Adam Green (Hatchet) Talks J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens

A lifelong fan of George Lucas' galaxy far, far away says a wholehearted "YES" to J.J. Abrams' new addition to the saga.

Writer/director/producer/actor Adam Green slashed his way on the big screen in 2006 with his second feature film, Hatchet (his first, Coffee & Donuts, was made for $400 but never officially released) which secured his place amongst the horror community as a voice of the genre’s future. Since Hatchet, Green has defied expectation by exploring different genre avenues, from Frozen’s chilly Hitchcockian tropes to this year’s supernatural thriller Digging up the Marrow, which used a “found footage” device, to his passion project, Holliston, a sitcom that just so happens to be about two struggling horror directors kicking and screaming their way to achieving a dream, with hilarious twisted and heartfelt results. Green’s voice is uniquely his own, in his films, in person and also in his writing – funny, witty, sometimes dark, sometimes shocking, but always with a ton of heart.

Full Disclosure: Adam is my closest friend and partner-in-crime on many projects, including Holliston (on which I am an executive producer and co-star) as well as The Movie Crypt, a weekly podcast where we discuss the art and business of making movies. He is one of the smartest, funniest people I’ve met and as a more die-hard Star Wars fan than even I am (fun fact: he directed the award-winning Star Wars short Saber in 2009), it was the easiest pairing in the project … even if Adam had to reluctantly give up Daddy’s Home for the chance to write about his favorite franchise’s triumphant return.Joe Lynch, Talkhouse Film Guest Editor


Oh, the pressure. Joe Lynch: “Want to contribute a piece to Talkhouse Film?” Me: “Sure, that sounds fun.” Joe Lynch: “Great, you can do Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Me: “Um…what?” Jump cut to me sitting in my precious IMAX seat as the ending credits roll after my second screening of the film within 12 hours. Me: “How do you even…? I mean, where do you even start? Why did I say YES??”

The truth is that Star Wars as an entity is far more than just a series of movies, spin-offs, action figures, or pop culture iconography. Hell, there was a day this past week where I used Star Wars creamer in my coffee, ate Star Wars cereal for breakfast, tossed down two Star Wars gummy vitamins, got changed out of my Star Wars pajamas and into my Star Wars T-shirt, gathered up my dog and her many Star Wars dog toys, and chewed a piece of Star Wars gum as I drove to my studio. That’s a lot of Star Wars and it wasn’t even 7 a.m. yet. And like so very many others out there, that’s my average day. Like “the Force” itself, Star Wars is what gives us our power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together. Star Wars is our bona fide religion and George Lucas is our lord and creator. If you’re with me so far then hopefully I don’t lose you when I say that with The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams has arrived as our savior.

Yes. I’m very serious about my Star Wars.

I’ve lived and breathed Star Wars since I could first feel my thoughts and be in touch with the energy flowing through me. Born in 1975, I was the perfect age for the release of the original holy trilogy and all of its many, many spoils. This galaxy far, far away with its fascinating worlds, ideas, and characters … it was my life. It has continued to be my life ever since. In 2009, I mistakenly made one of the more popular Star Wars fan films of all time, Saber. I say “mistakenly” because I never had any desire to contribute to the never-ending online world of Star Wars fan films. There were just too many being released and I was hard at work making my own films. Saber happened because I had pushed my (then) wife to stop waiting to be cast in something and to instead go out and make something happen on her own. The result was her asking me a few days later, “Baby, can you make my friend and I a lightsaber fight?” While that wasn’t exactly her going forth and making something on her own, what kind of man would I be if I denied the woman I loved a lightsaber fight? So I said “yes” and then, much like writing this piece, found myself sitting in front of my computer screen wondering what I had just gotten myself into. By the end of the day, I had written Saber. I directed and edited the short. We put it online and I planned to forget all about it. Saber was just a gift to my (then) wife as far as I was concerned.

