A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… – Working on Star Wars : Episode 1

A long time ago…

…in a studio near Watford England I worked on a film called Mortal Kombat Annihilation which Nick Dudman came in to run the creature effects. While we were working on that film at Leavesden studios, Nick said he had a meeting with a producer about an upcoming film set in a galaxy far far away…

When Nick finally told us what it was, we flipped! It was Star wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace!!!!!!! (yes we all know how hated Jar Jar Binks was but remember this was the first Star Wars film since Jedi, and the creatures in Jedi made me want to make monsters!).

About a week after Nick got the confirmation about Star Wars, myself and the rest of the Mortal Kombat crew headed off to Thailand to shoot the rest of the film for the following 10 weeks…To be honest it was hard trying to keep focused on Mortal Kombat when Nick was back in the UK prepping Star Wars.

I remember the day we started on Star Wars which was March 1997 because it was when the Special edition of the original film came out and the film crew were treated to a special showing of the 1977 updated classic!

The creature workshop was such a great place to be, we had loads of the original creatures from Jedi that we cleaned up and used in the background as well as reproducing newer versions of these characters. I’d sculpted quite a few Aliens from Jabba’s palace to fill out the background scenes. At one point George Lucas had asked Nick if his creature crew wanted to design a few Jedi council characters and one of my designs got picked. I designed and Applied SAESEE TIIN. Seeing this character sat in the Jedi Council scene was pretty cool as we got to see Frank Oz perform Yoda, a lot of the crew turned up for that day to watch the Jedi Master at work!

Another iconic character I got to sculpt & apply was Bib Fortuna, it was such an honour to be handed this character as I knew that my boss Nick Dudman has made this character in Return of the Jedi.

This time Bib was played by a great actor called Alan Ruscoe, but his role was in a small scene in the senate sequence which was a shame. In the pod race you see Bib standing next to Jabba the Hutt and if you look closely you’ll see that he looks different to the images I’ve posted of Alan in the make up because this scene was shot much later on over at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) I’m not even sure who wore my Bib Fortuna prosthetics for this scene…

I also got to work on Jar Jar Binks, sculpting the body suit for the actor to wear as a lighting reference on set. Who would of thought that this character would be disliked as much as he was. A few years later while we were working on Harry Potter 1, Nick got asked to get involved in a few days of pick ups on Attack of the Clones, the main film was shot over in Australia but they did the pick ups over at Ealing Studios, So myself and a few other creature prosthetics Artists went back into Star Wars universe were we stood on vast green screens with our characters.

Its hard to believe that we started on Star Wars Episode 1 nearly 17 years ago, where did the time go!…

Til next time…who knows what galaxy I’ll be coming from then…

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