Fan films are ambitious projects by definition. They try to recreate something from other media and create the same ambiance and feel of the original, but on a teensy tiny wee little budget. Today’s offering, Rebel Scum, is a trailer for a Star Wars fan film due out September of 2015. It sets up the movie as being a story about one under-prepared rebel pilot Echo 12, stranded out on Hoth far from his squadron and deep in Empire controlled territory. His snowspeeder is down, his co-pilot Lars is dead, and he’s in trouble a lot deeper than the snow he’s walking in.

What sets Rebel Scum apart from other Star Wars fan films, and in fact other independent productions in general, is that all the effects were done using old school, traditional methods. No computer animation, no particle effects – just models, miniatures, and matte painting. Oh, and the backgrounds aren’t fake. They’re the real deal. Rebel Scum was filmed over a period of two months at the Columbia Icefields in Alberta Canada on the Athabasca Glacier. Due the nature of the hostile environment a custom thermal rig was built to keep the cameras from freezing in -30C/-22F. You can’t get a more authentic environment than actually being there.

As usual, when watching films on the Krypton Radio web site, temporarily pause the sound track being provided by the station itself using the handy controller to the upper right so that it doesn’t conflict with the sound track in the video. You can turn the radio back on afterwards.  Ready? Here we go:

You’d wonder how they thought to go actually film on a glacier, until you learn something about their lives before they began this project. It turns out they come by it naturally.

Timothy, Paul and Daniel Nguyen are all filmmakers, and have been passionate about it all their lives. They come from a unique background: a grandfather who served as a North Vietnamese general during the Vietnam War; a fugitive father fleeing eastern Europe during the Warsaw Pact; a missionary mother rescuing Cambodian refugees from Khmer Rouge. The brothers grew up on the road, from the arctic wastelands of Greenland and Iceland to spending years in dense jungles all over Southeast Asia. Living such adventurous lives themselves has given them a passion for powerful narratives from the life stories of others.

The three brothers have independently produced 22 short films over a period of 9 years, with their first feature film in released 2012. Paul is the writer of the family, having written and produced numerous screenplays for each of his brother’s collaborations. Timothy directs, and has directed 22 film productions. Daniel is the production designer of the team and likes to work mainly with science fiction, fantasy and period pieces. They all graduated from the same place, the University of the Nations School of Digital Filmmaking, class of 2013.

The effects in the trailer are, of course, flawless. Our only criticism is that as a trailer, it drags a bit. It feels like they didn’t have quite enough footage of a whole action sequence put together to release as a trailer, and stretched it out with too long a hold on one moment establishing the title character – which probably works great in their feature rough cut, but doesn’t work for the pacing of what should have been probably 15 to 20 seconds shorter.

The timing of the release of Rebel Scum couldn’t be better, with Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens due out December 18. There is so much room for Rebel Scum to become the breakout fan film hit of 2015 that we are essentially holding our breath waiting.

We mean this sincerely, Nguyen brothers: May the Force be with you.

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