Back in December 2014 I was planning to purchase tickets to attend a British Film Institute screening of the Original Star Wars Trilogy in London. Unfortunately I missed the release date and the event was also instantly sold out! I made a brief reference to this on Facebook and Toby Philpott, who I’ve know for some years now, kindly offered me his “plus one”. With this came access to the green room, where on the day I also managed to have conversations with Anthony Forrest, Garrick Hagon and Paul Blake. Sandtrooper, Biggs and Greedo to you and I.
During the fun proceedings and screenings I suggested to Toby that we do a short interview about his experiences on Return of the Jedi as one of Jabba the Hutt’s puppeteers. He kindly agreed. So a couple of weeks later in mid January 2015 we spoke a length over Skype. It was soon apparent that this interview would be better suited to a longer, but still mini, documentary.
My friend Pete Starling who made those amazing posters for Raiding the Lost Ark and Inside Jaws agreed to work on a more accurate illustration of how Jabba was worked by the puppeteers. We were soon all in a Facebook chat group along with Animatronic Engineer John Coppinger and Toby’s fellow puppeteers Dave Barclay (right arm and lipsync and Mike Edmonds (tail). Thanks to fantastic input from all, we were able to piece together just how Jabba worked and finally debunk the lazy drawing that was shown in The Making of a Saga, Lucasfilm’s official doco from back in the day. I hope you agree, Pete did an amazing job!
Scott Burrows kindly offered to do a Jabba animation showing an over enthusiastic Toby-operated tongue licking Carrie Fisher. His pitch of a funny Terry Gilliam style animation turned out better than I could have imagined.
So with all the pieces put together, including a last minute stop motion animation effort also by Pete Starling, I was able to make Slimy Piece of Worm Ridden Filth – Life Inside Jabba the Hutt. Pete’s young son even managed to make an appearance on the closing credits, albeit in disguise! A really funny way to finish things off.
Click here to check it out. I hope you enjoy it.
Kevin Pike worked not only on Back to the Future, but also on Return of the Jedi. We spoke about his work on the Location Special Effects on the 1983 film. Back in 1982 Kevin was in Yuma Arizona for the Sarlaac scene as well as in Crescent City, California for the Endor scenes. This is a short interview about his experiences. This is the first video produced that was supported by my Patreon account. If you donate $3 or more then you also get an extended audio version of the interview including the bits where I talk!
Check it out here.
For some time now, several people have suggested I get my projects crowd funded. But given the nature of my filmumentaries (the unofficial and non copyrighted nature that is) I couldn’t really go down that route.
So the solution was to change the type of projects that I do. Whilst I am continuing to pursue getting my filmumentaries into the sphere of officialdom (I currently have three routes developing, albeit slowly), I thought I would start a Patreon account to get some smaller projects under way.
Much in the same vein as my interview with Kevin Pike, I intend to use the connections I’ve made to release standalone interviews, approximately one per month (no more than that). These interviews will be audio, but augmented in the usual Filmumentaries fashion.
If you would like to support me in this endeavour, please visit my Patreon page. Thank you.
In the final part of my interview with Kevin Pike about Back to the Future, I asked him what it was like to be on set the day he heard about the major cast change. You can check it out below.
Whilst I continue to endeavour to make my filmumentary projects in an official capacity, with the studios’ support, I have decided to make some short docos and interviews about and with people in the film industry. You may have already seen my interview with Kevin Pike about his work on Back to the Future. Well now I want to produce some more. To make this all viable, I would really appreciate your help. Please visit my Patreon page here – http://www.patreon.com/jamiebenning
If you’d rather donate a single amount, please use the donate button on the homepage (or just below). To be clear, these donations are to allow me to continue to run this website and produce the short videos and interviews, like the ones I recently did with Kevin Pike. Thanks so much for your support.
For part two of my interview with Special Effects Supervisor Kevin Pike, we spoke about bringing the inanimate car alive. Of course the DeLorean is one of the most fondly remembered characters in Back to the Future but without the likes of Kevin Pike and his team, it just wouldn’t be the same.
Whilst I wait for my deal with the studio to come off – keep your fingers crossed for me – I’ve decided to start Going Back…to the Future. For now it will take the form of some “painted” interviews with those involved with the film.
First off, I spoke to Special Effects Supervisor Kevin Pike (now the owner of Filmtrix). Here is part one of the interview in which Kevin talks about the opening sequence of Robert Zemeckis 1984 masterpiece.
