The force is with Chris Conley, who plans lightsaber film

semerson@macon.comDecember 16, 2013 

Georgia's leading receiver, Chris Conley, has been planning and organizing a "Star Wars" lightsaber duel film, with Todd Gurley set to star in a supporting role. Yes, he's a bit of a nerd, which is perfectly fine, because so am I.

But on Monday, in preparation for the Gator Bowl, I sat down with Conley and discussed his strong season (42 catches for 605 yards and four touchdowns), the matchup with Nebraska, and preparations against the Cornhusker secondary.

Nah, just kidding. We talked all about "Star Wars":

Q: Rank the Star Wars movies.

Conley: OK. I'll give you my top three.

(Deep sigh, thinking a few moments.)

Conley: Well I grew up in the era of episodes I, II and III (the three most recent episodes). And not everyone is a huge fan of I and II. I like "A New Hope," and "Empire Strikes Back", and I like Episode III ("Revenge of the Sith") because it just sets up the whole story. So those would be my top.

Q: So you'd go IV, then V, then III?

Conley: Well ...

(Thinking again a few moments.)

Conley: Lemme take that back. I do like "A New Hope." But we'll go V, then VI, then III.

Q: So "Empire," then "Return of the Jedi," then ...

Conley: Episode III.

Q: I agree on "Empire." I think that's one of the best movies ever made. For some people it's too slow.

Conley: I liked it. But I'm subjective.

Q: So would you have preferred that he not made the first three at all?

Conley: No. I think it was kind of necessary, given the new generation of kids growing up. I didn't hear all the critics when I was a kid. I know a bunch of other people who didn't hear all the critics, and they loved the movies. I did too. And it introduced me to the whole genre, and the story and everything. I actually don't mind them at all, because that's where it all started for me.

Q: My first movie was "Star Wars," I'm told. I was one years old (in 1977) and my mom took me. You were how old when you first saw it?

Conley: What would I have been, five? I think I was five or six.

Q: So how do you get into it so much, someone from your generation?

Conley: Just me and my siblings, my family, my Dad was kind of a movie buff, so we watched movies like that. Then my brother and I were big fans of it, video games and that sort of thing. My sister was a fan of it too. And we just never let it die. When people say they grow out of things, I guess we didn't. I guess we prided ourselves on being people who wouldn't change for others. When you go into grade school a lot of times you find that kids will shy away from things that they like just to fit in. We challenged each other not to be those people.

Q: Where do things stand with what you're trying to organize?

Conley: Right now it's kind of difficult because everyone's not back on campus. But we shot an effects demo live three days ago. Frank Martin's actually editing that stuff and he's doing some special effects just to see what we're good at, and to see what we can do. And so we can get a more appropriate timetable. Right now the university's asking us how many days we need to shoot, and how big our crew is going to be. We will be sending them that information once we get more people back on campus, and we talk to some more people. We're gonna have a meeting to let people know how they can be involved.

The script is written. Story boards are pretty much done at this point. And I'm casting two actors to play two roles that we need, and then once we get that done, there'll be two steps: Choreography and shooting.

Q: Are you in it?

Conley: Yeah.

Q: Who are you?

Conley: I can't tell you yet.

Q: So this is your own story.

Conley: Yeah. It's not a huge story. The majority of it is a duel. But there's a little bit of a story to set the duel up.

Q: It's not a lot of character development, just an excuse to have a lightsaber duel.

Conley: Exactly. A 'why is it happening' kind of thing.

At this point another "reporter" jumped in to ask Conley some actual football questions. Two minutes later:

Q: Football is important and all but I'm still worried about "Star Wars."

Conley: Me too.

Q: Has anybody on the team wanted to jump on this?

Conley: Yeah we've had a couple of guys saying that they were gonna make a cameo. Todd (Gurley) said he was going to launch his acting career with this. We'll see where we get him involved, and what we do with that. We said most likely we're going to have some small subtle things going on in the background that will make you watch it twice. Some things that you wouldn't notice, some funny things going on. It's gonna be mostly a serious tone, but in the background we'll have some small funny things, and that's probably where we'll have different characters from campus around.

Q: What's the inspiration for doing this?

Conley: I've just seen some dual videos online, and I said that was cool, I wish I knew how to do that. Then I looked up how to do it, and I realized I could do this. That kind of thing. I wondered if there were people who wanted to do it with me. Because it would take far too long for me to shoot and edit all this by myself. So let's find somebody who's actually good at this. By that time there were a lot of people who were like, 'Yeah, you should do that.' So people volunteered.

Q: What's the best duel in one of the six movies?

Conley: Definitely 'Battle of Heroes,' which is the last duel in Episode III, between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, I guess.

Q: Who's Anakin-slash-Darth Vader at that point ...

Conley: Anakin-slash-Darth Vader. I mean that's probably the best, the fastest, the best choreographed one. It's the most dramatic one, setting up his final steps to the dark side.

Q: Well the first one between Luke and Darth is pretty dramatic because you don't know what happens at the end.

Conley: That's true, that's true. But purely on the dueling, that one (from Episode III) beats it out. I don't think there's any dual like that in any movie or before that one.

Q: All right then, best of luck.

Conley: Thank you.


Gurley said he hasn't actually seen any of the "Star Wars" movies. The only series of movies he's given himself time to watch were the "Harry Potter" movies, which he said he loved. But he still wants to be in Conley's movie.

"Hopefully a good role," Gurley said. "I think I might have to die, because I'm gonna try to defeat Darth Vader, which nobody can do that. I just want to get a couple scenes."

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