Thanks to the rise of digital media and the interweb fan films are now common place. That's been a good thing for developing filmmakers, pranksters and tube-leeches like myself. But prior to the digital age fan films were a different beast. They were harder to make, distribute and circulate. They could easily be as much a production as any professional film. Indeed, a fan film back then was relatively rare, let alone one that gets attention. So when a good one came along it had the opportunity to be an event.
None more so than back in 1977, in the same year that the original Star Wars came out, the parody film Hardware Wars was released to its own huge success. It won a slew of awards and made a lot of money in relation to its tiny budget. Over the decades it has developed legendary status with independent filmmakers and film followers and given proper respect to the director Ernie Fosselius and producer Michael Wiese, both now regarded as gurus in the independent scene. You can read the story about Hardware Wars in Homemade Hollywood: Fans Behind the Camera by Clive Young, though you can also access that particular chapter at Michael Wiese Books.
Anyway, now that you can go to Youtube and the like and see endless homemade films and parodies I think it is worth another look at this almost 32 year old film and acknowledge it as the one and true parent of the contemporary fan film and, of course, all Star Wars parodies from Space Balls to Family Guy and Robot Chicken.