'Star Wars' Producer Rick McCallum Boards Sci-Fi Project 'R'Ha' (Exclusive)

Rick McCallum 2005 - P 2013
<p>Rick McCallum 2005 - P 2013</p>   |   Getty Images
"Life on Mars" creator Matthew Graham has been tapped to pen the script for the feature, which began life as a hot Hollywood short.

R’Ha, a high-concept sci-fi feature project that began as a hot Hollywood short, is getting a little help from friends with some Star Wars connections.

Rick McCallum, the former head of Lucasfilm and producer of the recent Star Wars trilogy, is boarding the feature as producer, making it his first sci-fi project since leaving the George Lucas fold.

Steve Tzirlin, who was a producer on Star Wars: Clone Wars and worked with McCallum at Lucasfilm, will also produce. The two now join original producers Raymond Brothers and Scott Glassgold of IAM Entertainment.

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Meanwhile, TV creator Matthew Graham, best known for his series Life on Mars but who also worked on the aborted live-action Star Wars TV show, is coming on board to pen the screenplay.

Kaleb Lechowski created the short and is attached to direct the feature, which is unique in that it follows a nonhuman alien from a race called the R’Ha, who defend a cluster of solar systems from a menacing attack.

In fact, it’s that nonhuman aspect that attracted McCallum to the project.

“What inspires me and our team is that there are no humans whatsoever in the film, and yet Kaleb has come up with a world that is so engaging and so alive and so real that it really is very different from anything else I have seen in the sci-fi world,” said McCallum via email from Prague.

He added: “We want to make it as a European film, using VFX facilities from all over Central and Eastern Europe and Asia, and do it for a price that not only allows Kaleb total control of his unique vision, but is incomprehensible in the big-budget VFX world that we now live in!"

Since leaving Lucasfilm late last year McCallum has kept busy on projects outside the U.S. His company, Film United, is providing production services on the Tom Fontana series Borgia, which started shooting in late May, and he is producing an adaptation of the Jan Novak novel So Far So Good, being directed by Tomas Masin, which will shoot in Latvia, Poland and Bulgaria.

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Along with Laurence Bowen, he is also producing Boy Soldiers, which he hopes to shoot in Sierra Leone.

Tzirlin oversaw script and story development for the Clone Wars animated series and is producing the feature adaptation of another sci-fi short, Ruin, which is set up at 20th Century Fox.

Graham created crime show Life on Mars for the BBC, which was later adapted for the American market by ABC, and also wrote for Doctor Who.

The scribe was one of the lead writers of a live-action Star Wars TV series that was eventually shelved (despite several seasons’ worth of scripts) when Lucas deemed that the production cost would be too high to successfully pull off.

Watch the original short film below: