Star Wars Kid: The Rise of the Digital Shadows 

Mathieu Fournier
2022 | 1 h 20 min

Ghyslain Raza, better known as the ΓÇ£Star Wars Kid,ΓÇ¥ breaks his silence to reflect on our hunger for content and the right to be forgotten in the digital age.

based on the story of
Ghyslain Raza

Ghyslain Raza
Andy Baio
Jean-Michel Berthiaume
Christian Bouchard
Amanda Brennan
Nina Duque
Kate Eichhorn
Katharina Niemeyer
Kathleen Rouillard
Jonathan Trudel
François Vigeant
Alys Angers
Charlyn Bergeron
Meagan Boisclair
Olivier Gélinas
Elie Grégoire
Édouard Labbé
Florence Lamothe
Jayden Roy

Mathieu Fournier

Mathieu Fournier
Jonathan Trudel

Mathieu Fournier
Jean-Michel Berthiaume
Jonathan Trudel

assistant to the director
Maude-Émilie St-Pierre

content consultant
Ghyslain Raza

director of photography
Maxime Pilon-Lalande

Alexandre Fréchette
Marc Warden

camera assistant
Charles Hardy

additional images
La boîte ronde

location sound
Sylvain Vary
Stéfane Kirouac

Carmen Mélanie Pépin

technical support
Pierre Dupont
Marie-Josée Gourde
Patrick Trahan

research - archives
Karine Perron

projections consultant
Amelia Scott

Trans & Sub Coop

Trans & Sub Coop

art director
Marc-Antoine Jacques
Mathieu Lalumière

animation designer
Mathieu Lalumière

additional graphic design
Mélanie Bouchard

online editing
Yannick Carrier

Yannick Carrier

sound design
Sylvain Bellemare
Luc Raymond
Stan Sakell

Isabelle Lussier

production coordinator
Alexandre Bouchard
Dominique Fecteau
Noémie Rioux
Chinda Phommarinh
Alexandra Bourque

post-production director
Éline Sanschagrin

editing assistant
Mélanie Bénard
Anne-Sophie Borduas
Alex Trépanier

technical manager
Harold Lopez Garroz

technical assistant
Francis Robert

finance director
Caroline Côté

production accountant
Samantha Servant

line producer
Mélanie Lasnier

senior production coordinator
Joëlle Lapointe

technical coordinator
Daniel Claveau
Mira Mailhot

studio coordinator
Gabrielle Dupont
Stéphanie Lazure

Sia Koukoulas

legal advisor
Peter Kallianiotis

marketing manager
Karine Sévigny

marketing coordinator
Eric Bondo

insurance broker

legal services
Lussier & Khouzam

interim financing
Banque Nationale du Canada
Groupe cinéma et télévision

Cultural, Social and Documentary programming director
Virginie Langlois
Sophie Bélanger

Annie Bourdeau
Pierre-Mathieu Fortin

executive producer
Nathalie Cloutier
Raphaëlle Huysmans
Philippe Lamarre

In the Shadow of the Star Wars Kid
Posted March 31, 2022 by Andy Baio

Last August, I entered a loft in downtown Portland, walked through a door, and met someone IΓÇÖve wanted to talk to for the last 20 years: Ghyslain Raza, the unwilling subject of the ΓÇ£Star Wars KidΓÇ¥ meme, the biggest viral video of the pre-YouTube era.

Since the video and its remixes exploded online in 2003, Ghyslain has refused all interview requests, except for the 10th anniversary of the video’s release in 2013 for an interview with a French-Canadian journalist for L’actualité magazine, which was translated into English for partner magazine Maclean’s.

But over the last couple years, heΓÇÖs quietly worked with a group of documentary filmmakers to tell his story for the first time, in his own words. The full-length film was released today in French and English, as youΓÇÖd expect from Quebec-based filmmakers. In English, itΓÇÖs being released as Star Wars Kid: The Rise of the Digital Shadows, but IΓÇÖm partial to the French title, Dans lΓÇÖombre du Star Wars Kid, which translates to ΓÇ£In the Shadow of the Star Wars Kid.ΓÇ¥ It feels much more fitting to the story they told.

