The Dark Redemption

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Fan Film
Title: The Dark Redemption
Creator: written by Dwight Steven-Boniecki, Derek Curtis, Warren Duxbury, and directed by Peter Mether
Date: 1999
Length: about 24 minutes
Genre: gen
Fandom: Star Wars
URL: on YouTube, at

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The Dark Redemption is a 1999 Australian Star Wars fan film. Set immediately before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, the film follows the adventures of Mara Jade (depicted here as a Force-sensitive agent for the Rebel Alliance) who carries the plans for the Death Star. Captured and taken to the Imperial prison planet Kessel, Mara must ensure the Rebels receive the precious data she carries, and finds an ally in Boba Fett, who has come to Kessel to ensure Jabba the Hutt's spice shipments are uninterrupted.

poster for the film

The website the film was (hosted on? talked about?) received a cease and desist letter from Lucasfilm.

The film was shown at 1999 DragonCon.

One of the film's creators, Warren Duxbury, talks about the film at Echo Station Interview with Warren Duxbury. See It's Not Wise to Upset a Wookiee: LFL and Internet Copyright Issues, page 2, Archived version for photos.


  • Damian Rice ... Zev Senesca
  • Jason Chong ... Klaus Vanderon
  • Martin Grelis ... Boba Fett
  • Leah McLeod ... Mara Jade
  • Peter Sumner ... Lieutenant Pol Treidum
  • David Wheeler ... Garrock
  • Drew Sneddon ... Darth Sidious
  • William Bowden... Voice of Darth Sidious
  • Nathan Harvey ... Kyle Katarn
  • Uncredited voice actor ... Han Solo
  • Ben Craig ... Darth Vader
  • Alan Cinis ... Voice of Darth Vader


Shut Out

But when the winning entries are announced on Friday in front of some 20,000 fans expected at a Star Wars convention in Indianapolis, many of the most popular online movies will not be among them. As it turned out, they were not even eligible for consideration.

Citing a need to protect its copyrights, Lucasfilm limited the contest to spoofs and documentaries, shutting out some of Mr. Lucas's most ardent fans, many of whom have reinterpreted his famous storyline to create online comedies, dramas and light-saber duels of their own. Under the contest rules, Star Wars Gangsta Rap, a retelling of the original Star Wars trilogy in rhyme, is eligible, while Dark Redemption, set two days before Star Wars: A New Hope, with a girl Jedi, is not.

"We've been very clear all along on where we draw the line," said Jim Ward, vice president of marketing for Lucasfilm. "We love our fans. We want them to have fun. But if in fact somebody is using our characters to create a story unto itself, that's not in the spirit of what we think fandom is about. Fandom is about celebrating the story the way it is." [1]

The Interview for Echo Station

Dave Phillips: You weren't exactly *quiet* about the production of this film...I knew about the site for quite some time, and I'm sure folks at LFL did as well... why do you think they waited so long to do anything about it?

Warren Duxbury: I am pretty sure that they tolerated what we were doing only for the course of the Melbourne competition.

DP: Don't you feel sort of stifled? I mean, this *was*, after all, a production that you put no small amount of time into. There was an interesting discussion on our boards for a few days about LFL's reaction to your film, particularly among those interested in and writing fan fiction. Your work was, essentially, a larger-scale version of a fan fiction based piece of writing... yours just made it onto a different kind of medium... and the action taken by LFL is seen by some as being a direct action taken against fan fiction in general. Any thoughts?

WD: Like I have said to many people, we were happy to comply with LucasFilm’s request to shut down the site... it is their property, after all, that they are protecting and I totally respect that.

DP: What is The Dark Redemption?

WD: The Dark Redemption is a 20-minute short film based on the Star Wars universe created by George Lucas. It was intended primarily for a competition run by a Melbourne based Australian Star Wars fan club. The film was designed to delight the hard core fans of Star Wars and also to appeal to the major audience who just love Star Wars for what it is.

DP: What was the purpose behind making it?

WD: It all started after I approached several workmates at Foxtel in Sydney, Australia, after hearing about the Star Wars Fan Film Festival being held at a Star Wars Convention in Melbourne. The original people involved were people who I knew were big Star Wars fans. After the script was finished we started meeting a lot of other enthusiastic Star Wars fans who worked in the Media Industry. It suddenly became clear to me that it was actually going to be possible to make a fan film like TDR.

