?

J. Special equipment?

TFN. What did you film with?

J. I filmed on high eight video and basically it was a one-man band.

TFN. What was the hardest thing about doing this project?

J. Financing it. Basically doing everything. All aspects of the production. You know I had to be the producer. I had to be the director. I had to be editor. I had to be the promoter. I had to do everything and kind of spread myself too thin.

TFN. Did you have any help?

J. In the end I had T'Bone help me. He kind of sat in on the editing sessions with me and gave me some feedback on what worked and what didn't work and kind of helped along in those lines.

TFN. What did you find to be the easiest thing about the project?

J. Easiest thing about it was, oh, probably the interviews themselves I found to be pretty easy. People were willing to talk plus it was a more controlled environment. You set the tripod up and you know you get the shot that you want, the lighting that you want and it's not like doing an event where you're basically chasing things to try to get something in the shot where you're always moving around trying to make sure you get what you want. It's really hard to get the shot that you want.

TFN. You filmed at various conventions. Did you find the people to be cooperative?

J. Mostly yes they were. Actually a lot of them would give me press passes. I'd e-mail them asking them if I could get a press pass saying I'm doing this documentary and they would be yeah absolutely. DragonCon did that, but not the Celebration of course. Empire con did that and there were a couple of other ones that didn't make it into the final product that did it. But not the Celebration.

TFN. Will you try to make more films?

J. Oh yeah, but I don't know what yet so don't even ask me that. I'm still figuring it out. I really have to focus on promoting this one especially in the next several months. I'm going to have to be going to cons selling it.

TFN. Where else are you going to go?

J. I'll be at Dragon*Con. There'll be a screening there at the end of June. Anything after that I'm not sure about. I'm trying to get to a couple but basically finding out what the main ones are. I'd like to show it at as many as possible. It doesn't matter where.

TFN. Were you satisfied with the response you got last night?

J. Yeah I was. I was. Relative to the turnout at the con I thought it was great. It was a very under attended con because of the weekend it is and also partly because the main guests bailed and stuff like that. And it was very little draw. It was a first time effort. So it was kind of untested and they really didn't get the turnout they wanted. I think if they do this on the same weekend next year which won't be Easter they'll probably get a better turnout and as long as they book guests who will show up. I think personally they should have gotten people like Jeremy Bulloch and David Prowse and stuff like that cause they're really good about it and they don't usually screw people over. I mean Jeremy Bulloch is the nicest guy on the planet and I think it would have been very well attended. At least on the Star Wars part of it. If there had been that draw. If they had like a good core of even the Men Behind the Mask and people like that. I mean they didn 't have to shoot for the stars like Ray Park and have him bail. And even like Billy Dee Williams would have probably done it. I think they were kind of hanging on ok Ray Park was Darth Maul and he'll be a draw and as soon as I found out they were getting Darth Maul I knew he was going to cancel because he's notorious for it and aside from the Celebration last year I think he kept one engagement last year and that was one I didn't go to and ironically it was in New Jersey. It was like basically 10 minutes from where I live and I didn't go. But I guess it was because I had already seen him in Denver so I didn't feel the need to see him again. I mean I just knew it and I'm like if that's the only major Star Wars star they're banking on aside from Kevin J. Anderson really is the biggest SW related guest that they had. And he seldom cancels. He's really good about conventions. I see him along the convention circuit. I'm sure he'll be at Dragon*Con again and I'll see him there. I gave him a tape today cause he was in it and I'm hoping I'll get some feedback from him at DragonCon.

TFN. What about a sequel to this?

J. I don't know if there'll be a sequel cause I never wanted to do one cause the build up isn't the same. We're talking 16 years versus 3 years. It's not the same. However, I have been toying with the idea of going with a kind of a follow-up with a lot of the same people who were interviewed in the first one. Kind of following them through the next 2 movies. I don't know if it'll be 2 separate ones maybe just one that I'll finish in 5 years. I don't know but I think I could probably do one for each and just kind of make a trilogy almost like a saga on how their attitudes change over the course of those few years. And then finally after Episode III comes out it' s going to kind of be like what's going to happen now. There's no more Star Wars movie-wise anyway. I'm sure the expanded universe will live on but the expanded universe kind of needs a new movie or a prospect of a new movie. Cause you think about Heir to the Empire that came out in 1991 and that kind of resuscitated SW but you also knew that there were prequels coming at that point. I mean you didn't know when yet and you really didn't know when probably or a general idea until about 1994. But I think that's why because people were talking about SW again there was interest again and then on top of that the Special Edition which was the most brilliant marketing campaign ever basically was what the Special Edition was, was a marketing campaign for the prequels you know. I mean granted they made $140 million off of A New Hope in re-release and it was great but I'm wondering how it's going to survive without stuff. I mean who knows maybe George will change his mind but he's not getting any younger. He's going to be he'll be 61 by the time Episode III comes out. He's 56 or he's going to be 56. 61 is not old, not by a long shot. I mean people Ingmar Bergman is still making movies.

