Fan edits and the legacy of "The Phantom Edit"

  • Joshua Wille University of Kansas
Keywords: Copyright, Fair use, George Lucas, Remix, Star Wars


A fan edit can generally be defined as an alternative version of a film or television text created by a fan. It offers a different viewing experience, much as a song remix offers a different listening experience. The contemporary wave of fan edits has emerged during the remix zeitgeist of digital media and at a time when digital video editing technology has become more affordable and popular. The increasing number of alternative versions of films and the works of revisionist Hollywood filmmakers such as George Lucas have contributed to a greater public understanding of cinema as a fluid medium instead of one that exists in a fixed form. The Phantom Edit (2000), a seminal fan edit based on Lucas's Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), inspired new ranks of fan editors. However, critics have misunderstood fan edits as merely the work of disgruntled fans. In order to provide a critical and historical basis for studies in fan editing as a creative practice, I examine previous interpretations of fan edits in the context of relevant contemporary works, and I use an annotated chronology of The Phantom Edit to trace its influence on subsequent fan editing communities and uncover their relationship with intellectual property disputes.

Author Biography

Joshua Wille, University of Kansas
Joshua Wille is a PhD student in Film and Media Studies at the University of Kansas and an independent fan editor.