Return of the Smuggler is the second installment in the Spoof Wars: Tales of the Jebi film series, preceded by Shadows of the Democracy and concluded in Dark Equilibrium. Production began in late 2008, but was halted and subsequently scrapped. Production restarted in late 2010 including filming alongside Dark Equilibrium in HD.
It will be released...when it's done.
Official DescriptionIn Return of the Smuggler, a follow-up to Shadows of the Democracy, the heroes go on a quest to locate the bounty hunter, Rhast, and more importantly his employer. Their search leads them to a space station on the outer reaches of known space. As Typhon grapples with his own enigmatic past, Guy-Gone comes under the scrutiny of the Jebi Council. Reunited with the ever-in-debt smuggler Shawn Duet, the group finds that there is no safe place for them anymore. Can our heroes escape the station alive?
- Guy-Gone Weird .... Matt Gilbert
- Typhon .... Tyler Stacey
- Sprint Render .... Wes Stacey
- Shawn Duet .... Jonathan Consiglio
- ??? .... Ryan Murphy
- Exor Kruun .... Eric Kaldenbach
- Only-One Cannotbe .... Sean Stewart
- Barkeep .... Eric Kaldenbach
- Olmec Qel-Drona .... Chris Patton
- Rig'ur Mortuus .... Eric Kaldenbach
- Maigus .... Matthew Shackelford
- Yoshi Katano .... Bryonna Stacey
- N'Clear Wessel .... Emily Van Pelt
- Fengar .... Jenny Gilbert
- Captain Trends .... Chris Patton
- Durus Fiott .... not cast
- Polarm .... not cast
- Bioculus .... Andrew Kaldenbach
- Spiff Guards .... ???
- Skek'tacious Speck (V.O.) .... Tyler Stacey
- Nexus Station Ad Voice .... Stephanie Stacey
- Dev .... Matt Wetmore
- Nack .... Matthew Shackelford
- N'Clear Wessel
- Unnamed Bounty Hunter 1
- Unnamed Bounty Hunter 2
- Unnamed Bounty Hunter 3
- Unnamed Bounty Hunter 4
- Unnamed Bounty Hunter Sniper
- Olmec Qel-Drona (appears as spirit)
- Only-One Cannotbe
- Yoshi Katano
- Rig'ur Mortuus
- Spiff Guard
- Skek'tacious Speck
- Captain Craig Trends
- Durus Fiott
- Dharth Deceivious (mentioned only)
- Tsah R'Mai (mentioned only)
- Syphon (appears in vision)
- Unidentified Spacefleet Dockmaster
- Cypress III
- Caltoh Nimrodia (mentioned only)
- Twilight Station
- Slobterrel (mentioned only)
- Rusty Eagle
- Blunt Dagger
- Unnamed Security Ship
- Dharth Bob's personal Ship
- D.S.X. Machina
- Eon Vulture (Mentioned only)
- Search for Rhast
Organizations and titles
- Bounty hunter
- Dark Jebi
- Galactic Democracy
- Jebi Order
- Order of the Spiff Lords
- Twilight Station
Behind the Scenes
As early as 2007, the idea had started floating around to do a follow-up to Shadows of the Democracy. Once it was decided that there should be a final short film installment that had a rematch with Rhast and a reveal of his employer, work was started on a single follow-up called Dark Equilibrium.
Early on, Return of the Smuggler and Dark Equilibrium were simply one script, which would run approximately 30 minutes if made. The story had the heroes regrouping and facing Rhast again on another planet, where it would reveal his employer. As additional scenes were added to Shadows of the Democracy, several subplots were introduced, including Guy-Gone's frustration with the Council and his tendency to crash ships, and Typhon's encounter with the symbiocolate. It was then decided that the story needed the characters to go somewhere in search of Rhast before he could be found. Rather than another planet, a space station seemed like a nice change of pace.
