Fan films are the ultimate expression of love for blockbuster Hollywood film and TV franchises and nowhere is the passion more evident than within that vast and colorful galaxy far, far away. To celebrate that creativity, we've put together this list of our favorite Star Wars fan films.
More than perhaps any other intellectual pop culture property, Star Wars incites do-it-yourself filmmakers to render their own creative interpretations of the heroes, villains, aliens, and creatures that inhabit this expansive space opera universe. Amateur shorts spawned from every corner of Star Wars’ multi-billion-dollar worlds come in an enticing array of imaginative live-action and animated film projects that Papa Lucas himself would be most proud of.
Here’s our countdown of 7 not-for-profit, unauthorized Star Wars fan films that display an uncanny knack for sci-fi storytelling and visual effects despite humble grassroots origins.
7. Star Wars: Against All Odds (2021)
This little CGI gem comes from Frostbite Cinematics. It was the talented creators’ first attempt at a fan film and was entered in the Cinematic Captures amateur film contest. Viewers are dropped right in the center of a furious firefight between battle droids and clone troopers.
Our hero is the last clone standing until a Republic gunship swoops in to save him. Characters, environments, and spaceships were sourced from the games Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order and then crafted using the incredible Unreal Engine.
6. Star Wars: Scene 38 Reimagined (2019)
Boasting a stratospheric 43 million YouTube views, this thrilling short scores high marks for reimagining the iconic lightsaber fight between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi aboard the Death Star.
Directed by Philip Silvera with SFX by Christopher Clements, it is a far superior clash than the weak climactic duel seen in the original 1977 film and cranks up the number of vicious slashes and agile spins for a much more satisfying confrontation. Stars Daniel Brown as Kenobi and Richard Cetrone as Vader in a Forceful battle truly worthy of the Star Wars name.
5. Darth Maul: Apprentice (2016)
Woe to other fan films hoping to achieve the same level of intensity and action as this excellent example written and directed by Shawn Bu, with fight choreography by Vi-Dan Tran.
Starring Ben Schamma (Darth Maul), Mathis Landwehr (Jedi Master), Svenja Jung (Jedi Apprentice), Eskindir Tesfay (Jedi Berserker), and Maja Felicitas Bergmann (Togruta Jedi), it’s a rousing lightsaber clash between the horned Dathomirian Darth Maul and a clan of brave Jedi Knights and apprentices. This fan film packs a serious emotional punch considering it’s an amateur short. 31 million YouTube viewers can’t be wrong!
4. Star Wars: Dark Legacy (2017)
Dark Legacy exists on the fringe of the Star Wars Universe and contains outstanding production values and visual effects composed by a dedicated team of filmmakers with solid credentials. Written and directed by Anthony Pietromonaco, the storyline follows the tale of an imprisoned Sith apprentice captured by a vicious Sith Master hunting for the student who will reign supreme over him and ascend to greatness.
It stars Erin Wu, Fabien Garcia, and Dave Thomas and features striking effects with original sculptures by Jaremy Aiello, makeup and special effects Mo Meinhart (Star Trek, Terminator: Salvation), and combat choreography courtesy of Philip Tan and Z Team Films (Pirates of the Caribbean).
3. Star Wars: X-Wing (2022)
Inspired by LucasArts’ Star Wars X-Wing video game and the X-Wing: The Krytos Trap novel by Michael A. Stackpole, this is an exhilarating short with some killer dogfighting action between daring Rebels and the evil Empire in the skies over Coruscant.
It’s directed by Christopher Parks, who exhibits an obvious love of Star Wars and its raw emotional components. Star Wars: X-Wing is set in the aftermath of Return of the Jedi’s Battle of Endor with the Alliance trying to reclaim Coruscant from Imperial occupation.
2. TK-436: A Stormtrooper Story (2016)
This impressive short was the Filmmaker Select Winner at the 2016 Star Wars Fan Film Awards at Star Wars Celebration Europe. It’s a simple story told with gripping visuals and engaging dialogue, which is sometimes in short supply with Hollywood’s recent forays into the galaxy far, far away.
Directed by Samtubia & Samgoma Edwards, TK-436 centers on a stalwart Imperial Stormtrooper who is forced to relive the atrocities and regrets of his past during a raging battle.
1. TIE Fighter (2015)
Here’s an awesome Empire-centric Star Wars short conceived in the nostalgic style of classic ‘80s Japanese anime. It was drawn and animated by Paul “OtaKing” Johnson over the span of four years of weekends, accompanied by a rockin’ guitar piece from musician Zak Rahman, and sound design by audio technician Joseph Leyva.
After seven years and 13 million YouTube hits, this short still makes us long for a feature-length Star Wars film done in this retro manner!
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Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.