We recently had a chance to talk to Cooper Langford regarding his new re-imagining of The Phantom Menace. This fan edit is truly unique and worth the watch for any Star Wars fan. A little bit of action...a little bit of drama...a little bit of comedy...a whole lot of Star Wars. Sit back, have a read, and find out what lives inside the brain of Cooper Langford.
Honor The Force: Your edit is great! I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish and didn't know what to expect from one scene to the next. What made you want to re-edit The Phantom Menace in this way?
Cooper: Well I really appreciate that compliment. Just remember to send me your address so I can mail your check. It actually all started almost a year ago when I began to dabble into Adobe Premiere Pro in my TV Production class. Since I’m a big football buff, I was instructed in putting together highlight videos with the stats of each game to put on the morning show. After a while, I started to catch wind that I was wasting my time doing that because no one really watches the morning show, so I decided to use my skills with something else I’m passionate about. That’s right. I’m talking about proving that Bush did-I MEAN…urgh…excuse me…I mean Star Wars. So I decided to put a few fan-made trailers together for the seven movies that I actually still have, and then I thought…”hey, if I can make a fan trailer, why not make a fan edit?” It actually was originally just supposed to be an extended edition, with me adding the deleted scenes back in the movie, but I started to get a few more ideas and it turned into something big. After Episode I, I moved onto Episode II, III, IV, so on and so forth.
Honor The Force: So you have fan edit trailers that you have put together?
Cooper: Yes I do.
Honor The Force: Did you use the fan edit trailers as a learning platform for what you wanted to do in The Phantom Menace edit?
Cooper: No. Those were ironically two completely different projects. The trailers I made were for the actual Star Wars movies themselves, not for my edits. Although I do have three teasers for my edit that are on The Alliance of Star Wars Fanatics facebook group.
Honor The Force: So you had no intentions of re-editing The Phantom Menace when you were creating your trailers?
Cooper: None at all.
Honor The Force: Interesting…You made several minor changes to very small parts in the film such as special effects, musical score, and scene cuts. These ended up being extremely creative and fresh ideas. How difficult was it to decide where to place these changes throughout the film?
Cooper: On a scale from one to ten, I’d give that a solid twelve. Not only was it tedious to situate everything in the precise place while avoiding any disruption in the actual pacing of the movie, but it was tough to make certain judgements too. There was lots of trial and error involved. For example, you may have noticed that you heard the theme from ‘Rocky’ in the film. That was originally intended to be a joke during the podracing sequence, poking fun at the whole idea that it’s a sports-related scene (as I also did when I added Fox NFL Sunday music in the background), but I was astonished with how well it actually fit with the movie, so I used to again. In fact, you’ll likely hear that same piece six more times.
Honor The Force: About the idea of changing the musical score…What was it about the score that you felt was off?
Cooper: It's not necessarily that it was off, but it's just the music I put in seemed much more fitting for my taste. Like, for example in the original final moments of Qui-Gon's duel with Darth Maul, there's not a whole lot of tension there. In fact there's not even any score. In my version, I used music that helped convey a more powerful message. In my version, he couldn't beat Maul and he was ready to die, but he was going to give him every last bit of fight he had in him throughout his many years as a Jedi. And ironically, that music came directly from 'Taken 2’.
Honor The Force: It came from Taken 2? Really? I didn't recognize that. That's very clever. The music you chose was spot on. That particular scene really did turn out a lot better in your fan edit. The raw emotion was actually heightened by your choice of music.
Cooper: That was the plan. Ive always felt that the character of Qui-Gon Jinn was really unappreciated. He will get justice for that in my next installments.
Honor The Force: Excellent! Qui-Gon is a favorite of the Honor The Force crew. I'm glad to hear you're planning on including him in your future work. With that being said, I gotta ask about the way you handled Darth Maul in your film. You were able to add a bit more depth to that character through your choice of footage. Can you explain a bit about that?
Cooper: There are two answers to that. The first being that the guys over at T7 Productions did a remarkable job with their fan film. They're the ones that deserve the credit, not me. I just thought that it fit perfectly intercut with the first act of the movie, and my original goal was to make an extended edition so that just made the running time go up. The other answer is....that was the only footage of him too. Don't worry. You'll see him again as well.
Honor The Force: That fan film (Darth Maul: Apprentice) was an absolute epic watch. You tied things in really well with your version of The Phantom Menace. One of my favorite parts about Darth Maul in your version was the way you handled the effects on his lightsaber. It was extremely visceral and aggressive looking...just like Maul himself. What was the inspiration behind that choice?
Cooper: In short, because it looked badass. Crylo Ren had a similar design in the Force Awakens, and it just looked really cool. You'll notice how his (Maul) blades were normal in the beginning. That was to convey that he was still in training and became a full Sith Lord with a new Lightsaber with the fiery blades, which were two different effects, once he killed the Jedi in the forest
Honor The Force: I did notice that. It was a good change and it DID look badass.
The humor that was inserted throughout your edit came out of nowhere. It was a legitimate surprise to see this sort of thing contained in a Star Wars film. Why did you decide to take the path of using an almost "Monty Pythonesque" type of satire in your fan edit? Is this an extension of your natural personality?
