Sometimes you come across opportunities that are made of dreams... It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Star Wars, and I'm also not hesitant to work with the right charities, and in this instance, the Force has led me to this film. Rumors began to whirl about this project and I decided to submit my previous production photography work, I could feel the anxiety building, it's like the Emperor's grip was reaching in, no wait, maybe it was Vader's. None the less weeks went by as I was stand by and then I got the message... the Empire accepted my bidding (Yes, there will be lots of fan boy Star Wars references here because well you know, it's a fanboy thing). I was tasked to photograph behind the scenes and promotional content for "Star Wars Hand of the Empire", a fan film benefiting Norton's Children's Hospital. But let's take a step back for a minute on why this came to be. In 2016, Executive Producer Ken Daniels met a child by the name of Phil Parks, and he had a wish. This wish was to have a Storm Trooper kit for himself, unfortunately he passed away from brain cancer. Ken went on to explain this on day one of filming, and with a somber yet genuine inspiration, we all went in head first. Not only was this one of the largest film sets I'd been on, it was also brought to life through a pure culmination of donations ranging from skills and time to location hospitality and food as well as logistical and financial support. The hours were long, the heat was unreal, and the ticks, well they were definitely from the Dark Side!
I knew my time with the crew would be limited, so I had to capture what I could while on set. During the first weekend, I was stationed on Clipar, an agriworld reminiscent of Endor, the only difference was there were no Ewoks, there were those darn ticks. Following our lead troops, Cpt Quarrie, Sgt Saxon, Pvts Pizzo & Ramos through the bush, I was studying the light and figuring how to best capture these soldiers. I knew the Emperor had the utmost standards for them and I also knew if they didn't like how I portrayed them, well, let's say we all know Storm Troopers never miss with their blasters, right? I could not fail! Anyhow, I found a small nook off the beaten path were I pulled each of them to side to capture their portraits. I think they liked them, I mean I made it out.
My next assignment would be be to document our heroes Kanan Jarrus and Mara Jade and along with our lead protagonist Loto Tane, a mandalorian. So back on planet Earth, I was brought back to reality. I knew these characters needed to be portrayed in a noble and epic manner, there was only but one way to do this... modern portraiture in the studio. My style is heavily influenced by Annie Leibovitz and her work with Vanity Fair, so given I would be photographing characters from the Star Wars universe, I felt in my heart this was the only way that it should be done. We set a date, the Jedi and Mandalorian showed up, energies merged and the Force was with us once again. We discussed their personas and relationships with one another, I then formed a vision for the portraiture story and we got to work.
And here we are now, at the dawn of our work's release... the trailer has debuted at 2,300 views (within 24 hours), the engagement has been overwhelming and I do believe we all have done right by Phil. Now, without further ado, I'm humbled to present the production photography and my portrait documentary for Star Wars "Hand of the Empire", a charity fan film.
** Disclaimer - No Jawas were harmed during the making of this film.
Portraits of Jedi and a Mandalorian
John Wells as Kanan Jarrus
Jonathan Garlinghouse as Loto Tane
On Location at the Moon Clipar to document these TK's
Darrin Dickerson as Capt. Quarrie
Don West as Sgt. Saxon
Chad Zigmund as Pvt. Pizzo
Clark Spalding as Pvt. Ramos
Star Wars Hand of the Empire Official Trailer
Behind the Empire Lines
A few outakes under the Emporer's Nose
This is a personal journal about any given day in my photography career where I will blog about anything from portraits and headshots to sharing my educational experiences. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, it's my pleasure to share my stories with you!