Monday 2 October 2017

Star Wars At 40 (part 10) - Behind The Scenes

Regular readers of my blog will know (and if you don't, this thread will be helpful) I have a keen interest in the behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts that go into the making of a film, everything from matte paintings to miniature work and all points between.  I've done a few posts on this thread relating to Star Wars (on matte paintings from the original trilogy, the Millennium Falcon and Return Of The Jedi matte paintings), but thought it was high time for another.

So for the tenth entry in my Star Wars At 40 Celebrations, here are some behind-the-scenes images...
Top - filming at the Hotel Sidi Driss, in the Berber village of Matmata, which served as the sunken location of the Lars Homestead.  The exterior was filmed at Chott El Jerid, near Toezeur
Bottom - the scene as it appears in the film
Filming the Tusken Raider (stunt co-ordinator Peter Diamond, without his mask on here) at Sidi Bou Helal, near Tozeur.  George Lucas is fourth from the left on top of the rock.
A break during filming of the checkpoint sequence - "these aren't the droids you're looking for."  Gil Taylor, the director of photography is on the left with the yellow check shirt.
Building the crashed spaceship as seen in the Mos Eisley sequence, filmed at Ajim in Tunisia.  The 'set' was used to hide a modern-looking school in the village.
Shooting the drive-by, with the crashed spaceship in the background
I've always liked this shot (which I first saw in the Marvel Star Wars Collectors Edition), even though it's clearly posed.  George Lucas is far left, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca and Anthony Waye is far right.  He went on to unit manage and produce the James Bond series.
Mark Hamill, Anthony Waye and Harrison Ford wait for the elevator to be set up

Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and a scuba diver in the Trash Compactor set (with the Dianoga tentacle) at Elstree Studios.  They filmed on the set for two days and none of them liked it.  Mark Hamill, in a 1997 interview, said "Every time I got wet or, more specifically, too wet, I’d have to get out of this wet rubber outfit to get blown dry.  You’d get rashes in places you never thought possible."  Peter Mayhew, as Chewbacca, tried to avoid getting in the water but even so, his costume retained the smell of the dank water for the remainder of the shoot.
Filming the fleet getting ready to go, Mark Hamill sits on his X-Wing.  Special Effects supervisor John Stears (black shoes and beard) is to the left of the picture.
Mark Hamill was a fan of Peter Cushing and visited the set on his day off to watch the Death Star boardroom sequence being shot and get to meet his hero.  In a later interview, he said; "I did get to talk to him about working with Laurel and Hardy in 'A Chump At Oxford' and he told me about standing in for Louis Hayward in 'The Man In The Iron Mask'.  But like Alec Guinness, he was more interested in me. He said, “My dear boy, I don’t want to talk about me, let’s talk about your career.”"
Programming a move on the Dykstraflex system at ILM - from left, Richard Edlund, Doug Smith (at the computer) and John Dykstra looking through the viewfinder
At ILM, Ken Ralston (left) and Jon Berg work on blocking out the stop motion chess pieces
At ILM, Dave Beasley (left) and Paul Huston (who has managed to appear in every one of my ILM/movie miniature related blog posts) add detail to the smaller blockade runner model (which, was developed from the original Millennium Falcon idea).
Filming the larger Millennium Falcon model at ILM on the motion control system - from left, John Dykstra, Al Miller, Grant McCune, Steve Gawley, Jon Erland, Lorne Peterson and Bill Shourt
from left - Laine Liska, Phil Tippett, Jon Berg, Doug Beswick and Rick Baker
When the cantina sequence was shot in England, there weren't enough aliens or weirdness for George Lucas' liking, so he supplemented that footage with additional work carried out in California under the supervision of make-up legend Baker (one of my heroes).  His core crew were old friends who went on to be very involved in the Star Wars universe (especially Tippett)
Filming the surface of the Death Star in the ILM car park (the sunlight gave them the best exposures)
Richard Edlund programmes the Dykstraflex motion control system to film the opening crawl

2017 marks the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, which was released in the US on 25th May though it didn't hit the UK until 29th January 1978 (following a 27th December release in London).  I was lucky enough to see it in early 1978 and it remains my favourite film to this day.

To mark the anniversary, I'll be running a year-long blog thread about the film with new entries posted on the first Monday of each month.

May The Force Be With You!

Find all the entries in the thread here

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