Rushed Early Filming
Production began early on the Mini-DV camera as a desire to film any scenes set on Cypress III while filming the additional Shadows scenes. In the late summer of 2007, Ryan was presented with a potential job out-of-state. All scenes involving Ryan had to be immediately shot in case he did have to move. The scenes were shot at Great Plains Nature Center, and turned out relatively well, despite the script still being in a state of flux. Ultimately Ryan was not impressed with the job and passed. Production stopped again for busy school and work schedules until the summer of 2008, when it was discovered that a large green screen was available for use. Around the same time, Matt got a new HD camera that ran off a hard-drive. The question was now posed as to whether the film should be made partly in HD and partly on Mini-DV, completed in Mini-DV, or completely in HD, re-doing the earlier Mini-DV footage. In the late summer, the green screen studio became available and the crew decided to film with the HD camera, as well as 2 more Ryan was able to obtain from his workplace. Scenes included Rhast, Dharth Bob, Typhon, Only-One and Bounty Hunters.
Earlier, the script for Dark Equilibrium became quite large at around 40 pages, and the idea was thrown out that if need be, the film could be split in the middle to form a trilogy. However, there was no clear end to the first half, or any kind of battle to make it interesting. Everything changed in fall of 2008, when Jonathan was shown Typhon, the current version of Shadows of the Democracy, and the available footage from Dark Equilibrium. He became very excited and asked if it was too late to be involved in some way. Production took another pause as the script was re-written to include Shawn Duet, now re-united with the crew on the space station. This rewrite also allowed the opportunity to add more to the space station scenes, including a "rented room" scene, a battle with bounty hunters, and an escape from the station. Many of the comedic lines originally given to the other three characters were redistributed to Shawn Duet. Additional new filming featuring Shawn Duet followed during a large filming session where nearly every scene in the Rusty Eagle involving the main heroes was filmed. Additional footage was filmed in Wes' apartment and at the location for Shadows while finishing all remaining filming for that movie in the spring and summer of 2009.
During the summer of 2009, it was finally decided that Dark Equilibrium had gotten far too long to be a single sequel, and the film would be split in two, with the second half being called Dark Equilibrium. Ideas were tossed around for the name of the first half and friends both local and online were asked. Finally it was decided that the focus on Shawn Duet's return lead to the logical title: Return of the Smuggler. The script was officially split in two and a new ending was crafted for Return, while a large flashback was repositioned to be the opening of Dark Equilibrium. It was also finally decided to keep these two films completely HD, meaning that as much as the crew liked the earlier footage with Ryan, it would have to be re-filmed.
Even More Delays
School and work in 2009 once again slowed the production process, though editing had come along quite a ways. However, the biggest delay came in October of 2009 when Matt's computer spontaneously died. Fortunately all project files were saved onto an external hard drive, but the computer was going to be out for repairs for a week - or so Best Buy claimed. Instead, the computer had to be shipped off to Texas to be repaired. After 3 weeks of waiting, the computer returned, and still didn't work. It was taken in a second time and "repaired", then a third and there were still major problems. After over a month and a half of problems and waiting, Matt and his dad pushed Best Buy to replace the computer completely. The new computer was better, however it crashed when trying to view the Spoof Wars video project files. The problem wasn't fixed until spring of 2010, with the installation of an all-new Adobe Production Suite. Finally, filming, production and editing could resume.
The spring and summer of 2010 saw the return of Sean to the project, who helped organize and coordinate the mess of films that had developed because of the various delays. It was decided to spend the summer working on costumes, finalizing the scripts and preparing for The Plot Strikes Back. Filming did not fully resume, however, until March 2011. Aaron was no longer available, and another big rewrite was needed to replace Rhast. Eric took over as Exor, and filming started again with his fight with Syphon. Several filming sessions continued through the spring, summer and early fall.
Filming continued on all films through 2013 at Sean's apartment, and later house - the new home of the green screens. To simplify filming sessions and get the most from each person/character, filming sessions were centered around characters rather than movies, so scenes could be filmed from all the projects in one filming. While this delayed the release of any particular movie, it did help with cohesiveness significantly, and made the best use of the rare free time.
Editing began as early as the first filming with Ryan, and continued every time something was filmed. The toughest aspect of both HD short films was that many scenes required several character at once, but only some were available for filming. Because it was mostly green screened, parts of scenes were shot with the available actor, which made editing difficult until the other part(s) were filmed.
- Return of the Smuggler on SpoofWarsFilms.com