Jan 17, 2008
In 2001, the fan film community was entering a major boom phase, as fans, hyped for Attack of the Clones and spurred on by The Phantom Menace came out of the woodwork to produce fan films.
Two years before, in 1999, the Star Wars fan audio genre had been quietly born with the launch of the Jedi Talk radio show, which streamed online via Real Player (and, by the way, has been made unavailable by its creative team in any online archival format, so we won't be seeing those archives return anytime soon, if ever).
In 2001, a team led by Sebastien Mineau and Dany Pepin, inspired by Jedi Talk, began their own live, streaming radio show in French (exclusively French language at the time), Star Wars en Direct. That inspiration became the first "lineage" of inspiration (so to speak) in Star Wars fan audio.
Meanwhile, a second lineage of Star Wars fan audio was being born in the fan film community. As a lead-in to their (later phenomenally successful) fan film The Formula, the core members of Digital Llama Productions (Christopher Hanel, Abe Peterka, Steve Phelan, and Justin Whitlock) began production on their own pre-recorded online radio show, Digital Llama Radio, focused around Star Wars, fan films, and moviemaking.
The series became an instant hit in the fan film community, releasing five independent episodes before being picked up by TheForce.Net Fan Films, where the series produced another eleven episodes (twelve if one considers the two-part eighth TFN episode as two separate episodes).
The series would see the introduction of the then-wife of Abe Peterka and another star of The Formula, Becca Peterka, while also later adding Josh Wasta to the panel.
Digital Llama Radio would eventually spawn a spin-off series about gaming entitled Digital Llama Player's Guide in 2002, which ran for five episodes.
Finally, in 2003, the classic Digital Llama Radio would merge with Digital Llama Player's Guide into a single production, Digital Llama 2.0 (which brought in another host, C.J. Mobberley), but that new series would only last for two (or three, counting another two-parter) episodes before the series would quietly fade away.
The impact of DLR, DLPG, and DL2 can be felt through Star Wars fan audio, as DLR itself was the project that inspired ChronoRadio, which in itself later inspired quite a few other radio shows (podcasts). Christopher Hanel, thought of as the godfather of DLR, was instrumental in the first Star Wars fan audio drama, Second Strike, which he mixed alongside Nathan P. Butler, setting the stage for an audio drama genre to come.
Today, Christopher Hanel continues in film making, comedy, and audio production. His newest project is Riff Raff Theater (http://www.riffrafftheater.com), which also now features its own podcast, Riff Raff Radio. We urge those who enjoy these classic Digital Llama Productions projects to visit the RRT page and check out this new venture.
Over the coming months, we will be, with Hanel's blessing, re-releasing all 23 (25) episodes of the classic DLR, D2, and, yes, even DLPG episodes here through the Star Wars Fanworks Audio Feed. We are proud to present these classic series to many who will hear for the first time just why they are considered a fan audio great, even now, years later.
More information: http://www.starwarsfanworks.com/digitalllama.html
(Riff Raff Theater can be found at http://www.riffrafftheater.com.)