A few months back a nice chap named Steven Russell, an agent by day and film enthusiast and S4 Film Club founder by night, contacted me via Twitter to ask if I’d be interesting in having a screening of one of my filmumentaries at the Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel, London. The club night’s format consists of a short film showing, a Q&A with the director and then a audience vote, picking from three films that have inspired the creator.
Steven wanted to do something similar with my filmumentaries. First a Q&A with yours truly and then an audience vote to pick between Star Wars Begins, Raiding The Lost Ark and Inside Jaws. My pal and genius artist Pete Starling of Electrographica was even kind enough to come up with a poster for the event (see below). Apparently this image came to him as he was falling to sleep one night!
The evening was attended by some forty five friends and strangers. The Q&A went well (see photo below) and the Genesis Cinema want me back in the future to do another night.
Thanks to everyone that came along. I hope to see you there again soon.
NB: I received no payment for the evening in keeping with my free, non profit ethos.
Inspired in part by my recent purchase of an HD projector, I’ve gone ahead and upgraded the titles and subtitles on Star Wars Begins. The source of the videos remain the same, the original unaltered trilogy DVD from 2006 being the bulk of it of course, but now the titles and subs are that bit sharper for viewing on HD devices.
Back in 2011, I interviewed the brilliant Wolf Kahler aka Colonel Dietrich in a noisy coffee shop in North London for my filmumentary project Raiding the Lost Ark. Below is a link to the full interview.
Wolf Kahler Full Interview
After an invite to a movie set in late July, things began to look great in the world of filmumentaries. I met genuine film stars, a famous director and got to observe them all at work for a couple of hours. Following this, a meeting with the director who repeatedly told me that he thought I made “the best making ofs ever”. A real buzz. He went on to say that he’d love to work with me. I would carry on what I was doing but with the access to film studios, distributors and infrastructure that he could offer. A dream come true. Well since late July contact has been very friendly but sporadic. Me desperately trying to get the ball rolling. The director, very busy as one might expect. He has recently become big time and is currently doing deals all over the place. My projects are small fry but I continue to feel confident that we will get together to make this happen.
Then only last week whilst I was in Austin Texas, another California based company got in touch to talk about bringing my ideas to work alongside their technology. I can’t talk about either of these proposals in any detail at the moment but I am extremely excited about both. I haven’t yet given myself the luxury of jumping up and down. I’ll save that for the dotted line moment.
I just wanted to thank you all for the continued support and interest in my projects. Keep watching over the next couple of months for some hopefully very exciting news.
Well it has been about a month since I put Inside Jaws online, reaching out and clicking the “submit” button with my eyes closed, hoping that fans, casual viewers, reviewers, colleagues and friends would enjoy it. Only a matter of days later I was blown away by the response. Colleagues patting me on the back. One even saying “you almost look like you know what you’re doing”. A hell of a compliment. A “Staff Pick” on Vimeo.com and plenty of movie news outlets making encouraging noises.
For me, the greatest compliment came from an educator in the U.S, saying that he uses my films in his teaching, describing them as “invaluable educational tools…His filmumentaries help show how good, practiced authors weave original sources, research, and voices into a magnificent peace of rhetoric“. This means more to me than the recognition from The New York Times and Vulture somehow. It’s great to feel that I’ve contributed something worthy of helping people to learn. Particularly when this is really just a little hobby of mine.
So, what next? That is the question I’ve been asked numerous times recently. Well, this marks the first time since 2006 that I haven’t been working on a filmumentary. My fiancé may see it differently, looking at me with suspicious eyes as I watch all the Ghostbusters DVD and Blu ray extras. As I read the excellent Don Shay book “The Making of Ghostbusters” and make annotations and notes. I’m sticking to my guns though. I haven’t done my usual first step of placing a feature film on an FCP timeline. I am just tentatively checking out my options. Yesterday I watched the excellent “In the Actor’s Studio, With Michael J. Fox” for instance. Today I might watch the BTTF Blu ray extras. If I have time between wedding planning and work that is!
When I do decide, you’ll be the first to know. Though I am still hoping that my email to Universal, saying that I want to do an official filmumentary on BTTF will get a reply soon.
In other good news I have a big interview coming out in the print edition of the New York Times this coming sunday (21st July). I must try to track down a copy in the UK. There is also talk of the Inside Jaws posters being included in a couple of exhibitions in Germany and the U.S. But most of all and perhaps most encouraging, people seem to be more able to say “filmumentary” without getting tongue tied.