ItΓÇÖs now available for streaming free from the National Film Board of CanadaΓÇÖs site, and I highly recommend watching it. I was lucky enough to get an advance screener and itΓÇÖs a powerful film expertly told.
Making the Documentary

In February 2021, the documentaryΓÇÖs director, Mathieu Fournier, reached out to see if IΓÇÖd speak to them about my role in the videoΓÇÖs initial spread and the fundraiser we held for him, my ultimately-futile attempt to shift the narrative to a positive light.

IΓÇÖve declined every interview request about this subject since 2003, but was surprised to hear that Ghyslain himself was deeply involved in the production, so I immediately agreed to participate.

The production team came to Portland for the filming, where I was interviewed for a couple hours by the filmmakers. Then, Ghyslain and I sat down for a long one-on-one conversation on camera about everything that happened 20 years ago, the impact it had on his life, and how he looks back on it now.

IΓÇÖve never talked about it publicly, but I regret ever posting it. From the start, it was obvious it was never meant to be seen, and mirroring it on my site without consent was wrong in a way that I couldnΓÇÖt see when I was in my 20s, one year into blogging. I removed the videos once it was clear how it was affecting him, but I never should have posted them in the first place.

Meeting Ghyslain gave me the opportunity to tell him all of that in person, as well as in my interviews, some of which made it into the finished film.

As a side note, it was fascinating to get answers to questions IΓÇÖve wondered about for 20 years. Yes, Ghyslain actually received the iPod we sent him from the fundraiser, and used the gift cards we sent him to buy an iMac G4, both of which he kept to this day. He managed to avoid most of the remixes and media coverage, except for Arrested Development, which he watched live as it aired.

But more than anything, it was great to finally talk to him in person and see that heΓÇÖs doing well. By all accounts, he handled everything that happened back then with a profound emotional maturity, despite how painful it was, and emerged on the other side with a uniquely interesting perspective thatΓÇÖs worth listening to.

After the documentary taping, we all met up for drinks on the roof deck at Revolution Hall, where we hold XOXO every year, and then went out for dinner and more drinks until late at night.

This time, Ghyslain and I were able to talk privately off camera, about our lives and families, about the Commodore 64 and typography, finding natural common ground. When he was younger, he was really into computers, but for obvious reasons, Ghyslain spent much of his life offline after 2003.

Like so many others, I saw my geeky teenage self when first watching the Star Wars Kid video, and sitting across from this 34-year-old man, I saw a parallel-world version of myself in my 30s. I first fell in love with the internet at age 15, the age Ghyslain was when he made the video.

That night, I couldnΓÇÖt help but wonder how his life would have changed if it never happened. I was surprised to see that in the final film, thereΓÇÖs a moment where Ghyslain talks about our meeting, and wonders exactly the same thing. I hope you take the time to watch it.

Thanks to Ghyslain for his generosity and empathy, and thanks to the filmmakers for making this meeting possible: something IΓÇÖve quietly hoped would happen for 20 years.
Me and Ghyslain, August 2021

Star Wars Kid
Posted April 29, 2003 by Andy Baio

If youΓÇÖre going to videotape your Star Wars fighting skills on a school camera, remember to remove the cassette when youΓÇÖre done. Watch this embarrassingly good video.

It didn’t take long for the online community to remix it with full Star Wars special effects and lightsaber noises. I have no idea where this video originated from; if you know this kid, let me know. The kid has been identified… The full story here!

Update: IΓÇÖve turned off new comments in this thread because of the mean-spirited tone, and deleted the most vicious comments. Yes, heΓÇÖs fat and awkward. We get it. Since 90% of the traffic to these videos is coming from gaming, technology, and Star Wars news websites, IΓÇÖm guessing that most of you werenΓÇÖt any cooler in junior high school than this poor kid. All you geeks, nerds, and dorks out there need to think twice before trashing one of your own.