The First Ever Day On Set – Star Wars First-Evers #1
There's truly nothing quite like the first time ever! Welcome to episode one of a brand new series, aptly titled Star Wars First-Evers. Today we'll be venturing all the back to the 22nd of March, 1976 – the day in which filming began on one of cinema's most revolutionary films! Let's take a closer look...
Having been rejected by more studios than he could have possibly fathomed, George Lucas was finally ready to begin filming on Star Wars following a three-year-long pre-production phase. But that's not to say the project he had fought so passionately for was going to be plain sailing. First of all, there were still problems at large with the costumes for C-3PO and the stormtroopers. And secondly, Industrial Light & Magic were still unsure whether or not they could pull of the necessary visual effects to fully realise George's vision. Yet the show had to go on, so to speak, and thus the cast and crew prepared themselves for a rather difficult shoot.
After arriving in Djerba, Tunisia, and spending a night in a hotel sprawling with confused German tourists (seriously, none of them could find their rooms!), the cast and crew woke up at the crack of dawn for a long drive to Tozeur. Their next hotel was closed for renovations, because of course it was! Meaning everyone had to make do with fourth-rate hotels, in which they crammed themselves into – sometimes doubling or even tripling the recommended capacity of each room. Luckily, shooting was only ever said to last two weeks, not two or three months. So the happy campers – or rather those who wished they were instead camping – continued forth on their quest to make Star Wars.
With hopes of filming Uncle Owen's procurement of C-3PO and R2-D2, as well as the classic scene where Luke gazes upon Tatooine's twin suns, the cast and crew ventured out to the salt lake of Chott el Jerid. There, Anthony Daniels struggled with tiredness and a golden costume that was far too tight. But despite all of that, and the two hours required to put on such a thing, he soldiered on alongside the much happier Mark Hamill. Otherwise, the rest of the shoot went well, right? Well, no, not quite. Whether it be astromech droid batteries that depleted far too quickly, astromech droid remotes that barely functioned, or having to pull R5-D4 along a rope after destroying its internal components, it's fair to say filming in Tunisia proved rather troublesome. But by 7:20pm, it was time for the cast and crew to head back to the shoddy hotels from which they arrived. And that, my friends, was the very first day of filming on the set of Star Wars!