words: Bonnie Burton

At this year’s Star Wars Fan Movie Awards presented by Lucasfilm and Atom at San Diego Comic-Con International, Bounty Hunter II: Pit of Carkoon won the Best Animated Feature. chats with Nebraska-based filmmaker Jim Mehsling about his award-winning film Bounty Hunter II: Pit of Carkoon.

What prompted you to make a Star Wars fan film? How has George Lucas and his films influenced your work?

This is actually my fourth Star Wars fan film. I’ve always been a huge fan of the series and the chance to do my own take on the characters and play around with some animated designs in the Star Wars Universe is a fun challenge.

What is the back story regarding your film?

The back story is what the audience did not see in the films but surely must have happened in Return of the Jedi. Luke and friends must have discussed a rescue plan at some point and treating the skiff guard job like a job orientation presented some gag opportunities, for example, Bib Fortuna mispronouncing Boba Fett’s name.

What are some of the technical aspects of your film? What did you shoot and edit with?

All the characters were created in Adobe Illustrator. I used some Photoshop for the backgrounds. Then I animated it in Adobe Flash CS3 and it was edited with Final Cut Pro.

What were some of the challenges and surprises that happened to you as you were writing/directing/filming your movie?

Since I was solely responsible for all of the design work and animation, and having so many characters and scene changes, just having enough time to animate everything I wanted to became a challenge.

Who were all the principle people in helping get the film made? Who would you thank if your film won an Academy Award?

Scott Beehner: For writing such a great script, his talented voice acting and directing the other voice actors.

Bill Homan: Editing – he really gave everything a polished feel with great sound quality and design and also helped me navigate the technical specs.

Amy Harlow: My girlfriend, who inspired me to get back to work on the cartoon and finish it!
And of course, George Lucas, for creating Star Wars in the first place!

Why do you think recognizing fan films is important?

I think it gives independent filmmakers a chance to show their work and it’s great to see the different genres and mediums while keeping it centered in the Star Wars Universe. Thanks to Lucasfilm and AtomFilms for putting this together! It’s really a fun challenge and great venue to showcase Star Wars fan films.

Do you have aspirations to make films as a career? Or is this simply a labor of love?

I would really like to work on animated feature films.

If you could meet George Lucas, what would you say?

Thank you for the creative gift of your films and inspiration. Are you hiring animators?

Watch all the fan movie winners here:
Atom: Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge


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