Star Wars fan film teaser – Aug. 8 in Ramsey Auditorium

AD’s Bruce Worthel and Duane Newhart film a scene in Wilson Hall’s Atrium.

Wilson Hall’s second-floor comitium room starts to take shape as the cantina in a Star Wars fan film. Photo: Cindy Arnold

A long time ago in a national laboratory far, far away. some physicists looked around their workplace and thought of dark forces. Not dark matter; not dark energy; but the ultimate force from the dark side: Darth Vader.

Now, nearly six years later, employees and users at Fermilab can view the results: the first full-length Star Wars fan film. Well, actually, you can see the first 20 minutes, for now.

The cast members of Star Wars: Forgotten Realm, of which more than two dozen are Fermilab employees, wants to thank Fermilab for its cooperation in filming by offering a sneak peek at 12:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8, in Ramsey Auditorium. Fox Valley TV also will air the first 20 minutes of the film later this year on Channel 17. The TV station allowed the crew use of its green room and equipment to work on some of the special effects for the film.

Several of the scenes of the movie were filmed at Fermilab, including in the NUMI tunnel, during off-work hours. This first part of the movie showcases the prairie. The two-hour film was shot under the direction of Darren Crawford, the laboratory’s Accelerator Operations crew chief. Crawford capitalized on the laboratory’s concrete-walled, industrial-looking experimental tunnels and its natural prairies to create the stark, wild look of a futuristic world. Computer-aided special effects, generated with the help of co-workers, promise to give the film a polished, if not Hollywood, look. While Lucas Productions does not endorse the film, it does allow fans to make and show films as long as they don’t charge admission.

The actors include fellow Fermilab workers and their friends and relatives. Grade-school children played diminutive Jawa creatures; they were the only ones who fit the costumes. Physicists and engineers brought science-related gadgets, such as Tesla coils and Lichtenberg figures, to add a 1970-style sci-fi feel to the cantina scene. A local artist provided an adult-sized, moving robot.

The Midwest Garrison of the 501st Legion: Vader’s Fist, a worldwide organization of Star Wars costuming enthusiasts, supplied several actors, as well as costumes and props. The trailer of the movie was a finalist in the 2010 Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge. The challenge’s award ceremony was attended by George Lucas. Next year the producers of the completed movie will be submit the film to the 2012 Star Wars Fan Film Challenge. It will also be shown on Fox Valley TV and potentially at Fermilab.

Click here to watch some behind the scenes footage shot in 2007.

Movie trailer

Film blog

Tona Kunz