Star Wars: Desertion of the Jedi is a fan film that made its debut on the internet in November 2017, created by Zebcast Studios and fans of the Star Wars franchise. It is a live-action drama set in the Star Wars universe, taking place centuries before The Phantom Menace. It tells the story of a Jedi Knight named Jos Kaydor (David Sarabia) who, after accidentally crash-landing on the desert planet Tatooine, joins forces with a variety of strange new characters desperate to overthrow a tyrannical despot named Baron Storrow (Santiago Mejía), who rules over their village of Mos Shuuta; all while trying to get back home.
Desertion of the Jedi is the first film by Zebcast Studios to ever use animation, with aliens and droids being featured in the background of the town of Mos Shuuta, and the minor character of J9-CC.
A Jedi Knight named Jos Kaydor is travelling through space in his starfighter with his R5 droid after having fought against some apprentices of the Sith Order. While talking with his master, the engines of his ship fail. Suddenly, the starfighter begins to descend into the atmosphere of a desert-like planet. Jos, praying to the Force, crash-lands. With his starfighter and R5 destroyed, Jos Kaydor seems to be totally alone in the dunes of this unknown planet.
While in the desert, he encounters a pirate named Kain who tries to rob him. The Jedi insists that he has nothing of great value, but Kain does not believe him. When the pirate decides to shoot him to steal what he has, Jos stops the blaster bolt with the Force. Astonished, the smuggler asks for forgiveness and introduces himself. Kain decides to take him to the nearest town, and tells him that he wanted to rob him to pay the rent to his landlord, the oppressive Baron Storrow, and explains that the whole town pays the rent to this cruel landowner.
When they arrive at Mos Shuuta, it is noticeable that it is very depopulated, with a great lack of villagers. Baron Storrow arrives, who is a tall, intimidating and very cultured man. The Baron, seeing his "slave" Kain with the stranger, feels discomfort in the presence of Jos, and seeing that Kain does not have his money, takes him to a mysterious place to be tortured. Jos hears the sound of Sith rays as torture occurs. Upon reappearing, Jos threatens him by taking out a blaster, which provokes Baron Storrow and points him with his blaster. But, Jos lowers Storrow's hand with the Force and makes him keep his gun. Surprised and furious, the Baron realizes that Jos is a Jedi, and talks to his Sith master by hologram in a dark room. It is revealed that Storrow is the Sith Lord Darth Scorpus, and he is in that town because there is a lot of dark energy there. His teacher orders him to fight with the Jedi and kill him. Right after, Baron Storrow approaches Jos and notices that he has a lightsaber, and forces him to fight him in a duel. They face in an abandoned area of the village, both draw their lightsabers and fight. The duel, however, is short, and the Baron wins. Jos throws a stone with the Force and leaves him unconscious, but Jos is too hurt, and also falls unconscious.
Jos wakes up in a house in the desert. Upon awakening, he is threatened by a fierce character who watched him. Jos asks where he is, and he is greeted by Rudan Torren, an old Jedi Master who was presumed dead and also an old friend of Jos; and J9-CC (the old man's astromech droid). Rudan Torren explains that this fierce guard is Sabith, his bodyguard. Happy, Jos greets him and is invited to a glass of blue milk. Rudan tells Jos that Baron Storrow is a Sith Lord named Darth Scorpus, and that previously he was his apprentice (his Padawan), but he joined the Dark Side and killed the Jedi friends of his master and destroyed his ship, and for that is hidden away from where Darth Scorpus is. He also explains that Scorpus wants total control over that village because there is a Sith Shrine there, which contains a lot of energy from the Dark Side. Jos and Torren train together for a while.
After a few days of Jedi training, Kain arrives at Master Torren's house. Despite being initially threatened by Sabith and J9-CC, he tells them that he also joins the fight against the Sith Lord. Kain tells Jos that the Baron Storrow has been forming a large independent army of the Republic.
It is revealed that Scorpus created that army to preserve his regime while destroying the Jedi on Coruscant.
The final battle arrives against Darth Scorpus. In the first phase of the attack plan, Kain pulls out his sniper rifle and begins to eliminate the baron's lackeys while listening to rock music with his hooves.
Jos Kaydor, Rudan Torren and Sabith approach the Sith Lord, who walks towards his ship to travel to Coruscant. Jos Kaydor calls him, and when he turns around, he sees his old teacher at his side. Darth Scorpus talks to his old teacher Torren for a while, and they start to fight with lightsabers.
Scorpus wins the battle quickly, strangulating Jos with the Force and almost killing Torren by cutting him in the back, leaving him on the ground. Just as he is about to kill Jos, Kain shoots him with his blaster, and Sabith sacrifices himself to save them, running to the Sith Lord and being tortured by his abilities on the Dark Side. Together, the three heroes unite and defeat him. Jos points him in the face with his lightsaber, but obeying the rules of the Jedi, does not kill him. However, it leaves him in Kain's hands, and Kain moves the camera and shoots him almost 10 times.
Jos bids farewell to his old friend Torren and J9-CC, and leaves on Storrow's ship, en route to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.
- David Sarabia - Jos Kaydor
- Gimmy Viti - Kain
- Santiago Mejia - Baron Storrow, also known as Darth Scorpus.
- Aydan Woodward - Rudan Torren
- Aston Wyatt - Sabith
- Nick Pedersen - Darth Kredd, Storrow's evil master.
- Candela Rial - Jos' Jedi Master.
Desertion Of The Jedi was the most time-consuming project the Zebcast team had ever worked on during their 10 years of existence. Production started in November 2016, when Aydan Woodward offered the idea to his colleague and good friend David Sarabia, who instantly accepted the pitch. With both of them being co-directors, they gathered top editors that new how to rotoscope lightsabers (Woodward also learnt how to do it) and saved up money to purchase costumes and Star Wars props.
Shooting began in July 2017, and it was filmed on the island of Fuerteventura, which is almost identical to the planet Tatooine from the Star Wars films. However, some shots were made using green screen, such as the start of the film when Jos Kaydor is flying his starfighter through space; and the landspeeder scene.
Post-production was without a doubt the lengthiest and, according to the directors, the "most horrible period" of production. It took the VFX team 20 minutes to just do 3 seconds of a lightsaber sequence. Not only that, but the lightsaber effects constantly had errors, glitches and/or got accidentally erased by the editing program (this explains why some lightsaber shots look somewhat strange or incomplete). Animating the creatures and droids of Mos Shuuta was less of a problem, but was still time-consuming. One character from the movie, J9-CC, is totally animated with CGI.
The film was finally released the 15th November 2017 after months of hard work and great effort.
The film received generally positive reviews from viewers. Combining most of the reviews made by critics and commenters alike, 'Desertion Of The Jedi' received an 8/10.
Most people praised the acting, especially Santiago Mejía and Gimmy Viti's performances as Baron Storrow and Kain respectively, but they criticized the sound issues and some faulty special effects.
CarlosSalvesTV gave the film a 6/10, saying (translated into English): 'This film has a fantastic cast and music that will give you goose bumps, but the audio problems are a major let down'.
Critic Daniel Cárdenes gave a better rating. With his 9/10, he said: '"Star Wars: Desertion Of The Jedi" is Zebcast Studios' best film yet. With Santiago Mejía's killer performance as the big bad and wonderfully made lightsaber effects, this one will be hard to beat for a long time'.