Elstree 1976 charts the lives of ten people who were featured in some way in the original Star Wars film. This includes people we know already: David Prowse (the body of Darth Vader), Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) and Paul Blake (Greedo) are all involved. There are also a few people who were extras only, including one who was in the film for less than a second. They didn’t realise at the time but their involvement with the film would come to define their lives, something that they have forever been associated with and can’t get away from, whether they like it or not.
This film promises to find out their side of the story, through a series of interviews with all of them and footage of them at conventions, giving a side of the story never seen before. The filmmakers are keen to stress that this is not just a film to provide Star Wars fans with loads of new stories about the making of the film. I think this is a wise move – the stories have been told so many times and if you’re really interested in that side of things you probably have all of the various DVDs and Blu-rays with their respective bonus features.
It will instead fell the stories of the forgotten men, those whose lives are now ruled by a seemingly inconsequential decision to take up a lowly paid job as an extra. Judging by the trailer, some clearly enjoy it whilst others detest the fact that their best way to earn money is to play into the hands of the geeks who desire their autographs.
It doesn’t promise to be a laugh-a-minute, but rather a humorous and sometimes painful look at the lives of people who otherwise never get any attention. Jon Spira – who has already proven himself as an excellent filmmaker with the much celebrated 2011 music documentary Anyone Can Play Guitar – has spent months and months getting deep into interviews with his ten subjects and judging by the updates there’s plenty to go on, with editing and post-production beginning in earnest in February 2015. As documentaries go, this is bound to be quirky but I predict it will find a wide audience if the momentum can keep building, especially with its release schedule set to coincide with Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens next year.
Elstree 1976 is set for release in November 2015.