TFN. I think he said he wanted to do other stuff.

J. He wanted to do more non-Star Wars stuff. However,

TFN. Like Indiana Jones?

J. Yeah, there will be another Indiana Jones but I don't think there'll be any more than one because Harrison Ford is not young anymore. Harrison Ford is 57 or he's going to be 57 this year and by the time they have time to work on Indiana Jones he'll be 60. You know, I mean, granted I mean Sean Connery is 70 is still a leading man, action hero. I mean it's great. And so you know and he played Indy's father which is funny because I don't know if he'll be able to do it in Indy 4 because they're kind of starting to look about the same age now you know. I mean they're only like 12 or 13 years apart so it's not, so I really don't think.

TFN. Will you consider taking your film to film festivals?

J. Yes, yes I definitely will. I just don't know of any right now that are in the near future. I have to really do more research about it because there's always film festivals going on but there are some that are really small and others that are bigger but are harder to get into, more expensive to get into. The whole convention circuit thing is kind of it's almost like going directly to the market to the people I want to reach. I'm a filmmaker and I like to consider myself a serious one. And an independent filmmaker and I always will be but film festivals can be kind of stuffy and they tend to look down on filmmakers. But I mean I did this by fans, for fans and about fans and I was really kind of encouraged by the response I got last night. People laughed in all the right places and even in some places where I didn't think were that funny but people chuckled anyway. And it wasn't like they were laughing at it, it wasn't like intentional laughter I mean it was just stuff that I just threw in there to kind of be cute but didn't think it would get any laughs but people did. I think at least I think I connected with that market. I mean granted this is only a small group but I think it's pretty indicative of like fans as a whole, how they' re going to react. So I don't think anybody was offended and that was the one thing I was worried about because you know a movie like Trekkies was kind of offensive to Star Trek fans but see the thing is Star Trek fans are a little more untouchable in that respect because they kind of have been ridiculed a lot so they're kind of used to it so they kind of relish it almost.

TFN. But it wasn't done in a bad way.

J. No it wasn't but Star Wars fans can be kind of sensitive about stuff like that. It's because Star Wars fans, myself included, we try to kind of distance ourselves from Star Trek fans. We try to present a completely different image than that. Nobody goes out and tries to learn Huttese because basically the language really doesn't exist. I don't think there's any set language because if you listen to some of it it's a lot of it is kind of repeated but the same different stuff but nobody really notices. But Klingon is like people go out and actually learn a language. They translate the Bible into it. I don't think anyone would ever go that far with Star Wars. I think it is just a different kind of fans. Star Wars fans aren't necessarily Sci-Fi fans. There are Sci-fi fans that like Star Wars but a good number of the diehard Star Wars fans don't consider themselves sci-fi fans. And there are very few like people that are really passionate about Star Wars and people that are really passionate about Star Trek. It's almost like you can't have both. I don't see that there's anything wrong that you can't like both. I personally don't like Star Trek. So I'm basically like a stereotypical fan I guess. But, a couple of the movies were good but I found the series kind of boring. But I don't think there's like diehard Star Wars fans that are also diehard Star Trek fans. That doesn't happen. There's a rivalry.

TFN. Are you going to make your video available on the Internet?

J. Yeah. I mean it won't be shown on the Internet it will be sold on the Internet. I mean no one is going to want to sit and download a 96-minute movie. People do, but I don't think I'm going to reach a big enough number of people that way because people's computers have crashed and people don't have the patience. They have other things to do and a 96-minute film would take the entire day to download and who has that kind of time. Not to mention I don't want people bootlegging it. That's another thing. It can happen now by selling on video and I know it probably will to some extent. But it is copyright infringement just so people know. Copyright infringement you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I'm trying to protect my copyright that's all I'm trying to do.

