Ghost Moon Productions
Welcome to Vader's Apprentice, an Ottawa, Ontario based Star Wars fan film that went into production spring 2008 and should be ready to premier by spring 2010. Written by Sara Cochran and directed by Amber Peters of Ghostmoon Productions, this nearly feature-length film draws on classic Star Wars lore and legend to craft a tale of ambition, cruelty and deceit. Childhood friends, star-crossed lovers and bitter enemies will all have to face off in order to determine who is truly worthy of being the next Sith Lord. Six of the most powerful force users in the galaxy are on a quest to prove that they are the best, but in the end only one can be...Vader's Apprentice.
About the making of the script
The 31-page script for Vader’s Apprentice was dictated by Sara Cochran and typed by Amber Peters over a period of several months. Sara and Amber would work on the script while watching Sara’s two children, aged two and eight, or while Sara cleaned house. These stolen afternoons soon stretched into a 36-scene film, which despite numerous drafts maintained the heart of the original tale: six hopefuls, but only one apprentice. Updates and revisions to the script continued throughout filming to meet the needs and realities of a large-scale production, with some scenes lengthened, shortened, or removed altogether as the movie came together.
Costume demands for Vader’s Apprentice were intense: six apprentices to dress as Sith and innumerable extras all in need of appropriate Star Wars costumes. The main characters were dressed by Sara Cochran, the scriptwriter and an accomplished wardrobe manager. Her other works have appeared in the Almonte Valley Player’s version of Moliere, and she has also volunteered her time and talent with the local high school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Most of the secondary cast were able to create their own costumes and the extras of Vader’s Apprentice are notable for the creativity and artistry inherent in many of the outfits. As for the Imperials seen throughout the film: a special thanks goes out to the Star Wars 501st, a volunteer organization which supports local charities and appears at special events such as the Sci-Fi Spectacular Concert held at the National Arts Center.
Where do you shoot a movie that takes place primarily on a futuristic space vessel? Why in the Diefenbunker, of course, Canada’s Cold War museum. On most weekends the cast and crew would begin assembling around 4:30 in the afternoon as the last museum tour was wrapping up for the night. Craft services set out coffee, tea, pop and snacks and while the cast got into makeup and costumes and began rehearsing lines, the rest of the crew set up lights, props and sound equipment. More than once, the day’s shooting wouldn’t finish until two or three in the morning, when an exhausted production staff would drag themselves home. For other scenes, the director took advantage of farmland, cottages and pubs kindly lent for filming.
The cast and crew would like to thank the staff and volunteers of the Diefenbunker, Mr. and Mrs. John Piche for the generous use of their home and land, Ballygiblin's Restaurant & Pub and also *name of owner of cottage*, as none of this would have been possible without them.
When looking for Sith, a director has to use all the resources available to her. Largely through word-of-mouth, email campaigns and social networking sites like Facebook, Amber was able to drum up dozens of hopefuls when she began auditions in May of 2008. Most of the main talent was actually recruited through Jean Vallaincourt, the film’s fight choreographer and a professional Kenjitsu and South-Tower Broadsword instructor. Skilled swordsmanship was obviously of huge importance when casting the film, and so Jean was also present during the auditions. Carleton Place Cinema was packed with actors that Sunday afternoon, and while there were many talented people available, Sara and Amber eventually had to narrow down their choices to the final six. Nearly everyone who answered the casting call later returned as extras, crew, hair/makeup/wardrobe help, or all of the above.
A Star Wars film cannot exist without fight scenes. All of the actors had some kind of martial arts experience, anywhere from a few years of Tai Kwon Do and Kung Fu to over thirty years of training in half a dozen different fighting styles. Justin Chow (Yancarow) had even worked as an assistant instructor for Algonquin College’s Chivalrous Swordhandling classes. Everyone was committed to learning the often exhausting choreography, learning new fighting styles or polishing old favourites. The challenge for Jean was to create six distinctive fighting styles which would match the characters in the film, while incorporating the strange physics of lightsabers: incredibly light, indestructible, unstoppable. That he did so is a testament to his incredible experience and dedication to what seemed an impossible task: take six regular people and turn them into Sith. Thanks to Jean, it is Sith they became.
Put enough people into a cold war bunker, and things are bound to get strange. The cast and crew will remember the doors they were told to never, ever close because they couldn’t be opened; apparently the locking system had gone out of style sometime in the early nineties. On the third-to-last day of filming the cast spent nearly an hour slogging through a lake, and by the end of it were ready to slog the director. Luckily, she just got dunked instead (once the camera was safely out of her hands, of course). Everyone will remember the near-frigid temperatures of the mid-September campout, bonfires and all. From driving ATVs through picturesque countryside to nearly fainting from mid-July heat stroke, the cast and crew of Vader’s Apprentice will certainly have plenty of memories, and more than a few permanent scars from over-zealous fight practice and broken lightsabers. Still, we all survived, and one way or another we’ll never forget the fun and frustration of this incredible experience.