Behind the scenes on Star Wars: Macbeth


Whenever we read behind the scenes stories or interviews, we now know what they're talking about because we've lived through it ourselves! Needless to say, making a movie can be quite an experience. Here, we will attempt to bring this experience to you. Be sure to check out Frequently asked Questions about "Star Wars : Macbeth" and a copy of our original shooting script. Please contact us if you'd like to know more. If you've got a question, we'll do our best to find you an answer :-)

The Concept

Star Wars: Macbeth... who would have thought? Looking back of course, there were many similarities between Shakespeare's epic drama and Lucas' epic movie. After all they're both based on rather classical story types, they both contain largely dysfunctional families, and they both have headstrong heroes and powerful villians. In Macbeth, of course, the emphasis was placed on the villian, while Star Wars concentrated mostly on the hero. So why did we choose to combine the two? Simple - we wanted to make a Star Wars video, and we were studying Macbeth in English class. Bien Concepcion came rushing into the chemistry room after the bell to tell me that we were making a movie called "Star Wars Macbeth." The rest was history. (...or should I say Chemistry?)

The Odyssey Begins

The core crew of the movie was assembled within a matter of hours. Bien and Mike McKoy were set to play the two leads, and I was delegated to the character of Young Siward (who would become the Obi-Wan character of MACBETH) With about two weeks to winter vacation, we decided to film on our week off from school.

Yep... we would be spending our high school vacation INSIDE the high school.

We got permission from the principal and the custodians to film inside the building under the condition that we wouldn't break anything with our fake lightsabers. Mike wrote a script, which we adhered to rather effortlessly. The concept was simple... there was a fight between good and evil - Macduff was good, Macbeth was evil. Macduff became Luke, and Macbeth became Darth. The dialouge would be an amalgamation of Shakespeare and Lucas... many sections were unchanged from the text, but others were utilized to advance the plot and/or include a Star Wars reference. With a script, actors, a location, and a vauge idea of what we were getting into, we set out to make the movie.

On Location

On Day One, we trooped across two blocks and a busy thouroughfare in order to cart three boxes of video equipment and props from Bien's house to the high school to the high school. Half dressed in our costumes, we must have looked like complete idiots. Among our extensive selection of equipment we had...

  • A Darth Vader mask and black cape, and a yellow "Luke Skywalker" jacket.
  • A Sharp Viewcam camcorder
  • Two white plastic rods (that will become lightsabers)
  • A bedsheet that would become Lando (or Malcolms) cape.
  • A rather dangerous Halogen lamp. Yep, that's right. ONE light.
  • A couple power converters from the Toshi Station. (just kidding!)

On Day One, we trooped across two blocks and a busy thouroughfare in order to cart three boxes of video equipment and props from Bien's house to the high school to the high school. Half dressed in our costumes, we must have looked like complete idiots. Among our extensive selection of equipment we had...

We were lucky enough to obtain a fan on location, which added some pizazz to our final scene, which was filmed on the high school stage. (Red and blue lighting!)

It was hardest for Bien, who had to wear a rather uncomfortable costume for half the day. Not only was he sweating through the plastic, but it was rather difficult to order people around with a muffled voice and a Darth Vader outfit that looked somewhat silly. Therefore Bien and I shared duties as the director, seeing as that Bien at times had to concentrate on not falling down :-)

Many times we'd have unlookers gawking at our production. We let them stay and watch. Our crew was well fed - we had Pizza sometimes for lunch and there was a soda machine on location (check out the end credits for its cameo appearance!)

On the second to last day, Ray Perez came up with a great idea - let's use the Millenium Falcon to escape from the Death Star / High School! We decided that the spaceship would be housed in the gym, and added it later via special effects. We had two hours before they closed the school, and there was only one problem - the gym was in use!

We walked in to find fifteen cheerleaders practicing their routine for an upcoming game. We had no time, so we decided to go ahead with the shoot. We told the cheerleaders we'd be running around in Star Wars costumes for a couple minutes, grabbed a camera, and got a shot of four of us running towards the Millenium Falcon. You can look for the cheerleaders in the video, but you won't be able to find them - they're behind the composited Millenium Falcon toy spaceship!

Post Production

Four or five days later, we had enough footage to make a movie. Of course, by this point we were wishing we had spent our winter vacation elsewhere :-) We didn't think we had enough footage to make something that was even vaguely understandable, much less the epic that we desired.

As Bien began to edit, however, things began looking up. Scenes were coming together... the pacing began to work out. The music helped immensely. Kudos to John Williams, one of my favorite composers. As the music editor it was my job to take fifteen or so cues from John William's Star Wars trilogy and trackthe video with them ... this involved some rather crude editing, but the end result was a synergy between music and video that electrified the proceedings.

The special effects, especially the lighsabers, took forever. They had to be rotoscoped frame by frame. Rotoscoping basically means adjusting a video image one frame at a time - in this case it meant drawing over the video image with laser fire or a lightsaber's glow. How many frames are there per second? 30.

You do the math.

In any case, Bien made it happen. (I don't think he got much sleep that week) The final scene was coming together as well. We had taken the awards cemermony scene from A New Hope and placed the characters from Star Wars: Macbeth into the festivities. This took a massive blue screen draped across Bien's bedroom, and a lot of time spent getting it right. In the end, the four of us walked down the isle as if we were part of the video!

As the video, music, sound effects came together, we saw that we had something very cool on our hands. It was fun to watch ; especially for us, because we knew how each scene was made, as well as the ancedotes and stories that go along with any film production. We hoped that our class would like it too.

We held a cast and crew screening the night before school began. Myself, Bien, Mike, Rob, Ray, Rebekah, and Carl were there. We watched ourselves attempt to act in front of a video camera and bowled over with laughter... and pride, because we had begun something and seen it through to its completion. The video was exciting, easy to understand, funny, and yes, even a little bit epic. "Star Wars : Macbeth" wasn't going to change the world, but it would be an experience we'd never forget.

We held the tape in our hands...

And that's why you're reading this now. We wanted to share MACBETH with all Star Wars fans and film fans. We want you all to see how we spent last year's winter vacation. We want to give you some new Star Wars footage to tide you over until the prequels. :-) Check it out now... or find out more about us. Go back to the top of the page for some more links.

So you wanna try and make a video? An old jedi friend of mine once gave me some intersting advice :


Get out there and do it!


sound and music mix DONALD FITZ-ROY   edited by BIEN CONCEPCION   screenplay by MICHAEL
executive producer BIEN CONCEPCION

Content & Design by Don Fitz-Roy & Bien Concepcion | Last updated 4/15/2006
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