01/18/2002 at 01:00 AM EST
R2-D2's daddy, George Lucas, 57, is about to play sugar daddy to a whole new generation of aspiring young Lucases. The Hollywood Reporter says Lucas is launching the Star Wars Fan Film Awards, designed to reward up-and-coming filmmakers who have completed original projects based on the seminal cinematic space series. The competition grew out of the large number of "Star Wars"-inspired amateur film projects that have poured in since the late 2000 creation of the Star Wars Fan Film Network, said Scott Roesch, vice president of AtomShockwave (which hosts the site). Out of more than 100 submissions to date, says the trade paper, about a dozen films have been posted on the site, including "Star Wars Gangsta Rap," an animated short that Time magazine's digital supplement named last year's best online comedy. Roesch expects about 100 new submissions for the Fan Film Awards, he told the Reporter, adding: "With 'Episode II' coming out, we decided to do something that would have George Lucas's direct involvement and something that the fans would get really excited about." Live-action or animated spoofs or documentaries to be submitted should be rated PG, and filmmakers are free to use the trademark "Star Wars" sound effects, provided by Lucasfilm, which are available through the production kit posted on the site. The deadline is April 5, with finalists posted monthly. Fans can watch and vote for their favorite submissions at AtomFilms. Winners, to be selected by judges that include Lucas himself, will be announced at Star Wars Celebration II, scheduled for May 3-5 in Indianapolis.