Posted on Friday, September 18th, 2015 by Peter Sciretta
Summer ’78 is a short film that played at Disney’s Star Wars Weekends 2015. The filmmaker says the short film is “about the power of imagination.” At its core, the Summer 78 short film is about a young boy growing up in the late 1970s, playing with his favorite Star Wars toys, creating short 8mm movies with elaborate recreations in his backyard. Hit the jump to watch the Summer 78 short film now.
I wasn’t alive in 1978, but I relate to the story at the core of this short film. I think anyone who has grown up with Star Wars toys can somewhat relate, maybe not to the 8mm filmmaking component, but to the magic of play and the imagination of childhood. I grew up during there VHS revolution, and even then not everything was available in your living room and recreating your favorite moments from films you saw on the big screen in your backyard was as good as it got.
Yes, Summer 78 is very nostalgic and cheesy and I’m not going to try to make excuses for it, but if you’re a Star Wars fan, its definitely worth watching. And if you start watching, make sure you make it all the way to the ending to find out how the story turns out — I don’t want to spoil it for you as its a fun homage.
The short film is directed by J.C. Reifenberg, who is a director/producer on the Star Wars news update webseries The Comlink and has directed and produced a bunch of Kevin Smith projects like Jay & Silent Bob Get Old and Yoga Hosers. The short is produced by James Arnold Taylor, a prolific voice actor who you might know as the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi and others in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. And I also love the Summer ’78 poster illustrated by Chris Dee. The voice of the mom in the short is provided by Catherine Taber, the voice of Padme Amidala in the animated series. =
Okay lets talk spoilers….
Yes, the boy at the center of this short film’s story is supposed to be J.J. Abrams, the director of the highly anticipated next installment of the Star Wars saga Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Reifenberg debuted the short online on Mashable and revealed that he grew up in the same part of Los Angeles as Abrams and shot the short in that area. Some of the short’s fun easter eggs include:
- Darth Vader using a very 1978 cocktail stick for a lightsaber, which conveniently also happens to look just like Kylo Ren’s cross-bladed lightsaber from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
- The Super 8 camera, which Abrams used as a child and was featured in his film Super 8.
- Tannen’s mystery box sits behind the cityscape, a reference to the magic box given to JJ as a young boy.
- The Starship Enterprise, a reference to the two Star Trek films he directed.
- JJ’s signature lens flares
- The boy’s dog is named “Robot”, which is why he yells “Bad Robot!” (the name of Abrams’ production company) at the conclusion of the short.
- Astroids, a reference to Abrams’ first blockbuster movie writing gig on Michael Bay’s Armageddon
- The dinosaur falls into a patch of three-leaf clovers, a reference to the Bad Robot produced film Cloverfield.
- Han, Leia and Luke fall down a “secret hatch”, the blue VW bus and the numbers on the cardboard buildings are all references to the JJ Abrams produced tv series LOST. Lost hatch.
- During the credits: Princess Leia in disguise in a red wig is a reference to the JJ tv series Alias.
- There are also Fringe and Mission Impossible easter eggs.
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