Star Wars is a franchise that inspires, enthrals, and entertains people around the world. It is such a cultural phenomenon that often, fans themselves take storytelling into their own hands. With such a massive universe to play with, there’s huge scope for fans who want to tell a story within the expansive Star Wars lore.
Despite restrictive licenses and copyright issues, many fan-produced films and short videos have attracted millions of views. Some, quite controversially, are viewed as better than official Disney-licensed productions. Free of restrictive corporate management and the responsibility of a world-renowned brand, some of the best Star Wars fan films are full of the creative energy required to really excite fans and capture the spirit of the franchise.
In no particular order, here are the best Star Wars fan films on the ‘net…
DARTH MAUL: Apprentice
Popularity: 26 million views. Running time: 17:48
Darth Maul, despite only being in The Phantom Menace for a relatively short period, is one of the franchises’ most recognisable and revered characters. His mysterious nature, use of a double-bladed saber and striking physical appearance left fans wanting more.
Step in DARTH MAUL: Apprentice, directed by Shawn Bu. Released in 2016 and taking 2 years to create, the 17 minute film is heavily focused on lightsaber battles as a team of Jedi try and take down Sidious’ Zabrak apprentice.
Why we love it: We’re all about combat sabers – so any fan film that features great lightsaber combat is going to be something we talk about. There are some great moments in this film that we don’t want to spoil, but needless to say if you liked Maul’s acrobatic double-bladed style in the official films you’ll love it here.
KENOBI – A Star Wars Fan Film
Popularity: 4.7 million views. Running time: 18:47
Little is made of Owen and Beru Lars’ connection to Obi-Wan in the main franchise. In this fan film, which stars Jamie Costa doing an uncanny impression of Ewan McGregor’s Kenobi, we see how the Jedi outcast keeps watch over the Lars’ household. We also see that Luke’s guardians are not the fragile, helpless farmers they may seem.
Most of all, though, we get to see a near picture perfect recreation of the atmosphere of Tatooine from the OT.
Why we love it: there’s a lot of force action going on in this one – but really we love it most because of the nostalgia the Tatooine setting brings. Tusken raiders near the beginning help cement the feeling that we’re watching an extended scene between the prequels and OT.
DARK JEDI – A Star Wars Fan Film
Popularity: 1.5 million views. Running time: 5:01
Okay, so the acting in this isn’t great. The main actors are German but speak in English, which leads to some corny-sounding lines. But the lightsaber duel in this is perhaps the best of any fan film – and it’s even better than some in the official franchise. Choreographed to perfection and shot in an autumnal Berlin forest, the lightsaber sound effects are incredible and the storyline is engaging. Plus it’s only 5 minutes of your time to witness some fabulous duelling and really, why are you even reading this if that’s too much?
Why we love it: the choreography is amazing in this. A two-man battle made entirely by fans has never looked so great.
Hoshino – Star Wars Fan Film
Popualrity: 3.9 million views. Running time: 7:02
We all know lightsabers are cool – but in this fan film, the lore of sabers is explored more heavily. As a padawan trains with her master, they discuss the ethos of a lightsaber: “it is a sword that can be turned off.”
We then flash-forward in time to see the assembly of a saber – a huge moment for any Jedi, but one that has particular poignancy here as the protagonist has lost her sight. How? You’ll find out when you watch it – but needless to say, it’s a lesson in not rushing in your training and a reminder of the power of lightsabers.
Like the protagonist of this fan film, you can build your own saber with our Saber Builder™ lightsaber creator.
Why we love it: rarely has the creation of a saber been such a focal moment in the main franchise. Here, we get a backstory that makes the assembly of the saber poignant and the use of it even more so.
VADER EPISODE 1: SHARDS OF THE PAST – A Star Wars Theory Fan Film
Popularity: 19.2 million views. Running time: 16:18
Darth Vader is a tragic character – seduced by the dark side and misled to be used as a tool by emperor Palpatine. In this fan film, we see Vader’s heartbreak and memories explored in detail. His conflicted relationship with his master is drawn out throughout this film, which also boasts incredible special effects that make it look as good as the actual franchise. Vader’s mission in this short is to find a certain purple-blade wielder…who could that be?
Everything about this film is a love letter to Star Wars. Unfortunately, the sequel to it is not yet released so the main conflict between the exile Jedi and Vader has not yet graced YouTube. Luckily, fans don’t need to wait long – the sequel is due for release in December 2020.
Why we love it: Darth Vader explored in more detail. What’s not to love?
There are many, many more exceptional fan films out there – but these are our favourite in terms of lightsaber and force combat scenes. If you’ve got more time to indulge in fan versions, the gritty portrayal of stormtroopers in Bucketheads: A STAR WARS story and awesome lightsaber combat in The Last Padawan: A Short Star Wars Story should also be added to your list.