Fermilab, Batavia, IL
Story by Chris Spice (Darth Spice)
Photos by Jason D. Meyers (Dead Hero, Ret.)

 

FROM GYROS TO HEROES
For several months we’ve heard about the production of the Star Wars fan film Forgotten Realm that is being directed by Darren Crawford. Today Dustrho and I made ourselves available with many other members of the Midwest Garrison as volunteer Stormtroopers for the shooting of some of the action scenes. I recruited the services of our old friend Jason D. Meyers to provide a little extra “ground support” for this mission. We landed our crafts around high noon on the high prairie of Batavia, IL, which was a nice 75 plus degrees by the time we arrived. I was pretty impressed once again with the amount of effort put into fan made productions. I was astonished when I learned the first thing we’d be doing would be eating lunch! We were provided with pizza, gyros and Italian beef sandwiches that we all enjoyed. There was enough food to feed a regiment of Vader’s finest and I don’t think anyone went into the rehearsal with a growling stomach. I was also very impressed they had a massage therapist on hand to help get the cast and crew ready to go the distance. It is a shame Mrs. Jan DiMasi couldn’t make it to every 501st function, as that was truly a gift from the maker!

The film is set seven years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, which opens the door of that gap in time many of us as fans would so much love to see and hear more about. I do feel they did bridge the gap well between Episodes III and IV but there is so much more the world of Expanded Universe has to offer us. It was a good thing the crew ran us through the scenes a few times to get everyone comfortable with what they were doing. There were so many people that responded to the call, we even had an extra Trooper but we all know you can never have too many. There were several props assembled for us to work with, but I have to say the terrain was a bit difficult to walk around without feeling a little uneasy. Our team of Stormtroopers, Officers and there was even an Imperial Scanning Crew technician on hand to prevent any sort of breakdowns! In fact our biggest enemy, very similar to the prequel films, was the weather conditions. I guess you could say we all welcomed the first sunburn of the year but the wind was ripping pretty good and I found myself having trouble simply standing at times.

Our S.C.A.L.P. Weapons Supplier found himself cast in a major role, complete with dialogue! Even Fox news Chicago was on hand to see what all the hype was about. I won’t reveal too much of the plot lines, but a Jedi named Web Mallick gave the Vader’s Fist all they could handle. Another fascinating aspect of the shoot was the willingness of the Troops to hit the ground after taking fire! While I personally didn’t have to hit the deck, they did a job of making it look like they took a shot. We filmed into the late evening and I was very impressed with the dedication, professionalism and commitment on a volunteer project. I can honestly say I can’t wait for 2009 for what is said to be a two-hour plus film. Stay tuned to Sandtroopers.com for further updates, and thanks again to the Midwest Garrison and Darren Crawford and crew for allowing us to participate in this. Even Sandtrooper Jason took one for the team as he twisted his ankle just as we were leaving on the rough terrain I spoke of earlier. It was a bit strange to see a Sandtrooper receiving the pain instead of delivering it! Overall I can say I enjoyed the experience and wouldn’t hesitate to do something like this again if given the chance.

PHOTO GALLERY
To see the photo gallery containing 53 photos click here.