Do or do not. There is no try. The making of a Star Wars short.

This summer I got to live out my life-long dream of making a Star Wars movie(s).

Every year, Jordan Vineyard & Winery throws a legendary invite-only Halloween party with each year getting more and more elaborate. Around 400 friends, family, and trade attend.

With the announcement (and pleading) to make 2014’s Halloween Party Star Wars themed, the only way to do the invitation right was to make an epic video.

Make an epic video you shall.

I got the green light to do two videos: a Save the Date and an Invitation and was given a wardrobe budget. My ridiculous, border-line obsessive knowledge of the Star Wars universe would not go to waste! I had been training my whole life for this.

Do or do not. There is no try.

Where most people would shoot a video running around as a stormtrooper, I decided to take it a few steps further…like 20 steps further.

Building a set: You must unlearn what you have learned. 

The Save the Date would be a re-enactment of the beginning of episode 4 with a Halloween and wine twist. The amazing Jordan maintenance team and I worked around the clock for 2 weeks.

LE9A3961toned_web  photo 2Star Wars Set  LE9A4089toned_1

LE9A4092tonedNow, witness the power of this fully operational battle station.

With a tight-budget, we had to get very creative. We made the ceiling panels out of white bed sheets with lights hanging above them for diffusion. The panels on the wall were plastic tubs from Office Max, all of the detail work was spray-painted paint sticks cut up. The bottom curvatures were cardboard recycled from wine pallets, and last but not least, stacked wine racks held the walls up on either side.

Aren’t you a little short to be a stormtrooper?

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Me testing out one of the stormtrooper costumes

I was simultaneously working on a shot for shot analysis and replication of this scene in the movie, casting Jordan employees as well as working with our awesome Marketing Manager, Lori Green, who had the difficult task of finding and making all of the costumes and props. LE9A4096tonedFYI, Rebel Fleet Trooper costumes do not exist. Their helmets you see are in fact bike helmets custom tweaked to replicate the ones in the movie. The costumes had to be pieced together with tactical vests and shirts, cargo pants, and dairy boots.

Review_RebelFleetTrooperTVC_stillBScreen Shot 2014-09-10 at 3.53.39 PM

Orignal vs Remake

 The force is strong with this one.

With only a quick dress rehearsal, we completed the entire shoot in just 3 hours. The Jordan employees were naturals. IMG_3136And just like that, I had shot my very first Star Wars movie. Getting paid to play Star Wars all day…that’s the dream, right?

Then the editing process began. After picture lock, I sent it off to my classmates Ryan and Dan from Ohio University for animation and special effects. I could tell you how great they are but you should see it for yourself.

Watch the Save the Date below:

The Invitation: Victory? Victory you say? Master Obi-Wan, not victory. The shroud of the dark side has fallen. Begun the Clone War has. 

Remember that epic battle scene in Attack of the Clones on Geonosis? That big arena fight? That was my inspiration for the Invitation. How about a full out battle between the light and dark sides with characters from all six movies?

YES. We had essentially 2 weeks from when we shot the Save the Date until the filming of the Invitation.  I worked around the clock and re-watched every Star Wars battle scene.

A side by side comparison of my storyboard to the finished footage

I started to storyboard, cast, and location scout. I had to work with what we had at the winery and make it as epic as possible. I only had a 2 1/2 hour shooting window and 35 employees to turn into warriors in a very short period of time.

Light Saber Training: An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.

Ahhhh light saber choreography. Of course Jordan Winery’s owner, John Jordan, had a friend that had done light saber training in the past. We brought him in and trained shifts of employees not just choreography, but how to move, how to hold a light saber, and how to fight.

We had our very own LARP (live action role playing) session during work hours. Our Marketing Manager, Lori, once again had to find costumes for 35 employees. Try to find an ewok costume for an adult. Go ahead. Try.

I’ve been waiting for you, Obi-wan. We meet again at last.

Behind the Scenes of the Star Wars Invitation video

The battle began…as some of you may know, war gets pretty intense. I think I blacked out most of it. I do remember it was hot. Jordan employees were such troopers…Stormtroopers that is!

Anyway, here’s the final video:

Hope you enjoy. May the Force be with you.