Interview

QUESTION & ANSWER SESSION WITH ADAM LOPEZ
Writer, Co-Producer, Actor (Adamkin Skywalker)
The Jedi Who Loved Me

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Q: WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO MAKE THE JEDI WHO LOVED ME?

A: Bloody good question! Why did we spend so many hours, days and months over the course of a year (1999–2000) on story development, location scouting, costume design, shooting in a freezing winter, post-production editing and special effects? Well, it all started with the announcement of a wedding. After I got engaged in May 1999, I couldn’t stop thinking of creating a short film to entertain our guests at our wedding in Toronto, Canada, scheduled for Summer 2000.

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Q: WHERE DID YOU GET THE STORY IDEA FROM?

A: I knew I would be spending winter 1999/2000 with my family in London, England, where I grew up, and all my old friends there were big Star Wars fans. So I came up with a Star Wars themed story, which told a fantastic tale of how I met my sweetheart Maria. I got in touch with a low-budget film-maker friend of mine in England, (director Henry Burrows), who I had worked with on two other films, and he was really excited to do it, and after that it all just snow-balled. After that, everybody I spoke to, friends, family, even the local pub landlord wanted to help to make a seemingly impossible dream of making a no-budget Star Wars movie come to life!

I’d written one short screenplay before, a spoof horror film also with Henry’s Foiled Productions, called Sunday Night Zombies (due out in 2001), but this screenplay was much more demanding. It had to feel like Star Wars, it had to be funny, it had to have action and romance, it had to be shot in London, it had to feature everyone I knew in it, and it had to be produced for no money. To cap it all off, it had to appeal to a diverse wedding audience including some people not that interested in Star Wars. Whew! No wonder it took three weeks of sleepless nights, some cool suggestions from three close friends and my sister, and two re-writes to finish the screenplay!

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Q: HOW DID YOU DO THE CASTING FOR JEDI?

A: Apart from the Princess (played by my fiancée Maria who flew over from Canada), I knew all the main cast would be made up from my UK-based family and friends. I wanted it to be a very personal film and so I created characters and even character names that were based as much on the actors who would be playing them as on real Star Wars characters! For example, my Mum and my niece play themselves, my real-life drinking buddies from school days play Adamkin’s two friends in the Cantina, and my wisest and smallest friend in real-life plays Master Yodo! And as for me, and my character (Uncle Adam/Adamkin Skywalker) yes I have to confess I have been described by my sister as the cheesiest, hammiest Uncle in the world, and in real-life I do love to tell bedtime stories to my niece Marianna!

For the evil Darth McMaul, interestingly enough, I cast my real-life best friend and Best Man at my wedding, Steven McCombe. Steve’s always been obsessed with the evil guys in Star Wars and when Episode I came out he immediately bonded with Darth Maul. So there really was no other choice for Darth McMaul in our film!

So had any of us acted before? Not very much to be honest, and certainly not professionally! A few of us had been involved in amateur plays and movies (Adam-kin, Darth, How-Ool) but for almost everybody else this was their first acting debut!

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Q: WHY DID YOU SHOOT JEDI IN LONDON?

A: For a number of reasons, Finchley, North London ended up as the main area for location shooting. Basically that’s where my family home still is and where many of my friends still live nearby. The bedtime story scenes and Yodo’s scene were shot in my old bedroom where I spent my childhood at my Mum’s house. The Cantina scene was shot in my favourite Irish pub in Finchley (O’Neills) where I often still meet my buddies for a pint or two whenever I’m in town. They were very cooperative with our shoot, allowing us to use the pub exclusively for the better part of two hours on a Saturday morning. As for the Princess Mariadala and Darth McMaul’s evil acts flashbacks, they were shot outside my Mum’s house and in the local park (Friary Park) in Finchley.

For the main fight scene between Adamkin and Darth, and the arrival of the Empire at the beginning of the movie I wanted to give a sense of a very grand city (in the script it’s called Londo City), and make maximum use of London’s signature landmarks. So for these scenes we basically went mad running around central London with a camera on some weekend mornings. These shots were mostly done by the river Thames in front the Houses of Parliament, in the Docklands Area, and of course in front of the Millennium Dome.

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Q: WHAT DID YOU SHOOT THE MOVIE ON?

A: We wanted to shoot Jedi on Digital Video, but we simply didn’t have the money (boo hoo!). So Super VHS it was. Actually we’re thrilled but a lot of people have asked us if it was DV, and our film was deemed to be of high enough quality to be played at the inaugural International Toronto DV Film Festival in December 2000!

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Q: HOW MUCH MONEY DID YOU SPEND ON JEDI?

