Between 1999 and 2009 Lightsabre.co.uk brought news, fanfic, podcasts and much, much more to the masses. Our fifty-fourth guest worked with Moby, is a member of the American Film Institute and directed the fan film The Trial of Han Solo – Paul Yates.
Lightsabre – Paul, welcome to Lightsabre.
PY – It’s truly, sincerely terrific to be here-thank you for your interest in my work/world.
Lightsabre – To coincide with the release of Revenge of the Sith you released The Trial of Han Solo, a very deft parody on not only that scene between Han and Greedo but George Lucas’ policy of revisiting his previous works and altering them. But what specifically inspired you to visit this particular moment of Star Wars history?
PY – Well there has to be a bit of going back in time for this which is very appropriate for right this moment (is that anachronistic?) anyway…when I was in 4th grade, my uncle I was at a day trip to the beach with my school. At about 2.30pm my uncle Jimmy found me at the beach and took me out of school for the rest of the day because he had “just seen the best movie ever made”. That was in 1977-the film was Star Wars and I was ten. We stayed through two shows because my brother and mother joined us for the 7pm showing. That summer I saw the film more than 20 times and even made my own sequel to it using my super 8 camera and the action figures in which firecrackers blow up Luke’s x-wing-Darth and Luke crash land on my bedroom floor and fight-Luke loses his hand in the saber battle and Darth trips and falls on Luke’s saber…..it was very appropriate that both Georgie boy Lucas and my uncle Jimmy where at my graduation.
Lightsabre – Tell us something of your career. Where did you begin in film and what led you to your membership of the AFI?
PY – Like I said above – super 8 and Star Wars were very instrumental in my early film career. I also built my own still camera at age 8 – I was always a visual artist. In high school I would make 16mm films about suicide and dancing-I was fast friends with Moby and we would make films together-I would be heavy on the visuals-Moby on the music. My first video was on MTV in 1988. I made the first few videos for Moby. Had success in the short film circuit-then shot the feature documentary MODULATIONS about the history of electronic music-then Moby produced my first feature that I wrote directed and shot: ALIEN SEX PARTY… a comedy about a porno shop on Christmas eve. I had success in the indie film world but wanted to go to finishing school. What lead me to the American Film Institute was Gill Dennis, David Lynch, Martha Coolidge, Terry Mallick, Jim McBride, Aza Jacobs and others who went or taught there-It was\is the only film school that I would have attended as an adult.
Lightsabre – Anything connected to the saga makes it’s creators part of a larger world, so what is it like to be a part of the Star Wars phenomenon?
PY – It feels strange because I feel like I have a say in how I should be able to remember my own past – And as a filmmaker I use my tools to let Mr. Lucas know that although I respect his ever changing vision-I wish to also point out that many people were affected by earlier versions and to make those public and not destroy a part of history.
Lightsabre – Your past works include videos for Moby. How did that collaboration come about?
PY – Like I said- Moby and I met when we were 15 and were fast friends, Punks and Surrealists. The Pork Guys were three best friends Moby, Me, and Tarquin. We all played the instruments that we felt we were worst at-only that way could we create anything that was good or new or anarchic or surreal. We have an entire album that was produced by Peter Katis (Producer of Interpol) and we are just waiting for someone to make us release it.
Lightsabre – Your site oniongod.com is irreverent and fun. How involved are you with its design and upkeep?
PY – oniongod.com was a site created by Mark Sieler. I did not know it existed at first-he was a fan of Moby then became a fan of my work. One day I discovered oniongod.com and contacted Mark, praying he was not a stalker…and he was not. He just sincerely liked my work. So we collaborated to make the site bigger and better. Sadly Mark took his own life this past Christmas (2005) and I still feel the loss.
PY – You may not like this but I am a first three purist-and by first three I mean Star Wars, Empire, and Jedi. The others don’t thrill me entirely-and I can’t get over what I feel to be the slightly racist undertones of some of the characters. I will wait for George’s experimental film he promised us at AFI that he was making after Indiana Jones 4.
Lightsabre – You seem to be slanted in the direction of pursuing your directorial efforts, so will that still leave room for your music interests?
PY – Music is a great way to express yourself without the massive time commitment that film takes-I am in a new band called Schaumgummi where I sing all in mix of German and English and never let on that I am American I say that I am Falco’s protégé.
Lightsabre – Which of the myriad Star Wars characters do you feel the most affinity for?
PY – Boba Fett and R2-D2- I believe I am a mix of the two.
Lightsabre – Tell us something of your other interests outside of film and music?
PY – I have been a Vegan since 1989- I love to play Kickball which is like baseball mixed with soccer and is inclusive in that a six year old and a 36 year old can score just as easily- I am also an avid “boother” I adore the photo booth machine- and have been taking pictures since my homeless days when I was 15 through today and have about sixteen thousand.
Lightsabre – On your site you wrote an amazingly powerful piece on the events of September 11th 2001 and your feelings towards it, along with a set of evocative photo booth images to accompany it. Many around the world were inspired to create, or vent their feelings on the events of that day. What made you decide to express your feelings in prose?
PY – I wrote a letter to myself on the plane ride over the ground zero site-I had no choice. Later that week a friend of mine painted pictures of people jumping off of the towers and they were shocking but not exploitive- he needed to get those images out of him-I had to do the same but made it personal by inserting myself into the head of a survivor of that day.
Lightsabre – What lies ahead for you in the future?
PY – I am finishing my AFI thesis film entitled Onion Underwater about a woman that awakens, five minutes in the future, with no memory. After that I plan on making a long form science fiction film based on the short.
Lightsabre – A quick question about our site Lightsabre. Any comments?
PY – Your site is the most comprehensive site on Star Wars that I have ever seen. You get an ‘A’ for research. You are also smart and very kind to have me. I feel honored. Thank you.
Lightsabre – It’s been a great interview, and thanks for being our guest on Lightsabre. Just one final question. Moby, one of the Pork Guys and Greedo are in a hot air balloon, flying high across the Atlantic to a convention in France. Suddenly the balloon loses pressure and the basket begins to shake. They realise they need to lose some weight in order to complete their trip. Who gets dumped over the basket?
PY – I would say that Moby would have to be dumped over- I think he can fly on his own anyway…and poor Greedo has been through enough.
This interview was originally posted on lightsabre.co.uk on 8th October 2006.