Why Fanboys director never gave up, never surrendered

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Kyle Newman, director of the upcoming Star Wars-themed Fanboys, told SCI FI Wire that it took patience and resilience to survive the extensive reworking the film underwent en route to its release. At various points, the Weinstein Co. wanted the movie cut, reshot and reworked—and even brought in a second director to shoot new footage.

Ultimately, though, Newman was allowed to complete the movie largely on his own terms. "I never lost faith, even when it was in its darkest hour, that it would somehow come back to us," Newman said in an exclusive interview with SCI FI Wire in Los Angeles last week. "I just knew they were on the wrong path. I knew one way or another, eventually, maybe years later, they would be, 'Go do your cut.'"

Set in 1998, Fanboys follows a group of Star Wars fans who decide to sneak into George Lucas' Northern California Skywalker Ranch to steal a print of Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace months before release so that their terminally ill friend will have a chance to see it.

After Newman completed the film several years ago, executive producer Harvey Weinstein balked at the movie's dark elements, particularly the storyline involving a key character's cancer. He hired director Steven Brill to reshoot portions of the movie and change the story substantially. Years went by, release dates came and went, and still the movie remained unreleased. (It opens Feb. 6.)

Eventually—and after vociferous fan protests—Newman was asked back to recut the movie and incorporate his original movie with Brill's footage. Newman said that integrating the two versions required him to take a few steps back, but he nevertheless held on to his original concept for the film. "I just stuck to a single vision of it, and every time there was an incarnation, I just looked at it, very egoless and objective," he said.

"I looked at it very objectively: What's the best stuff and from each different screening?" Newman said. "I made notes. And so when I got a chance to go back in and cut the film, I felt like I was making the most definitive, best version we possibly could out of what we had at our disposal."

Newman added that the long process allowed him to restore scenes that were initially removed. "Sometimes they were putting things back in that I wanted originally when everyone was like, 'Take that out,'" Newman said. "I was like, 'Now I can put it back in, [because] you like it now.' I think it was just being open and really clear and positive, never throwing in the towel and knowing it would somehow fall back in our laps."