The sci-fi channel Dust and the USC School of Cinematic Arts are partnering for a showcase of student short films that will include a vintage artifact — the 1996 student short made by Rian Johnson, the future writer-director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the 2017 epic that made more than $1.3 billion in worldwide box office.
Johnson was a senior at USC when he filmed Evil Demon Golf Ball From Hell!!!, a loopy, clever and impressively accomplished cinematic send-up of the Edgar Allen Poe classic The Tell-Tale Heart.
The oddball artifact will be shown daily on Dust from December 7-10 and caps the student-film showcase that begins December 3. Dust will spotlight one student film each day during the week. The full schedule is below.
Evil Demon Golf Ball From Hell!!! is part comedy, part thriller and follows a guilty man haunted by a fiendishly persistent tormentor from the world of sporting goods. For two decades now Johnson’s short has been taught at the USC School of Cinematic Arts as an example of how to make an incredible short on a shoestring budget.
Johnson’s unlikely career path from campus filmmaker to Jedi blockbuster auteur has made him a figure of fascination and debate within the obsessed legions of Star Wars fans.
After the 2017 release of The Last Jedi, Johnson handed the Star Wars baton off to director J.J. Abrams who is at work on the final installment of the Skywalker saga, Star Wars: Episode IX, which reaches theaters in December 2019. That film will culminate the Skywalker family story arc that was first introduced to moviegoers in May 1977.
Johnson will return to Jedi universe for a new trilogy but first he is finishing work on Knives Out, a contemporary detective mystery that evokes Johnson’s longtime passion for Agatha Christie and mysteries. It takes Johnson back toward the crime genre work he did with Brick, the 2005 noir project that was the professional breakthrough for him.
Knives Out stars Daniel Craig who has also been on hiatus from his blockbuster duties (due to a delay in the making of the next James Bond movie).
Last year, Dust secured the digital premiere of George Lucas’ 1967 student short, Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, timed with the theatrical release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
“Sharing Rian Johnson’s short film with sci-fi lovers worldwide and showcasing it during the USC Student Film Week encapsulates everything we strive for with Dust — honoring the works of sci-fi masters such as Lucas while also celebrating the passing of the torch to the next wave of future filmmaking icons like Johnson,” said Eric Bromberg, General Manager of Dust. “We are excited to, once again, work with USC to bring attention to some of their up-and-coming filmmakers while paying homage to the sci-fi legends of both yesterday and today.”
Dust, with more than 2.5 million fans, is now available on Roku and Twitch. In November, Dust also premiered its first feature film, Prospect, which is currently in theaters nationwide. Prospect is a sci-fi Western starring Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones), who is set to star in a new Star Wars series called The Mandalorian, which will be a Disney+ project.
The following shorts will debut during USC’s Student Film Week on Dust:
12/3: Perfectly Natural directed by by Victor Alonso-Berbel
12/4: Connected directed by Christopher Satola
12/5: The Fringes directed by Lily Darragh Harty
12/6: Yes, Today! directed by Dimitry Kovalev
12/7-12/10: Evil Demon Golf Ball from Hell directed by Rian Johnson
Here’s an exclusive look at a new trailer for the student film by Johnson.