DP: How long did it take to make it?

WD: Approximately 20 months from the original idea to the finished product.

DP: How much did it cost to make it?

WD: I personally put several thousand dollars into the project. Most of the money was spent on the replica costumes.

DP: Where did all the cast members come from?

WD: It only took a few people to say yes for everyone else to jump in head-first. My favourite bit of casting, of course, was the very lovely Channel [V] Australia Hostess, Leah McLeod. Leah was absolutely superb as the character Mara Jade. I still can't believe what a stroke of luck it was having her involved! We were also contacted by an original cast member from Star Wars... Peter Sumner (who played Lt. Pol Treidum)... and he was keen to be involved and of course we jumped at the opportunity to include him. He was great! He is a true professional! It was so nice to have him on the set, as the fans got to hear some interesting stories about his experience on the set of Star Wars and his encounters with George Lucas and Alec Guinness.

DP: Were they volunteers, or paid?

WD: Everyone involved in the production gave their time freely. The enthusiasm was mind-blowing and that helped a lot. Creating that Star Wars look was achieved with the access to many of the authentic prop replica Star Wars costumes, through my good mates Scott Page and Daniel Budd. Many of those involved are full-time professionals donating their time, resources and expertise for free -- doing what we all thought was a worthwhile and challenging project.

DP: What about the camera crew, as well as the lighting/sound people and equipment?

WD: Yep, all professionals just lending their expertise.

DP: Can you give us a quick plot synopsis?

WD: The planet Kessel is an Empire-controlled mining colony indigenous to a telepathy inducing 'Spice.' The Bounty Hunter, Boba Fett, is on a mission to maintain established smuggling links for the notorious crime boss, Jabba the Hutt. A power hungry Imperial Officer, Garrock, strikes a deal with Fett on the guaranteed safe passage of the 'Spice.' He demonstrates his resourcefulness and power by allowing smuggler Han Solo to escape harassment by the strict Kessel security forces. Mara Jade is sentenced to life imprisonment on Kessel. For some reason the Imperials in charge of operations on Kessel have no idea who she really is. She is suspected of holding vital information about the Empire's new top secret Death Star Project. A band of Rebel Alliance renegade fighters (Zev Senesca, Klaus Vanderon and the Aqualish ally Hah'shyyk Baba) make a bold attempt to rescue her... but her loyalties lie elsewhere....

DP: When did you first hear from LucasFilm? Was it before or after the film was finished?... if before, did it have any effect on the production crew?

WD: They contacted us after the production was completed and the competition was over. The whole team have fully supported the decision to shut down the site... however the film is "out there" now... just like other fan films and fan fiction.

DP: Are there any copies of the film remaining, or did LucasFilm require they be turned over to them/destroyed?

WD: Everyone involved has a copy, obviously, and a copy was sent to the U.S. for inclusion in this year's DragonCon Sci-Fi Convention.

DP: How popular did the website get before it was forced to shut down?

WD: Extremely popular. We were receiving several hundred hits a day from both here and overseas.

DP: What is/was the best thing about being involved in this project?

WD: Working with all the people involved was definitely the best part. Surprisingly the whole production went very smoothly and I am happy to add that many strong friendships were made during the course of the production. I think the enthusiasm from everyone involved just had a snowball effect. We were very lucky to have such a great bunch of people all working for a common goal.

DP: What's the worst thing about the project for you?

WD: It was a very demanding project to oversee. It really was like having two jobs for eighteen months! Many times I would have loved to walk away from the whole thing, but there were too many people involved to let down so we all stuck with it!

DP: How did the cast react?

WD: As for the cast reaction... like I said earlier, we pretty much anticipated the move so it was no shock to anyone involved.

DP: I understand that it had (at least) one showing... what was the audience's reaction to the film?

WD: The response to the film in the U.S. at the recent DragonCon Sci-Fi Convention was totally unexpected! The organisers contacted me after the showing to tell me that the audience absolutely love it!

DP: Do you have any other works in progress?

WD: Not at the moment. The role of Executive Producer was extremely demanding, and I can see why George (Lucas) has said that he won't be devoting any more of his life to producing Star Wars films after he completes Episode Three. When something consumes your life that much, as TDR has with mine, you really want to move on and do something different or in my case take some time off and do the things that you have missed out on doing during the course of making the film.

DP: Has this turn of events soured you on Star Wars or LucasFilm in any manner?

WD: Not at all.

DP: Thanks for your time once more... for what it's worth, what I saw on the website looked impressive. I'm sorry I never got the chance to see the full version, as I'm sure I would've been even more blown away.


It's like watching a 70's Star Wars DR WHO episode. Creeper dudes and half the dialogue lifted from A New Hope with original masterpieces like, "Silence or you will be silenced" and "what a drag." If you want a good laugh, this is for you. [2]
This looks and feels like a porno without any of the sexy stuff. [3]
For fans who can’t wait for next year’s “Episode III”, this fan-made offering should help tide them over for the next several months. While not on par with the official films, “Star Wars: The Dark Redemption” is well done and more ambitious than most amateur fan films. It’s an enjoyable, albeit brief, treat for fans of the franchise.

Set days before Episode IV, “The Dark Redemption” shows the galaxy in a state of crisis. The Empire has seized the legendary Spice Mines of Kessel, greatly concerning Jabba the Hutt. Fearing the loss of his supply of spice, the intergalactic gangster has dispatched the nefarious bounty hunter Boba Fett to settle the matter. But there is more going on than just a trade disagreement — the Empire has captured a young Jedi named Mara Jade, who possesses the secret plans to the Death Star and is trying to deliver it to the Alliance.

While Mara Jade may be presented as the principal character, it is Boba Fett who shines. Martin Greus does a spectacular job of playing the taciturn anti-hero, giving him an air of menace and athleticism. You can seen why Fett is the best at what he does; he’s willing to do just about anything to survive and accomplish his goal.

On the other hand, Leah McLeod isn’t nearly as impressive as Mara Jade, a character who in her own right has achieved an amazing amount of popularity among fans. Here, the actor fails to project the strength the character has displayed in the novels and comics, and it’s hard to see why the Emperor is so interested in her. Her conversion to the Dark Side is also unconvincing, as if switching sides was as important to her as changing hairstyles. The character is cheated of the evolution she deserves, and becomes too one-dimensional as a result.

The screenplay by Dwight Boniecki and Peter Methers is obviously tailored for “Star War” fans. There are some nice cameos by Kyle Kataran and Darth Vader, and we even get to witness the legendary scene of Han Solo dumping Jabba’s spice. But despite their desire to please fandom, there are problems. The lines frequently come across as awkward, and there’s too much shtick dialogue. Also, the few attempts at comedy fall flat and seem out of place during such dramatic times. The short film also alters the origin of Mara Jade, turning her from an Imperial to a Jedi. It may be a minor alteration, but it’s easier to imagine an Imperial agent willingly serving the Emperor than a dedicated Jedi.

In a short like this, the special effects carry such importance that they can make or break the production. Fortunately, the creative team is up to the task. While Theodore Manietis’ visual effects occasionally look obviously computer generated, overall he does an excellent job. The costumes are terrific, and look like they were snuck out of Lucasfilm just for this filming. Also, Boba Fett looks just like he does in the films. The makeup is also very good, realistic and on par with the original films. It also helps that the short film was shot on Fox’s Sydney studios, the same locales the prequels were lensed. At the very least, it cements the film’s connection to the “Star Wars” universe.

With about 30 minutes to tell his story, director Peter Methers knows he needs to work fast and avoid needless exposition. Under his supervision, the plot moves at light speed and has plenty of action scenes to keep fanboys happy. The one cardinal sin Methers commit is putting a pop song over the closing credits. “Darkside” may be a nice tune to play in your car, but it’s totally out of place in a “Star Wars” film. This is especially true given that an upbeat pop song follows Mara Jade’s seduction to evil; it’s about as appropriate as singing “Ding dong, the witch is dead” at your mother’s funeral.

In the final analysis, “The Dark Redemption” is an enjoyable way to spend half an hour. There may be continuity errors, the special effects may not always be up to the standard we expect, and the semi-professional actors may not perform as well as their Hollywood counterparts, but it’s still fun to watch and appreciate the effort being put forth. At the very least, it beats the stuffing out of “Episode 1″. [4]


Further Reading


  1. ^ FILM; 'Star Wars' Fan Films Come Tumbling Back to Earth, Archived version, dated April 28, 2002. Accessed April 2, 2009.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ Star Wars: The Dark Redemption (1999) Movie Review, 07 September 2004 — by JOSEPH SAVITSKI, Archived version