Paul M. Newitt shared a great post on his experience on the set of Return of the Jedi today with some amazing unseen images of Jabba’s Sail Barge (Paul’s FB post)
reposted here with permission
“PAUL M. NEWITT’S AMAZING ADVENTURES” #32:
THE MAKING OF “RETURN OF THE JEDI” IN YUMA ARIZONA.
With the impending release of “Star Wars The Force Awakens”, here’s the story of my adventure to an actual Star Wars filming location in California, a stone’s throw from Yuma, Az…..It was during April of 1982 that a friend’s “newspaper boy” told him that he and his dad were driving their ATV motorcycles out in the desert, and saw that they were “making a Star Wars Movie” near Yu…ma, Arizona. Word spread quickly amongst the fans our Star Trek/Sci-Fi club, “STAR San Diego”, and like a scene from “It’s a Mad-Mad-Mad World”, a contingent of vehicles quickly made the trek east from San Diego, to “Buttercup Valley”, a state park, that’s well known to Hollywood where the “Rat Patrol” TV series, and “The Last Flight of the Phoenix” (original film) was shot. When we drove out there, we discovered that, off the main highway, there was a southbound road that was watered down to get to the site. Driving up a sand knoll, I was greeted with the incredible site of Jabba’s Sand Barge (although we had no idea what it was then). It was HUGE, and so impressive! I thought: “Science Fiction is REAL!!”. I took about four -36 exposure rolls of 35mm slides, that I scanned. Among the photos in my album, they include:
(NOTE: ALL photos are Copyright 2015 by Paul M. Newitt!, but you are welcome to “share” this page on FB).
– Yes, that’s me in the Cowboy hat! (I found it, so I put it on!!! LOL)
– Views of the Sand Barge, as we saw aliens sticking their faces from the shutters. Lots of activity on the set!
– A helicopter flyover with a round camera mount, for flyover scenes (I think I saw ILM’s Richard Edlund step out of the copter when it landed)
– We saw a forklift next to an A-framed setup, which was for the scene of lifting R2 and 3PO out of the sand.
– We saw the skiffs, and stunt people practicing on them, to fall onto padding below.
– Several R2 units were lifted into the barge for different FX scenes.
– We saw the speeders just waiting to be used. Gotta wonder if they were intended for use by the Empire in the Sand Barge scenes, and it was cut out?
– We saw Mark Hamill, and he was gracious enough to talk to us through the cyclone fence (in checkered blue robe) surrounding the set. The nicest guy that he is, I remember him saying: “we should really make a movie named “Blue Harvest”.
– We saw Carrie up on the deck with the gun, in her metal bikini. Kind of a WOW moment….only by more curious attention on some sort of guy with a jetpack flying into some sort of pit!!
– The bunch of us had to “hide” in front of a bulldozer blade during a short sandstorm while we were there.
– Overall it was a spectacular visit, and some of us went out there three or more times!! It was hot and dusty but way too much fun!! It took until 1984, when Jedi premiered to know how all of this would make sense, and just who “Jabba” was!!