Filmmaker Interview: “Star Wars: Retold”

On May 14th, Rooftop Films will kick off our 2010 summer series with the short film program “This is What We Mean by Short Films.” As a part of this program, we will screen Star Wars: Retold, directed by Joseph Nicolosi. In the film, Joe animates a retelling of Star Wars by someone who has not actually seen it and must therefore piece together the plot from pop-culture references. The result is hilarious reimagining of a cinematic classic.

Rooftop Films spoke with Joe about his film.

Rooftop Films: Give a brief description of your film for those who haven’t seen it

Joe Nicolosi: Star Wars: Retold is an animated film about a girl who hasn’t seen Star Wars, and her endearing attempt at piecing it together from random pop-culture references and Family Guy jokes.

RF: Are you a big Star Wars fan?

JN: I am a huge geek. Growing up I would spend every weeks’ allowance on Star Wars paperback novels and Lego sets. Something happened right around exactly the weekend The Phantom Menace came out and I shifted my geek-focus from Star Wars to newer stuff like Farscape, Battlestar Galatica and the Joss Whedon universe. So I’m not as much a Star Wars guy as I used to be, but I still try to Force levitate my cell phone at least once a day.

RF: Where in this day and age did you find someone who hasn’t seen Star Wars?

JN: They’re out there…  It almost seems like a point of pride with some people, which seems silly to me. In the case of the girl in my short, once I sat her down to watch A New Hope she was instantly hooked and insisted on watching the entire original trilogy back-to-back.

RF: A lot of the comedy in the film comes from seeing the Star Wars characters in unexpected locales. How did you decide on the images you were going to use?

JN: I chose whatever image cracked me up at the time. I kept thinking “This is hilarious… but probably just to me.” and then I kept thinking, ‘Who cares?’

RF: Are you a full-time filmmaker? If not, what else are you up to?

JN: I’ve been a freelance editor/motion graphics artist since I graduated college. I have ambitions this summer to start a production company here in Austin with the goal of eventually becoming a full-time filmmaker but that is probably a few years off. In the meantime, I keep busy working on shorts and scripts between gigs.

RF: Describe your next project.

JN: I have a few! I have a documentary about how the survivors of a zombie apocalypse used Twitter during the outbreak. I have a follow up to Star Wars: Retold about a different girl who’s never seen the Exorcist. And I’m also starting to develop an iPhone/iPad horror choose-your-own-adventure film.

RF: Star Wars: Retold will be the first film shown at Rooftop this year, as it perfectly simultaneously subverts and celebrates cinematic culture. How do you feel about that?

JN: Fantastic, and honored. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have my film play with such an amazing set of short films.