Hide your Ewoks, a new “Star Wars” film is currently shooting in the Lowcountry.
Unlike the mega budgeted spectacles made by George Lucas and J.J. Abrams, though, this unofficial chapter of the saga is being made on a budget just north of $14,000 by students from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
“Odyssey: A Star Wars Story” is described on the Kickstarter page that raised funds for the film as “a war film set in the ‘Star Wars’ universe. Our goal for this project is to show you the gritty and intense struggle that rebel squads faced in the years before the death star.”
The Kickstarter page shows off beautiful concept art for the short film, and has a video with some bits of footage that hold their own with anything in the franchise.
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Fitting in with the look and feel established in previous “Star Wars” movies was important for “Odyssey” co-writer/director and SCAD sophomore Mark Alex Vogt.
“Given that it is a ‘Star Wars’ film, there is a certain look that we wanted to have,” said Vogt of the film, which is set five years before 2016’s “Rogue One.” “We wanted the audience to feel like this was a universe they still knew, but the action and story and cinematography had to go to new places. We had to be bold and say ‘what would it look like if we made a Vietnam style war movie, but with ‘Star Wars?’”
Working on the film alongside Vogt are several friends and colleagues from SCAD.
“We’ve all worked together on several projects,” said Vogt in the project’s Kickstarter video. “We really work together so well as a unit because we fill in each others strengths and weaknesses and we play really well off of that.”
Students aren’t the only ones working on the film. It is a hybrid production, with professional film artisans helping to make the script, written by Vogt and Mitchell Smalenski, a reality.
“It has been nice to use the tools the school provides for us and mix that with the professional world,” said Vogt. “It has been a great experience for the students to be involved in working with professionals and see what its going to be like after school.”
On Saturday, Vogt and his crew were spotted filming “Odyssey” on Hunting Island. The next day, the person who spotted them took to the Hunting Island State Park (SC), Beaufort & Camping (Memories) Facebook group to share their excitement over what they saw. The reaction has been overwhelming.
The post has garnered over 600 reactions and has been shared over 1,400 times since going up Sunday morning.
Pictures of the production have blown up all over the internet. Yesterday Vogt and his crew even found themselves trending at the top of Reddit.
“Reddit thought that we were actually reshoots for ‘Solo’ (a new official ‘Star Wars’ film coming out in May),” said Vogt. “They thought that we were actually an American unit that was reshooting part of the actual film, and the crew got the biggest compliment out of that, because they looked professional enough to be mistaken for the real deal.”
Filming on “Odyssey” is also taking place at Fort Fremont on St. Helena Island, where a gun battery will be turned into an Imperial outpost, and in Savannah, where a full size cargo ship set has been built on a soundstage.
As the word of his small but determined production spreads, Vogt has been floored at the positive reactions it has been getting, especially since the project, and his desire to become a filmmaker in fact, grew out of a comparable excitement about the original films.
“These are the movies that made me fall in love with storytelling,” said Vogt. “I knew the further I got in life the more difficult it would be to make a film like this. I figured ‘you know what? We’re right in the middle of school. It’s a great time to just go out and do it.’”
The trailer for the film will debut on YouTube and the film’s official site, odyssey-film.com, on “Star Wars Day,” so named for the date that it falls on, May 4, as in “May the 4th be with you.”
The film itself will make its online debut on those same sites May 25, the same day “Solo: A Star Wars Story” hits theaters.
Delayna Earley: 843-706-8151