TFN. Keith (Moisture Farm Co-Op) wanted to know whom you're favorite Star Wars character is and which one is your favorite film.

J. It changes. Sometimes it's Yoda and other times it's Darth Maul which is kind of an easy obvious answer. I mean Darth Maul I guess it's probably more Ray Park's performance of Darth Maul because that was a kick ass scene that lightsaber scene redeemed all the flaws that were in TPM. It was so kick ass you can't even credit Lucas for it I mean it was Nick Dillard that really directed that scene. To some extent Ray Park directed the scene in the sense that he's a martial arts expert and swordmaster. So I mean kind of he kne2w what he was doing. So Lucas was right in including it that's for sure. Another obvious one would be Boba Fett but it's not so much because of the character that he was I just think he looks cool. I like as an image, I mean I have a Boba Fett pez dispenser and I think it's really cool. He looks cool; it's a cool costume. But as far as the character I just think the character's too limited to be my favorite character and I'm not talking about his role in the expanded universe either. I'm talking about the movie -- he was very limited. I think the only SW character that had fewer lines than he did was Darth Maul but Darth Maul had more screen time; but as a speaking character that is.

TFN. Which was your favorite movie.

J. Empire Strikes Back. I know it's an obvious answer. But it's a strong movie. It's well directed. Dramatically it's more solid than the other ones. It has a down ending and that was good. It kind of basically made people freak out for 3 years, especially the way it left you hanging with "I 'm your father" -- what was that all about. Han Solo was frozen so was the audience for 3 years basically. That's kind of what happened and I thought that was great. Just visually, I mean, the whole Hoth scene, the asteroid scene and Cloud City itself was just such an exciting idea. And I like dark movies and that's why I'm really getting excited about the next 2 prequels because they are going to be dark. I think Episode I was Lucas' last chance to make a happy movie and now they're just kind of go down.

TFN. You don't have any other ideas for other films for you?

J. At this point no. I really don't.

TFN. But you want to make more films?

J. Oh yes. Well, I wrote a screenplay that I would like to direct eventually but I want to do that, see a documentary can be done on video. I mean that' s good for documentaries. That's not a good format for narrative fiction movies. You kind of gotta use film stock for that. I bet I could do it digitally but I don't really want to. I kind of want to that at least on 16 mm and that's kind of cost prohibitive.

TFN. So that's how you're screenplay would be made?

J. Yeah it would be or if I sell it and somebody else does it but I really don't want to do that. But I'm kind of as I've learned as much as I've spread myself really thin on this one I kind of do like to be in control of all aspects of the project. I'm not a control freak by any sense but I mean I just kinda, you have a certain vision for something and you don't like to see that diluted by anybody else. I mean granted someone else could edit it and I'd be perfectly happy with that. Editing a documentary is different than editing another kind of feature because documentary is all about what you're not going to use. This movie basically is composed of 4% of the footage I shot over 2 years. So 96% of the footage I shot is nothing, it's all outtakes. It doesn't work the same way with other types of films. When I go about a script I know that's what I want and pretty much if it's edited together that's what it looks like. So if someone else edits it I'm perfectly happy with that but I want to direct it and even if someone else produces it that's fine too. But I mean I definitely want to direct it, I kind of want the whole writer/director thing. The creative part of it, you know, I mean editing is creative as well. And you know I obviously don't need to be the cinematographer. It depends on what kind of budget I'm dealing with. I mean if I have a full crew obviously I'll get a cinematographer. I mean I had to be the cinematographer on this or videographer or whatever way you want to look at it and that was just one of the other things I had to do because this was like a real diy kind of project.

TFN How did you come up with the idea for doing this?

J. I couldn't wait for the new movie. I started dreaming about a new movie like opening day and really bad dreams like the theater was an hour away but the movie was starting in 5 minutes and I had to walk and it was uphill and it was snowing and all this other stuff. And then I just wanted the movie to come out and I 'd be going to the fan sites every day and it just hit me just like that! And I just can't explain it any other way. It just hit me. With the build up of all those things and just one day I was sitting at work going to the sites and I had the idea and that's how it happened. It was sometime in '97.

TFN. I think it's great.

J. Thank you.

Click here for the conclusion of Sherry's interview with Jeff Cioletti.

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