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Fanboys Director Discusses Facing Down Darth Weinstein

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Kyle Newman responds to the Stop Darth Weinstein campaign his movie spawned and reflects on the period of innocence before the Star Wars prequels were released.

Q: Congratulations on finally getting the movie released — and with the cancer plot intact. Why was that so important to you?

A: It was the heart. At the center of the movie is friendship, and the lengths that people go to for each other, and that was definitely in danger of being omitted and diminished. Without that, they’re just miscreants or criminals. I’m glad everyone got back on the same page, came to their senses and allowed us to more or less go make the version that we all set out to make years ago.

Q: What was your reaction to the Stop Darth Weinstein campaign?

A: When I first saw the stuff online, I was a little upset: You’re making something you’ve been working on for years, and suddenly, people are talking about how they’re changing it, making it sound like the film we made had problems. We all stand very firm by our original vision of the film, but the studio had a very different perspective, and tried to explore it, which is their right. It was our right creatively and privately to object to that. I stood back to the side and I said, “It is what it is.” Harvey [Weinstein] thought there was a bigger audience of non-Star Wars people in the world, that we could make fun of Star Wars fans or turn it into a spoof film. And there’s still a touch or two of that influence, but we’ve shaped it in a way that still fits our story.

Q: It seems bittersweet that a group of die-hard Star Wars fans would go to such lengths to steal a movie most fanboys hated.

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A: Personally I liked the prequels. But I felt like it’s something that my movie never needed to get into. I thought this film was more a coming-of-age story, and it was set against the backdrop of this period of innocence before the prequels came out, when there was this anticipation for something that people had waited 15 years for. It was almost like the journey to it was more exciting than the actual movie. A lot of people were re-awakened to Star Wars, and it didn’t hinge on whether or not the movies were good, it was just about people coming together for it.

Q: As a fanboy yourself, what was it like bringing all of the Star Wars alum in on the movie?

A: It was a dream come true. When Billy Dee Williams flew in, we went out to dinner with him because we wanted to pick his brain. And right as we were getting into the good part of the dinner, they came down and said, “You have a call now with Carrie Fisher.” And I’m like, “A call with Carrie Fisher during my dinner with Billy Dee Williams!” So I went up and had this amazing conversation with her, and when I came back downstairs Billy Dee Williams was just finishing up and said, “That’s all I got to say about Star Wars.” I missed everything!

Q: What was your experience with William Shatner like?

A: William Shatner was awesome. He came in and he said to me, “What’s all this about Star Wars vs. Star Trek? You guys are fabricating this, right?” He didn’t think there was an actual rivalry. But it was great to have him come down. I wasn’t sure what to expect since we were making fun of Trek, and he was totally game for everything.

Q: This movie is coming about during a period of geek renaissance. How do you feel about that?

A: I think even just the idea of “geek” has evolved. It’s not the clichéd person that lives in their Mom’s basement. It’s someone that wears their heart on their sleeve. They have this affinity for stuff and they’re not afraid to show it anymore.

Q: My girlfriend didn’t believe that “fanboys” was a word.

A: Oh really? [Laughs]. At one point early on they were talking about changing the title to something “more catchy.” Really awful titles like The Great Journey or The Last Trip. A lot of people — people even making this movie — didn’t realize that “fanboys” was a term. And I was like, “We can’t change the title. That’s who these guys are, that’s what this is, and we’re going to own it.”

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