This week in Galactic Hunter Video Theater, it's Troops, arguably the first fan film phenomenon of the internet age! In it, we see a bunch of special effects and voiceover pros put together 10 minutes that were, to say the least, a huge deal in the era of dial-up internet. In it, you'll see pre-501st Legion costumes and some sharp design work come together from 1997. Creator Kevin Rubio got quite a few decent gigs writing Star Wars comics (also The Clone Wars) as after doing Troops, so check it out after the break!
Back in 1997, not everybody had an iMac with video editing software and a suite of digital cameras. The very notion of putting together a short movie and having the world see it on the computer was sort of ridiculous, especially as internet connection speeds were so slow it could take hours to download a 10-minute video like this one, even in low quality. Back then "File Trading" meant burning it to a CD-ROM or maybe using an Iomega Zip disk to transfer it from office to office, or school to school. Today, all you have to do is go to YouTube and you can see nearly infinite content.
Since this was most peoples' first exposure to a fan film which, while humorous, fit inside the confines of the Star Wars narrative, it inspired legions of fans to try the same thing. Problem is, a bunch of dudes in crappy uniforms serving aboard the Imperial Star Destroyer Mom's Basement won't look like a Star Destroyer no matter how good your PC is, and there's never a substitute for a good costume. Thankfully, fan costuming has grown by leaps and bounds and today, there's a large amount of expertise you can tap in to if you're in need of movie-quality gear for your film. Heck, even a few companies make the stuff.
This film became a rallying point after the Star Wars Special Edition event, in 1996 we all went bonkers trying to get a copy of the trailers for that and in 1997, we were clamoring for something new... and got it.
The legacy of Troops for you guys is probably the entire fan film fanbase. Star Wars has so many subcultures in its fandom, it's amazing. There are fans who only like the novels, or who have seen the movies and play KOTOR-era games and that's about it. There are collectors, there are even Star Wars artists. Heck, a lot of us even got our jobs because of Star Wars, so thank goodness for Troops and the advent of the internet because it gave angry aimless teenagers of the 1990s a shot at playing around with and/or irritating the masses with their riffs on our favorite licensed property that isn't Uncle Scrooge.
Director/writer Kevin Rubio would go on to write the Tag & Bink comics and a bunch of funny shorts in the Star Wars Tales series. admire him for not taking the easy jokes. (No offense to those of you who still laugh at "It's a trap!" in 2012. That joke was bludgeoned to death before the 1990s ended.) Where was I? Oh yeah! He also wrote "Bombad Jedi" in the first season of The Clone Wars, a comic episode which I'm not ashamed to say I laughed out loud, loudly, at a couple of times when I first saw it. Yay Troops!