Rogue Code: A Q&A With “Jedi Junkies” Documentary Director Mark Edlitz.

Photo: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980).. © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980).. © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Rogue Code is a series of Q&As conducted with members of the Star Wars galaxy exclusively for Dork Side of the Force. 

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. OK, it was not a long time ago, but it was 10 years ago when the feature documentary Jedi Junkies was released in theaters. The 75-minute feature documentary was one of the first to take an intimate look at the fans of Star Wars and how the stories had factored into the lives of the interview subjects.

Dork Side of the Force sat down with the Writer, Director, and Producer of the film Mark Edlitz to revisit the film 10 years later, discuss his overall passion for Star Wars, and what he was up to next.

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DORK SIDE OF THE FORCE: How did the idea first come about to do this documentary? 

MR. MARK EDLITZ: Prior to Jedi Junkies, I had done a film with my producing partner Jerry Kolber called The Eden Myth. We toured all the festivals, South by Southwest, Martin Scorsese’s First Look, Chicago Underground, Rotterdam, Cannes market, and the like and we even won some awards. We did this for a year. It was a great experience but it was hard to get funding and distribution. For our second movie, we wanted to come up with a plan where we didn’t need to ask for permission to make it and where we could work on our own timetable. But it had to be something that we were passionate about. Films take years to make so you have to love your subject matter. We both loved Star Wars and fandom is inherently interesting. Thus the idea for Jedi Junkies was born.

DSOF: Every Star Wars fan has this one memory in common: tell us about the first time you were exposed to Star Wars overall?

MARK: My sister Tracy had seen it without me and was raving about it, but I couldn’t get anyone to take me to see it. Finally, my Grandma Jeanne took me to see it in Riverdale, New York and I was immediately blown away. When Empire and Return of the Jedi came out, my passion for the Star Wars universe only grew larger with each film.

DSOF: We went back and re-watched Jedi Junkies. You interviewed by our count at least 20 people in the film who made Star Wars part of their life. This included musicians, collectors, film makers, cosplay participants and even lightsaber makers. Where did you find all these people?

MARK: Ten years ago, I wasn’t aware of any other film that looked at Star Wars fandom and looked at the franchise from a fan’s point of view.  Today, there are many great ones. But at the time there was just Trekkies, the film about Star Trek but for some reason Star Wars had not been widely done yet. It’s a big reason why I decided to make Jedi Junkies.

So getting subjects to interview took some time. We had to get interview subjects to trust us in telling their story. I understand why someone would be skeptical. They wouldn’t want someone to take their quotes out of context.  But after we met one person, we got some momentum. One fan would tell us about another and so on and so on. For instance, one fan told us a man who built a life-sized Millennium Falcon in his backyard.  Once we heard that story, we knew we needed to track him down. So we were able to get this deep and varied field of people that were experiencing Star Wars in their own unique way. With my editor Stephen Walker, we shot and edited the film as we went. It was a great way to see what we had and what we still needed.

DSOF: Was there one person that you interviewed that really shocked you in the film? 

MARK: I don’t think I was shocked per say, but what I was so happy with their honesty and humor that people were using to tell their story. So, in turn, we tried to show care in how people were depicted. One of the collectors we profiled was a very sweet, very intelligent man, but he was willing to tell us all about his collecting obsession – warts and all. He trusted us with that part of his story, as much as he did in showing us his incredible collection. I loved all of those stories across the film.

DSOF: Have you given any thought to doing a follow-up documentary either on the people that were in the film originally or all of the Star Wars content that came out after your documentary?

MARK:  Everyone once in a while, I think it might be interesting to follow up with them and look at how fandom has changed. But it’s probably best to leave well enough alone. I am so proud of Jedi Junkies and what we did there. The fact that you are calling me 10 years later after the film is released is really special to me. But I have other projects that I’m working on and other great stories to tell, so I’ll let Jedi Junkies stand on its own. I’m very proud of the film we made.

DSOF: In part of the documentary, you as a filmmaker are talking to other filmmakers about making a Star Wars fan film, of which you in turn were making a Star Wars fan film. That had to be fun and weird and an out of body experience in some way?

MARK: For sure. The fan filmmakers are really inventive. They are using Star Wars as a platform or outlet to get their work, their passion noticed. Some people use it as a calling card to the industry. Other people were making fan films for the pure joy of it and the desire to be part of that world. There are so many different ways to express your interest in Star Wars and your other passions.

DSOF: Peter Mayhew had a quote in the film which we loved “every time you come to a convention you make new friends.” Do you agree with that sentiment?

MARK: One hundred percent agree. These conventions are like a family reunion. I was going to Star Wars, comic book, and sci-fi conventions large and small long before I had the idea for Jedi Junkies. The only difference was that I was now bringing a video camera with me (Laughter).

DSOF: What are some of the recent projects you have been up to that readers of Dork Side of the Force might also be interested in?

MARK: Last year I wrote a book called The Many Lives Of James Bond, a collection of original interviews with actors who have played Bond in all sorts of different media – from movies, television shows, novels, radio dramas, comic books, and video games. A few years before that, I wrote a book called How To Be A Superhero where I interviewed the actors and actress who played some of the most iconic superheroes over the last 70 years. It includes interviews with those that played Spider-Man, Captain America, Hulk, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, and a host of others. In both cases, I was trying to ask the performers the kinds of questions that fans want to know. The book is a look at how being a superhero has personally changed their life. It asks the question what is really like to suit up and be a superhero?

DSOF: Final question – the galaxy is yours. What do you want to say to the readers of Dork Side of the Force and the entire Star Wars universe?

MARK: Star Wars has been a really wonderful and exciting part of my life. It was great to look at it through the eyes of all of these amazing, wonderful fans so I thank you all.

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