KEN DANIELS-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
A friend of ours who volunteered at our Comic and Pop Convention attended a church with the family of a young boy with cancer. Sharon the volunteer asked if there was any way we could help out the young boy whose name was Phil Parks. Of course we said yes. So off we went making the connections to see how we could help Phil make one of his dreams come true. So we gave Phil and his family free VIP Tickets to meet several celebrities at our event one year. The next year Phil was in a wheel chair due to the Brain Cancer. We brought him and his family back another time to enjoy the event once again. During the previous year we were able to have an event for Phil’s Birthday at our Comic Book store. We closed the store down on our busiest day of the week and brought the Star Wars Fan Groups out to see you Phil. It was an amazing day for everyone involved. New Friendships were formed and that began the start of of this Star Wars Fan Film. In January 2017 we started the talks to make it happen. By March of 2017 we were on our way. Filming began in April/May of 2017 and due to jobs and normal life we worked on it till December 2018. This is a labor of love for us to all of the Children and to others who it might bring a smile to. Everyone donated their time, resources, money and experience to make this happen and we are lucky to have had such a wonderful team. I want to thank them for all of their hard work. I love and appreciate them for what they have accomplished. Phil taught us to be strong and have courage. Even when things were down and we struggled, I heard his voice and I would tear up. I knew we couldn’t let him down or the kids. Phil continue’s to inspire us to this day. We hope to inspire others.
NATHAN THOMAS MILLINER-DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER
“What would you say Star Wars is to you?” This was the question my friend Ken Daniels asked me in a phone call that started it all. My answer was, “The single most inspiring thing in my life creatively”. Star Wars is what awakened the storyteller in me. Ken said he thought so and asked if I would be interested in maybe helping him out making a fan film based on the franchise. I had made a previous fan film called The Confession of Fred Krueger, which had been a passion project for nearly 25 years. I had never had a lot of interest in making fan films and after doing one, had kind of publicly said I’d never make another. But this was something different. This came with 3 reasons to go back on my word. First, it was Star Wars and I was told the 501st were involved which meant having access to screen accurate uniforms and props. Second, I was getting a chance to finally work with Ken and actor John Wells. I had known both guys for nearly a decade but we had never collaborated on anything. And last, it was all going to be for charity and in remembrance of a young boy named Phil who lost his life to cancer but had inspired a lot of people to take action. The film would be made to hopefully raise money for Norton Children’s Hospital in Phil’s honor. How could I say no? I mean, Ken was just asking for my help. A few days here and there maybe helping with a script. Maybe being an extra. No problem. I had no idea that I’d end up spending the next 2 years making this film at just about every avenue and serve as the writer/director of the film. But I have a tendency to be all in when creative opportunities present themselves. And luckily, Ken trusted me to put me in the game. We assembled not only a team–a team or familiar past collaborators and many first timers–but by the end what we had actually assembled was a family. It was one of if not the most rewarding times I’d ever had on set with a film crew. We made the closest of friends on this project. Friends who will be with us on our future projects. And while we fought through the hot, tick infested woods in the Summer heat, at the end of the day we knew we were doing something for a great cause. A cause that became very personal for me in 2018. My wife and I had to take our daughter Lily to Norton Children’s Hospital after an accident. She was scared but the staff there were so attentive to keeping her calm, comforted and safe while we were there. Everyone’s patience, love, concern, helpfulness did not go unnoticed. I was amazed at how good they treated us despite how busy they were. We never felt ignored or forgotten. They did everything in their power to make sure not only was Lily safe and calm but that we were as well. Lily was fine but I walked away with a greater appreciation for the hospital and it only fueled my desire and efforts to finish our film and pay them back for all they do. To try to help them if at all possible. This film was a labor of love. For the material, the legacy, the people, the cast and crew, the story, the hospital and for Phil. We hope people will see and recognize that love on the screen.
DON WEST-PROP BUILDER-LEAD ACTOR
I had been in the 501st Legion for just over a year and a half, when Ken Daniels (FandomFest organizer) introduced myself and several others to a young man named Phil Parks in February 2016. We were told that Phil had terminal brain cancer. Most of his treatments were done at Norton’s Children Hospital (previously known as Kosair’s Children Hospital). Phil inspired us with the ability to survive his condition. His family was told he had weeks to a few months to live, Phil continued for over a year.
Two weeks before Phil’s death, he had asked to be a Stormtrooper. Through the donations from Walt Trooper Factory and FandomFest, I received a Stormtrooper kit and built it in 30 hours, ready for Phil to wear. Even though Phil was not feeling well, he was excited and that young boy managed to don his Stormtrooper kit.
Phil was a huge Star Wars fan, and that encouraged me to continue building large props in his honor. He would be the catalyst for the creation of Veteran Garage Props, Derby City Squad, and Bluegrass Garrison. He brought us all together in the beginning and we grew. A newly formed nonprofit – Arts For A Cause LLC, dedicated a new Star Wars fan film in his honor. Phil’s brother, Ben, donned Phil’s armor and became part of the cast. The fan film is called Star Wars Hand Of The Empire and after it’s release, all donations will go directly to Phil’s hospital of care, Norton’s Children Hospital.
Since Phil’s passing in early 2016, I have helped create and build multiple Star Wars props. A half scale AT-ST, two Speeder Bikes, Sand Crawler and a full scale Endor Bunker. Our latest build, a full size Rogue One tank, is dedicated and named after him – TX-225(PHIL). All donations raised from PHIL’s appearances will go directly to Norton’s Children Hospital.
Two years after his passing, Phil continues to inspire.
BUILDING THE PROP TANK and naming it in honor of Phil Parks.
Building the tank started with an idea after the first trailer for Rogue One was released. Before anything was physically built, I spent several months drafting a concept of the build then using TinkerCad to scale measurements. The biggest obstacle was a vehicle platform to use as the base. Ken Daniels of FandomFest answered our call and donated his personal vehicle for us to begin our construction. After several design flaws, we conceded to a smaller vehicle, trading in Ken’s donation with his approval. One week after Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017, vehicle prep and material acquisition started. Our initial budget was $2700($1500 from Ken’s car donation and another $1200 from the Go Fund Me and several gift cards). In three months we were at 75% completion and debuted TX-225 (PHIL) at FandomFest 2017, honoring Phil Parks, Lydia Parks and Ken Daniels for their contributions to the build. Tank construction halted for several months and began again in March 2018. Currently at 95% completion and over $4000 over initial budget on the tank alone, TX-225(PHIL) had his parade debut at Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade 2018.