A few short months later, Saber had (as the kids these days like to say) “broken the Internet” and I was on stage with my (then) wife and her friend collecting not just one but two sets of Golden Droids in the San Diego Comic-Con Lucasfilm Star Wars fan film awards. We had won both the “Best Action” and the Audience Choice awards. I had made something that God himself had seen! With those Golden Droids in my hands, it felt like Mr. Lucas was standing behind me and gently saying, “That’ll do, pig.” It was fanboy glorious. What followed has been years of Christmas cards from Lucasfilm and even the occasional gift. In fact, just last week, Sphero sent me one of the coveted high-end BB-8 toys and a little handwritten note that proclaimed BB-8 was “the droid I was looking for.” (Crazy how they somehow knew that because it was the droid I had been looking for! Just another example of Star Wars magic being all around us.) With Saber, I had come as close as any filmmaker and Star Wars fan could ever conceivably hope to come in terms of being considered even just a minuscule part of the Star Wars family and universe. Standing on that stage at Comic-Con before that massive audience was surreal. Given that I primarily make horror movies for a living, it was very likely the closest I’ll ever come to accepting an award that doesn’t come in the form of a bloody chainsaw or a severed head. “Look at me, Ma! Top of the world!” There were even two sequels to Saber made over the following years. Saber 2 was directed by Seth Green and Saber 3 (which I also wrote) was directed by Talkhouse Film’s guest editor himself, Joe Lynch. I was incredibly proud of Saber. Then the news broke that J.J. Abrams would be taking the helm of the next Star Wars film and I was quickly reminded of my true place far, far down the cinematic Hollywood food chain in a galaxy so far, far away. Of course I never thought that a tiny, little fan film would result in my being considered to helm a real Star Wars film. It wasn’t like I was emerging from carbonite or having delusions of grandeur. But with the announcement that J.J. Abrams would be the filmmaker directing the long awaited Episode VII, my dreams of a new Star Wars film ever existing came crashing into reality and (wait for it…) a new hope was born inside of me all over again.

J.J. Abrams is a filmmaker and human being who I constantly root for. The way I see it, every time J.J. wins, it’s a win for all of us film geeks. With the news that he would be the one bringing us the new Star Wars, I knew our precious galaxy was in two of the absolute best and most capable hands. My faith in him was as unfathomable as my ridiculous expectations. But … just imagine the pressure! How can anyone possibly make a Star Wars film that every fan will deem “perfect?” It’s impossible, of course. We Star Wars fans are the most dedicatedly unpleasable in existence. But damn did our savior deliver something incredible to us this past week. For every little nerdy quibble my Monday morning quarterback geek heart can muster, I was thrilled to my very core with The Force Awakens. Is it just nostalgia because the film stayed so true in so many ways to so very many of the things I so dearly loved about the original holy trilogy? Maybe that’s a huge part of why I loved the movie so much. All I know is that I walked out of the cinema around 5 a.m. that cold Friday 2015 morning with my eyes blinking, my mind racing and my childhood soul believing just as strongly as it had in the summer of 1983 when I first walked out of Return of the Jedi at the (now long-gone) Airport Cinema on Cape Cod. The only major difference was that this time around I was 40 years old instead of eight years old. And this time I was wearing a Chewbacca robe, wookiee slippers and stormtrooper pajamas. Hey, the best part of being a successfully self-employed (and single) adult is that I can buy and wear whatever silly things I want. Even in public. Whatever, I have no shame. I’m a fan and I wear it on my sleeve (and on my legs, on my head, and on my feet sometimes, too).

To do a dissertation on The Force Awakens would not only be an impossible task but also defeat the purpose of this piece. I make films; I don’t review or publicly criticize them in writing. If you really care what my quibbles were with the film and want to hear me geek out like the Star Wars-loving dork that I truly am, our “2015 Wrap-Up” episode of The Movie Crypt podcast that Joe Lynch and I do each week airs on Monday morning December 28th on GeekNation and iTunes. We recorded the episode mere minutes after emerging from the theater where we had just seen The Force Awakens and we spend the opening 45 minutes of the episode going on about every thought and feeling we had. I’ll leave the job of written criticism to those that are much better at it than I would ever be and instead tell you about just one of the non-spoiler things that made my childlike heart grow three sizes bigger.

It was almost fitting that I received a BB-8 in the mail just two days prior to experiencing The Force Awakens. The toy is a lot of fun and it truly is adorable. I’ve spent several hours watching BB-8 roll around my house and watching my dog, Arwen, lose her mind in return. The character (and yes, just like C-3PO and R2-D2 before him, BB-8 is a fully developed character and not just a robot) was easily one of my favorite things about The Force Awakens. There was just so much personality, so much humor, so much emotion in that tiny little droid that the best possible comparison I can make is to my dog, Arwen. The sounds BB-8 made, the many feelings BB-8 expressed, the loyalty BB-8 displayed … it is impossible to not fall in love with this fantastic new addition to the Star Wars universe. One of the film’s greatest strengths is just how wonderful every new character was that we were introduced to, but BB-8 stole the show. On my second viewing, I found myself captivated by the mechanics of BB-8 and wondering just how they imagined the character and brought it to life. I mean, even though I now have one of my own (or a retail version of it), nothing can match the power of BB-8 in the film itself.

