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George Lucas picks Chad Vader as best fan film

The eighth episode of <i>Chad Vader</i> was shot in the Willy Street Co-op in late March (for which I volunteered as a member of the crew).
The eighth episode of Chad Vader was shot in the Willy Street Co-op in late March (for which I volunteered as a member of the crew).
Credit:Kristian Knutsen
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One of the many weekend highlights of Celebration IV in Los Angeles was the awards announcements in the Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge conducted by AtomFilms. The big winner of the contest was Madison's own Chad Vader, which won the "George Lucas Selects" award.

The first episode of the series, which skyrocketed to Internet stardom almost immediately following its debut in July 2006, was selected by Star Wars creator (and pop culture lightning rod) George Lucas as his favorite film of the among the hundreds of entries and 19 finalists in the contest. In a Blame Society Productions press release issued Tuesday afternoon, Vader creators Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda say they are "very honored" and look towards potential future collaborations with Lucasfilms. "We're hoping that we can keep making Chad Vader but get paid to do it, along with the cast and crew," says Yonda. They just want Lucas's okay: "Yeah, we want you to keep making this."

Viewed nearly 30,000 times in the two weeks at AtomFilms since it was entered (not to mention millions more times elsewhere), Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager also boasted some of the highest fan ratings among the short films that were in the challenge. "It's pretty cool," says Yonda about having confirmation that George Lucas has seen Chad Vader. "I wish I knew exactly what his thoughts were on it," he notes. "I'd love to have a chat with him."

"I guess this means he won't shut us down, but I suppose I already knew that," notes Matt Sloan while annoucing another voice acting gig as Darth Vader for a Lucasarts video game.

The award was accepted at Celebration IV by Mike McCafferty, an L.A.-based actor who plays the role of the "Ghost," the title character's mentor in his quest to reclaim his position at Empire Market (a.k.a. the Willy Street Co-op) during the second half of the series' first season. "We found out that we won on Sunday night," explains Yonda. "I was over at Matt's and Mike McCafferty gave us a call to tell us we won."

Already available for viewing online, this first episode of Chad Vader will also be screened tonight, May 29, at 10:25 p.m. (Central) on Spike TV to conclude the challenge. More discussion about the award is ongoing at the Blame Society Productions forum, with more details about the other challenge winners can be found in a press release issued today by the Spike network. "We have had a lot of entrants this year. It's been a tough and intense judging process," Lucas said in the release. "We have decided that the winner this year is 'Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager,' by Matt Sloan and Aaron Yoda -- oh, that's not right -- Yonda."

"We're working on a bunch of projects right now," says Yonda, including a new short about one man's worthiness to drive a truck that is expected to debut in June. As for Chad Vader, they're hoping to kick off production on its second season by the end of summer.

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