A: Not very much at all. In fact I tell everyone half-jokingly, half-seriously that we made the whole of Jedi for less than $250! Everyone pretty much brought or made their own costumes and props and most items got “recycled” after the shoot was over.

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Q: WHAT DID YOU USE TO MAKE THE COSTUMES?

A: Masks and props for many of the aliens were bought at cheap toy stores for a few pounds, while other costumes were made from household items, and spray-painted silver! Two costumes in particular involved more time and money than the others: 1) Darth McMaul: as well as home-sewn robes this involved Steven McCombe spending 2 hours on makeup every morning of the shoot, and 2) IQ-44: Adamkin’s faithful power droid, a wonderful original creation made by Paul Isaacs from cardboard, plastic, and grey spray paint.

The lightsabre handles were probably the single most expensive items used, and were crafted at a metal workshop from solid aluminium, according to specs provided by Steve.

As for the authentic Star Wars Costumes i.e. the two Storm Troopers, the Boba Fett outfit and the Battle Droid, we didn’t make or buy those (no money or time!). So basically we spent months searching and found two very kind people on the internet who let us use them for our shoot: Steve Arnold at Heroes for Sale and Steve Carter.

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Q: HOW DID YOU CREATE THE SPECIAL EFFECTS?

A: People think we spent a lot of time, and a lot of money on these. Time, yes, but money, no. Really you’d be amazed what you can do with widely available desktop PC software nowadays. Last month a professional TV production company asked us how we did it! If you want the full technical details, check out the special effects section of this website.

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Q: ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENTS?

A: No. We don’t ever intend to make any money from The Jedi Who Loved Me. It is a not for profit, fan film made for private viewing. So hopefully Mr. Lucas won’t be calling his lawyers in a hurry!

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Q: HOW SUCCESSFUL HAS THE MOVIE BEEN?

A: “Success” of a not-for-profit film is a pretty abstract thing to measure! I guess the film can be judged in terms of its success by looking at the reaction of two different audiences – the original intended wedding audience, and everyone else!

The original audience was the 150 guests at my wedding to Maria Lopez on 15 July 2000 in Toronto, Canada. How did they receive it? Well, they just went wild! Many of the cast flew over to be there, to see it premiered on a giant 15-foot screen. The atmosphere during and after the screening was fantastic, with many people saying the movie made it the most original and fun wedding they had ever been to. The film even inspired some wedding games based on the movie, including who could do the best Master Yodo impersonation! We lost count of how many people ordered copies of the film afterwards, wanted to know where they could download it, and even suggested we enter it in for some film festivals.

So something happened after the wedding that I guess you could say we never originally planned for: people around the world started seeing our little film, and liking it! As well as making the movie available for download from the web - where we’ve had some great feedback - we went on to play The Jedi Who Loved Me at several film festivals. In fact before 2000 was over the movie was screened at five film festivals in four countries (England, Ireland, Germany and Canada), including the inaugural International Toronto DV Film Festival.

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Q: WILL THERE BE ANY SEQUELS?

A: A lot of people have asked us if we’ll make a sequel. To be honest making Jedi was a lot of work, but we had a lot of fun making it too, and we seem to have made some fans out there. I think if Episode II is really inspiring in 2002, and if enough people want to do it, and if we can get everyone together again, then maybe, and it’s a big maybe, we might just do a follow-up a year later. Do I think it’ll happen? I think it probably will. We love Star Wars, and Henry’s got a digital camera now (yay!) and heck if Maria and I have kids by then we can probably even write them into the script!

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Q: WHAT NEXT FOR THE MAKERS OF THE JEDI WHO LOVED ME?

A: Most of those in the crew on Jedi, also belong to a group called Foiled Productions and if you loved Jedi, you’ll probably love our other, non-Star Wars stuff too. We’re big on fantasy comedies! Visit our website for the latest news of our productions.

At the Foiled website, you can check out and download the trailer for our feature-length horror-comedy film, called Foiled (also released in 2000). It’s Scream meets the Blob in England, if you can imagine it!

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Q: WHO DO WE CONTACT IF WE HAVE ANY OTHER COMMENTS OR QUERIES ABOUT THE JEDI WHO LOVED ME?

A: Please either sign our comments page on this web site, or direct any comments or queries to me directly (adam.lopez (at) gmail.com) or to the director, Henry Burrows ). We’d love to hear what you liked, what you didn’t. Also tell us if you’d like us to send you a copy of the film on tape for screenings at any festivals you know of.

Thanks for taking an interest in The Jedi Who Loved Me. We hope you enjoy watching our film it as much as we enjoyed making it.

Until next time, take care, and of course, May the Force Be With You!

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