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.