Cooper: That was a surprise, wasn’t it? Well, the thing is, most other fan-edits tend to stray away from what they actually are. Typically, and I know there’s hundreds out there, a fan-edit is just a different interpretation of the movie, as opposed to just adding your own things that you like in it. I’m fully aware that the music in the scene where (spoiler alert) Qui-Gon Jinn dies is not from Star Wars. Most other fan-edits wouldn’t even fathom that type of play because that’s actually EDITING that scene. It’s making it different as opposed to making it more like the original trilogy, like most fan-edits do. And it’s not that I have a problem with that kind of editing, but I just thought that adding my own groove to it would be innovative in the fan-editing industry. No one has the audacity to add a subtitle where R2D2 makes a joke about 9/11 as well as break the fourth wall about how terrible a deleted scene looks in a movie that still has scenes that take itself seriously. And yes, that fits my personality exactly. I’m a sarcastic a-hole who loves to poke fun at just about everything. I have very few boundaries. You’ll see a LOT more of that in the future installments of this franchise.
Honor The Force: There was a lot of comic relief dealing with R2D2. Are you an R2 fan? What was your inspiration behind this?
Cooper: I'm more of a 3PO guy, really. I noticed that when he first appeared in Episode VII, I suddenly began to sweat profusely from my eyeballs. It was the weirdest thing. But he (R2D2) was just the easiest one to make subtitles for since he has more "dialogue" then most other characters who didn't speak English/Basic.
Honor The Force: How did you get into video editing in the first place? What has inspired you to pursue this creative art?
Cooper: Oh boy. Now we’re going WAY back in time. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…there lived a Hobbit… Sorry. i was getting ahead of myself there. Video editing became a hobby of mine starting in seventh grade. At the time, there was a trend with all the ‘cool’ kids called ‘jerking’. It was like a break-dancing-esque trend that was pretty popular on the streets. I attended a school that had a relatively large…uhm…how do I say this and still be politically correct…let’s just go with hood…a relatively large ‘hood’ population. So ‘jerking’ was a pretty popular thing at my school and all the ‘cool kids’ were getting into it. A lot of people were actually pretty talented in this thing, and they were able to spread their talent across the web through videos. I thought I’d start to put myself into this gig and learned very basic video editing through Windows Live Movie Maker. And, to be honest, my videos weren’t that bad. I know Movie Maker is more limited than Leonardo DiCaprio when it comes to results, but I made a few neat techniques to work around it. And then I got Adobe Premiere Pro and things just went uphill from there.
Honor The Force: What are your plans for the future film edits? Is there anything specific you can share with us?
Cooper: I plan to release all seven movies. Attack of the Clones will come out sometime next month. Right now I'm working on a non-Star Wars related project for another franchise. I don't mind telling you but it's confidential.
Honor The Force: What’s cooking? What is the edit?
Cooper: ***-CENSORED DUE TO CONFIDENTIALITY-***
Honor The Force: Lol...what?!?!? We definitely gotta see that one.
Cooper: You will. Be patient.
***(At this point, I’m pretty sure Cooper momentarily went in Dr. Evil mode)***
Honor The Force: Who or what are your creative influences?
Cooper: Star Wars. That's the answer. Star Wars has inspired almost everything I do.
Honor The Force: Who's your favorite character in Star Wars? Why?
Cooper: Qui-Gon Jinn. I love his character because he's a lot more than he seems. On the outside, he's a wise, reserved man. However, what most people tend to overlook is that he sees no one as his authority. He does his own thing regardless of what anyone else says, and will make very risky moves to do what he feels is right. Liam Neeson captures this with such utter perfection that I find it to be an Oscar worthy performance. No one else could've pulled off that role.
Honor The Force: Excellent answer. I agree with you. Qui-Gon gets a lot of unnecessary hate (similar to Boba Fett) because he was killed off so easily against Maul. It's nice to see someone else who recognizes his worth to the franchise.
Here's a scenario for you...You're on Coruscant, looking to have a good time and get in some experiences worth telling stories about. Who's your wingman? Who do want watching your back? What're your plans for a night on the town?
Cooper: Let's see...my wingman would definitely be Yoda. He seems like he would know how to have a good time while still remaining professional. His personality is fleshed out a lot more in the Clone Wars when he basically says to Anakin "you break the rules all the time, so breaking me out of this should be easy for you."
As the one watching my back...oh boy. That'd be a tough one because Yoda would pretty much already have my back...but I'd go with Qui-Gon. Not because he's my favorite character, but because I've always been curious about his relationship with Yoda and I'd like to see them interact. Besides he also seems like the type of guy who I could tell that I just warped from Earth from billions of light years away and have no idea how it happened, he'd probably believe me.
And all I’d want to do is check out how similar their culture is to my culture, and tell the citizens how much similar and different it is just to see their reactions of fascination. I wonder if they have football in Star Wars? Well…actual Star Wars. In my version, there certainly is, as you could see during the pod race and as many might see as a little Easter egg in Episode II.
Honor The Force: How has being a Star Wars fan been a positive influence on your life?
Cooper: It just has. It's inspired almost everything I've ever done. I grew up with Star Wars. I'll live with Star Wars and I'll die with Star Wars. Kinda like Han Solo. LOL.
***(See what I mean about the Dr. Evil reference?)***
Honor The Force: That's cold.
Cooper: Not as cold as STARKILLER BASE. LOLOLOLOLOLOL
Honor The Force: …..(sigh)…..
For more information regarding Cooper or his fan edits you may find him lurking among the various Star Wars groups on Facebook or you can just view his work here…