Last week we told you about The Prequels Strike Back, the documentary regarding criticisms of the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy that is currently crowdfunding on IndieGoGo. Since the original article, Ministry of Cinema (the production company behind the endeavor) has managed to raise the funds needed to realize the project as a short documentary. They are now aiming their sights at the first stretch goal of $5000 to make it a Web series before looking towards the second stretch goal of $7500, which will fund a feature-length documentary.
We recently had a chance to chat with Bradley Weatherholt of Ministry of Cinema about the project, his history with Star Wars, and more. Check it out!
Q: Hey Bradley, thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us. Can you tell us a bit about your documentary The Prequels Strike Back, and what prompted you to want to make it?
A: Thanks for having me. This is awesome.
The Prequels Strike Back is a documentary about the stories behind the Star Wars prequels. Anyone who is a Star Wars fan, or has been on the Internet once or twice in their life, has a profound awareness of the vocal group of fans disappointed in the prequels. This documentary is about those militaristic fans, the less vocal minority opinion, as well as a few other theories surrounding the Star Wars prequels. Most notable of these theories is Mike’s work on Ring Composition with the saga.
The inspiration for the film came after reading Mike’s theory. It had a very strange effect on me. I was never a complete prequel hater, but I did kinda subscribe to the almost obligatory fan position of “the prequels suck.” Mike’s theory allowed me to take a step back, and for the first time entertain the notion that there could be something very substantial going on in the prequels. I’m not an absolute convert. In fact, I’m not an absolute anything on the prequels, and I think that’s the philosophy behind the documentary. If you fall into absolutes, you miss a lot of cool ideas involving the entire saga.
Q: I’d be remiss not to include the obligatory reference to Obi-Wan’s line, “Only the Sith deal in absolutes” from Revenge of the Sith. Moving past that, can you tell us a bit about your own experience with the Star Wars saga such as your first exposure to it and what about the films have captured your interest?
A: I was going to mention that line! But then I got really self-conscious–can I set up my own joke? Would this be too cheesy? I’m glad for the universe’s sake you mentioned it.
My first memory with Star Wars was with the release of The Phantom Menace. I was a small boy at the time. I saw it at a drive-in theater, and I fell asleep at the beginning. I slept through almost the entire movie, but I woke up when the “Duel of the Fates” finale played. I loved it. From then on, the rest of my boyhood was spent following the prequels. When I got older, with access to the Internet, there was a pivot in the way I viewed the prequels. I became very critical. It was this loss of innocence, where you equate maturity to bashing something you did/liked as a child. So, I guess you can say I’ve come full circle.
Q: It’s easy to see why the internet can play a role in swaying one’s opinions against the prequels. If you look at the comments for the article I initially posted about The Prequels Strike Back, the prequel bashing began pretty much instantly without missing a beat. If those folks were to take a moment and give The Prequels Strikes Back a chance, what would you hope they take away from the experience?
A: That’s a really good question, and it’s something that’s been on my mind. There are really two kind of naysayers to the prequels. The first are the feisty, absurdly disappointed fans that often monopolize the conversation. The second are people who kind of just disregard the prequels, as if they didn’t happen. For the latter category, I think the film would succeed if it did a solid job at presenting an argument that at least makes them question the prevailing narrative of the prequels: George Lucas was money hungry, special effects were all that matter, they’re empty, etc. For that first type of fans, I’m cautious. There’s something almost unhealthy in the way they discuss the prequels, like a heartbroken lover mentioning an ex-girlfriend or that highly political friend who for some reason just cares obsessively about that one political position. I think if they gave it a shot they’d find the material therapeutic.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about Ministry of Cinema? How did it come about and can you tell us more about your past works?
A: The Ministry of Cinema is at its core a group of best friends that banded together to escape the tedium of everyday living and do what they love, all things cinema. The group is led by myself, Kyle Brodeur, and Matthew Fielder. We are actually finishing up a few episodes on our most recent web series, Film Genres and Hollywood. You can check it out on YouTube with our other series over cinematic history. (Another shameless plug: you can check out its website at www.filmgenresandhollywood.com.)
We also make short films, with our ultimate goal being feature-length narratives. We’ve got a lot of experience turning a dollar into ten dollars worth of production value, and I think that shows in our Western The Bounty Hunter. We are also a few episodes into our ambitious (probably overly-ambitious) sci-fi series The System Stone Saga. You can check out the episodes Origin and Megiddo online as well.
Q: I’ve watched several of your videos at this point and definitely recommend others do the same thing. It’s good stuff and really shows that you guys are more than capable of tackling a production of this nature with The Prequels Strike Back. As we start to wrap up, is there anything else you would like to mention in regards to this project? Anything else that you feel that people should know?
A: Thanks! That’s nice of you to say. We’ve still got a lot to learn, and a long way to climb, but each project gets better and better.
I think the big misunderstanding with the project right now comes from the prequels haters. This documentary has no intention of just refuting their points. That’s an exhausting and likely useless exercise. What it will do, however, is allow other theories to make their cases. We aren’t going to forget the Red Letter Medias of the community. Those fans make valid points on the prequels! What’s not valid, though, is blocking an open forum for discussing all kinds of ideas on the prequels. We want to open the door for discussion. Not close it from disappointment.
Q: I think that’s great way to come at it, trying to belay the knee-jerk reaction and have an open, healthy discussion about it. You mentioned earlier that Mike Klimo’s Star Wars Ring Theory is what set about your own reevaluation of the movies. What in particular about his theory struck a chord with you?
A: At first, I expected the theory to be a convoluted justification for the prequels written by some smart fan with a mission. I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a critical theory by a film theorist, and not solely a Star Wars fan’s commentary. That was an important distinction for me at first, since before my introduction to the theory, I had just about discarded any notion on the prequels outside the standard Jar Jar lamentations.
Mike mentioned to me the other day that he is a cinema fan first, then a Star Wars fan. I love this idea, and I think it’s transparent in his work. It’s my goal to have the same priority with The Prequels Strike Back.
Q: As someone with a deep love of cinema myself, that’s really exciting to hear and makes me even more eager to see a feature length version of The Prequels Strike Back. You guys have hit your initial goal and are zeroing in on the first stretch goal of $5,000. Can you pitch (for lack of a better term) our readers on why they should continue donating and what reaching those stretch goals will entail?
A: This last week completely blew us away. It’s crazy. I can say on behalf of everyone involved with the project, we are all deeply, deeply touched. We want to do this right. This is something the fans deserve, and we are just humbled to be able to do it.
In hindsight, we way undershot with the $3,500 goal. We miscalculated the generosity of Star Wars fans. From the very beginning we’ve had one mission: make a feature. This would require around double what our goal was. I don’t know exactly why we didn’t just ask for the $7,500 at the beginning, but I think we all really wanted to make sure we were modest with our plea. I’m not sure if this makes sense, but we didn’t want to sound rude by asking for $7,500. Is that crazy?
I can say that every dime we raise will only make the film better. There are dozens of people, stories, and ideas worth discussing. And I think this is the documentary for them.
We expect to update our IndieGoGo soon, to highlight some of the objectives with funding for a feature.
Q: Before we let you go, we’ll be posting a link to the campaign in this article, but where else can our readers find you and Ministry of Cinema on the internet?
Q: Awesome. Well, thanks a lot for chatting with us about The Prequel Strikes Back and best of luck with the rest of the campaign and future projects!
A: Thank you!
Take a look at the campaign video for The Prequels Strike Back and consider donating to the project via Indiegogo.