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INTERVIEW: Austin Shaddix – Director of Star Wars: The Hallow Seeker

With the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December and all the other Star Wars films coming from Disney, it’s great to see that fans are getting involved and telling their owns stories, too. Austin Shaddix is one such filmmaker, with his upcoming Star Wars: The Hallow Seeker bound to be another worthy addition to the family of Star Wars fan productions. You can contribe to the film here to help bring a little bit more Star Wars wonder into the world.

APTHYC: Why did you decide to tell your own story in the Star Wars Universe?

Shaddix: Honestly, because I’m a very giddy fanboy. The anticipation for The Force Awakens sort-of just made me want to put together something fun and exciting. Normally I’m pumping out original short films that me and my team collaborate together on. But I’ve never done a fan film before, and I’ve always wanted to. So I knew if I was going to do a fan film, it had to be in a galaxy far, far away.

APTHYC: As this is set 28 years after Return of the Jedi, will you be using the continuity of the now-dead Expanded Universe like Admiral Thrawn taking over the Empire and the Yuuzhan Vong War?

Shaddix: Yes and no. I think it’s very unfortunate that the expanded universe is considered “unofficial” now. Because in a way, our work will be considered in some ways expanded. But as unfortunate as it is, fortunately our story doesn’t collide with those events. So it will be as though we’re not necessarily ignoring or casting out those pieces of the puzzle, but making a new, smaller puzzle on the side. We’ve come up with our own little fiction-within-the-fiction, that sort-of holds its own ground and doesn’t involve the EU.

APTHYC: Tatooine has a ton of indigenous creatures, Dewbacks, Womp Rats, Rontos, Krayt Dragons etc. Will we be seeing any?

Shaddix: I would love to, honestly. But I think our budget won’t allow us, unfortunately. However, the short will be nicely sprinkled with references to Tatooine life, such as Tusken Raiders and that good old Cantina Band tune.

APTHYC: What about sentient aliens and droids?

Shaddix: We do have a droid that I’m really excited about. She’s a small sphere shaped droid, a bit similar to a DRK-1 probe droid. She has a bit of humorous bickering with our character Darius. We call her DOT.

APTHYC: Where are you filming? In a desert setting to resemble Tatooine?

Shaddix: The location for the interior scenes of The Hallow, our hero’s freighter vessel, will most likely be shot in the garage of our set designer/prop maker Noah Fischel. There, we can have the freedom to shoot in a flexible environment, with green screen and proper lighting to still get that stranded-in-a-desert vibe. We’re currently scouting locations in the southern Nevada area, but nothing confirmed yet. We may look into the desert around Primm, past the border into California. There’s lots of desolate sand out there that could be perfect for exterior scenes.

APTHYC: Will we see lightsaber duels and space battles?

Shaddix: The story will definitely be pushing to an exciting lightsaber duel, but unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be doing any space battles due to our budget, as much as I would seriously love to. But you can be assured that the action will deliver the punch, we have an excellent stunt coordinator at our side.

APTHYC: Will the Force play a large part?

Shaddix: It will certainly play a part. Our protagonists are smugglers, but they’ll for sure run into somebody, who the force is very strong with.

APTHYC: Can you talk about the plot? I understand that it involves a crashed TIE Fighter?

Shaddix: Yes, it does! Coincidentally, Episode VII also involves a TIE Fighter crashing on a desert planet. I honestly wasn’t aware of that until about a month ago. But anyway, our story follows two smugglers, Captain Akana Maider and her first mate Darius, stranded in a desolate Tatooine desert, when one night a TIE Fighter crashes out on the horizon. When they set out to investigate, they get caught in the middle of a manhunt between a seeming fugitive fighter pilot named Nash Artell, and the evil force out to capture him. There’s a bit of mystery as to who is who, and what their intentions are, so I won’t say anything more than that.

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APTHYC: You talk about an ancient evil returning?

Shaddix: Yes, that’s in relation to what’s after Nash. I’ll just say that this is one of our characters with the Force.

APTHYC: Can you talk about the cast and characters?

Shaddix: I’m really lucky to work with such a fantastic and talented cast, who are actually all just great friends of mine with a passion for acting and Star Wars. One of the actors, who plays Darius, has actually been my best friend since high school. Kelsey Calcifer Sissons has actually been involved in a lot major productions, while Timothy J. Weir and Billie Sherman both acted in my upcoming thriller short film, So They Run, and this will be my first film collaboration with Jolene Stewart, who is a fantastic local actress. But you can see their head shots and read all of their short biographies on our Facebook page! As for the characters, I wanted our two heros to really have that Han and Chewy vibe. Two great pals who’ve been on so many adventures together, and we’ve just caught them in the middle of another. I’m excited for all these characters to collide, as I want it to remind people of when Luke met Obi-Wan, when they met Han and Chewy, and when all of them rescued and met Leia.

The two stars would also like to give a few short quotes to represent their personalities:

Kelsey Calcifer Sissons: “Here’s looking at you, you scruffy-looking nerf-herder.”
Cameron Coleman: “Hey um, what is ham? Like I know like what it is, but like WHAT is it you know. I don’t know, I’m lonely.”

APTHYC: What kind of runtime will the film have?

Shaddix: At the moment, I’m not entirely sure. It may end up around 20 minutes, or maybe 15. Originally, the plan was 10 minutes, but the plot just grew into something I couldn’t cut down. So we’ll see!

APTHYC: Any word on a release date?

Shaddix: Not yet, but it may be after the release of Episode VII. Originally, I wanted to get it out before then, but Murphy has that law. Production should begin in mid-October.

APTHYC: I’ve interviewed several people working on their own Star Wars films, and they all love the fact that the series is so open to fan-created work. Are you glad that they are so welcoming?

Shaddix: Oh, absolutely! Half the help I’ve gotten to pull this off has come from the wonderful community, and our very knowledgeable stunt coordinator Joshua Orion Dietrich, who’s also been our Star Wars universe consultant. I think it’s really great that filmmakers now can put out something for the fandom to enjoy, it gives us a chance to really live our dream, as geeks and story-tellers.

APTHYC: And what do you feel about the new movies?

Shaddix: December is still too far away. I could not be more excited. I think JJ Abrams is very capable of giving us something grand in this new episode. Also, the fact that we’re getting Boba Fett and Han Solo movies makes me want to scream like a little girl. I won’t… But I want to.

Are you excited for this thrilling new Star Wars fan-film? Are there any aspects you want to see adapted into live-action? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

About the author

Davidde Gelmini