The ingenuity that went into creating BB-8 was the same kind of groundbreaking effects achievement that made us all lose our minds over A New Hope way back in the day. BB-8 is real. And I don’t just mean, “Hey, BB-8 was primarily practical effects, puppeteering, and engineering,” I mean I believe BB-8 exists. And, after all, isn’t that the mission of any film? To make the characters and their actions seem believable? To tell you a story that you can fully lose yourself in? While that can prove to be difficult to achieve when dealing with science fiction, fantasy or horror, given that the element of “this isn’t my reality” is typically omnipresent in each of us while watching such genres … The Force Awakens and its many terrific characters are all real to me. More so than ever before, I find myself closing my eyes and just wishing I could live in that world. That I could know these people in real life and not just in my imagination. If I could, even just for a moment, miraculously wake up on the Millennium Falcon one day … would I ever even come back to this world? Once a part of the Star Wars universe, would I have the heart and the strength to be as heroic as the many heroes the films have provided for us? Would they accept and embrace me as strongly as I have accepted and embraced each of them? I’d like to dare to dream so. More than anything, I just want to meet and be best friends with BB-8. In real life.

Going back to my story about Saber, I think that’s why those of us who have put our blood, sweat and tears into making a Star Wars fan film do it. Until the day comes that we can go to sleep and wake up on our favorite planet from the movies and truly be part of George Lucas’ world, making our own little Star Wars scenarios and bringing them to life is the closest we can get to existing inside Star Wars for real. Remember seeing pictures in magazines of George Lucas standing proudly in the creature FX shop surrounded by his many characters and creations? Well, J.J. Abrams got to do it. He is one of us, he loves Star Wars like we do and he is one of the select few who have gotten to actually live in that dream world. Best of all, he has returned from his trip to space and given us all a new piece of our lives. And I mean that sincerely. There was life before The Force Awakens and now there is life after it. Just like how life changed as we know it the first time we saw the original trilogy. Can you even begin to imagine what’s in store for us next? We’re going to get a new Star Wars film before we know it! Isn’t life beautiful? Isn’t it wonderful? Aren’t we better as a human race because of Star Wars? Not since E.T. have I gone to bed hoping and praying that a fictional character in a film would one day show up at my door and actually be real. BB-8 is that character. Though to cynics, the BB-8 toy might be nothing more than an expensive remote control ball, since experiencing the movie, to me this actually isn’t a toy at all. In fact, I’m going to choose to believe that a piece of the real BB-8 was sent to me inside of this amazing, living character that is merely disguised as a high-end “toy.” Laugh all you want. I never tried to say I was cool.

The point in all of this is that J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens made me believe all over again. It is so much of the original holy trilogy (to its greatest strength and also possibly to one of its few weaknesses) yet it brings us so many new characters, ideas and moments that my life will never be the same as it was before seeing that Lucasfilm logo fade up on the giant IMAX screen this past Friday morning at the 2 a.m. screening at Universal City Walk. I’m so proud of J.J. Abrams and the entire team behind this incredible new piece of cinematic history that I wouldn’t even have strong enough words if I ever got the chance to say it to any of their faces.

To bring it all back around again to where I started, the feeling I hope you take away from The Force Awakens is one of believing again. Not just in the Star Wars franchise but in the concept that anything is possible. The Force Awakens has reminded me so loudly and clearly not just why I believe in Star Wars but just how much that very same belief has shaped my own life in so many ways. While I have learned much and will continue to learn even more from the magic that Star Wars bestows upon me, what I learned from making Saber (my own microscopic contribution to the Star Wars fan universe) was this: Do or do not, there is no try. If the woman you love asks you to make her a lightsaber fight … say “YES.” Say “YES” to something you don’t think you can possibly do. You might fail. You might even fail miserably. But just maybe you’ll find that you actually can do it. Anything you can dream up can be accomplished even if it’s a living, breathing technical droid like BB-8. Take a chance on yourself and believe because you never know what the galaxy may have in store for you no matter how far, far away it all may seem. As C-3PO once said, The probability of successfully navigating an asteroid field (or of any of us ever getting the chance to direct a real Star Wars film) is 3,720 to one. But if Star Wars has taught me anything it is to keep dreaming, to keep believing, … and to keep saying “YES.”

Adam Green is an award-winning writer, director, actor, and producer best known for horror films like 2010’s snowy thriller Frozen, the Hatchet franchise, 2015’s Digging Up the Marrow, and his sitcom Holliston, which is now in development on its third season. He’s also run his own production company, ArieScope Pictures, for the past 17 years and every week creates original online series and short films for its website. His podcast (with fellow filmmaker and real-life best friend Joe Lynch) The Movie Crypt was ranked by Entertainment Weekly as one of the “Top 20 Podcasts To Listen To” in 2015. He’s looking for a white guy named Ja’Crispy and his favorite song is Senora Lanza’s “Shut Your Face, Grandma.”