See How The Star Wars Holiday Special Came to Be in a Brand New Documentary

See How The Star Wars Holiday Special Came to Be in a Brand New Documentary
A crop of the poster for A Disturbance in the Force by Dani Tenerelli. (Image: Dani Tenerelli)

The Star Wars Holiday Special is one of the most mysterious and intriguing pieces in all of Star Wars history. Released after A New Hope, but before The Empire Strikes Back, the bizarre variety show was unlike anything fans had ever seen or would ever see again. After its release, George Lucas famously tried to erase the special from existence which only raised more questions about it. Now, answers to many of those are coming, thanks to a brand new documentary.

Gizmodo is excited to announce that directors Jeremy Coon and Steve Kozak are making a film called A Disturbance in the Force, which will tell the behind-the-scenes story of the making of the Star Wars Holiday Special. And what better day than today to announce it? It’s Life Day and we’re excited to exclusively debut the first trailer for the documentary.

“Most attention on the Holiday Special just focuses on how bad it is and doesn’t go deeper,” Coon told Gizmodo over email. “Our film is not going to be 90 minutes of dumping on it because no one wants to watch that. We’re gone really deep in the research and like an onion, there are a lot more layers as to how the Special happened than you would expect.”

While the documentary is currently being edited and there are still interviews to conduct, Coon and Kozak say they’ve already talked to basically every living crew member who was willing to discuss it. And most were. “Most of the crew are proud not only of the special but of the TV variety genre that so few know about today, so they enjoy reminiscing about it,” Kozak said. They were even able to unearth some rare audio recording that will bring people who’ve recently passed away to the film.

“We were also able to find a never before released audio interview with Peter Mayhew talking about the Special along with over 15 hours of audio interviews recorded over twenty years ago with over a dozen people who worked on the Holiday Special,” Coon said. “The recordings include others who passed away that we thought we’d never be able to give a voice in the film.”

A behind the scenes photo from the filming of the Special. (Photo: Larry Heider) A behind the scenes photo from the filming of the Special. (Photo: Larry Heider)

As for the people who appeared in the film, Coon and Kozak say they reveal some truly memorable and unforgettable stuff. When asked for a good example, Coon said “Writer Lenny Ripps said that Lucas told him that in Han Solo’s backstory he was married to a wookiee, but that audiences weren’t ready to hear that at that time.” Spoiler alert: We still aren’t.

Whether or not that’s true, we don’t know but the team is hoping to find out. The directors still want to add a few interviews, with extra interest in big stars like Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, or Jon Favreau (that latter being a huge fan who references the special liberally in The Mandalorian). Then, of course, there’s George Lucas too. “[He’s] definitely a long shot, but you never know until you ask,” Coon said.

The directors also emphasised that their movie, unlike others, puts the Special in much needed context. Something people don’t get from bootleg VHS tapes or secret YouTube links.

“We put it in proper context — against the backdrop of the TV-variety genre to see it from the eyes that produced it,” Kozak said. “If you saw the Special when it aired in 1978, you probably liked it. If you saw it for the first time — or saw it again 25 years later on after the launch of YouTube — it was quite jarring.”

Co-director Steve Kozak with Holiday Special costume designer Bob Mackie. (Photo: J.P. Morgan) Co-director Steve Kozak with Holiday Special costume designer Bob Mackie. (Photo: J.P. Morgan)

“It’s still part of Star Wars history and helped make it was it is today,” Coon said. “We should embrace the franchise’s adolescence and have a laugh about how far the franchise has come.”

Produced by Fanboys director Kyle Newman and Goldbergs creator Adam F. Goldberg, work on A Disturbance in the Force is ongoing. The dream would be for them to debut it on Disney+ along with the full special, but everyone knows that’s unlikely.

“That might be a tall order, but I think if there’s enough demand from fans, it could happen,” Coon said. “[Either way] we expect the full film to be available sometime next year and definitely in time for the celebration of Life Day 2021.”

For more information the film visit the official site.