Star Wars fan special effects filmmaker shoots the galaxy virtually on location in Broken Arrow

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — Like many adults who love Star Wars, local filmmaker David Overholt discovered the George Lucas franchise when he was about nine years old.

“We just moved out here to Oklahoma, me and my family. It was right around Christmas time, and they were playing the original Star Wars trilogy on USA Television. And we hadn’t seen it yet,” said Overholt. “So we watched the first one and we instantly loved it. Me and my brothers loved it. So it became pretty easy to shop for my brothers and me for Christmas after that because it was pretty much always Star Wars figures or Star Wars video games.”

As Overholt grew up, he began to get into animation and special FX.

Flash forward a couple of decades and like many independent filmmakers, Overholt does have a day job.

“A few years back, when The Last Jedi came out, Star Wars Film, Episode 8, I actually started a YouTube channel where it was basically a gimmicky channel,” said Overholt. “It’s called Vader Reviews, and we have Darth Vader reviewing movies and making reactions to the latest movie trailers.”

In 2018, Overholt began writing a fan film called, Star Wars: Fallen Jedi. Originally, it was meant to be a 15-minute lightsaber fight scene with Darth Vader. But, then the pandemic hit.

“It delayed us for like a whole year. And so that gave me time to think about the story more. I was able to kind of expand on it and develop characters,” said Overholt.

The filmmaker continued to shoot and edit the production for the next two years on location in Broken Arrow and virtually, with his brothers and a couple of friends as the crew.

Overholt played the role of Palpatine in the project. He did his own prosthetics.

“I watched hours of Ian McDermott in interviews to kind of get his cadence and like he holds his mouth a funny way, his Palpatine. So I practiced his body language in the mirror and how he talks and I tried to write him as faithfully to the Episode 3 version of Palpatine as possible,” said Overholt.

There is a lightsaber fight scene with Darth Vader where both actors were filmed years apart and in two different states. The footage is now edited where both actors look like they were shot together on a soundstage.

“My friend Jessica is from another state. She has a lightsaber fight with Darth Vader at the beginning of the film. I Skype-directed her. She has her own green screen. So she set up her tripod and I directed her from like states away. I said, ‘OK, up, down, left, right,’ and she acted it out,” said Overholt. “And then later we filmed Vader’s half and I put us together on the computer so it looks like she’s fighting Vader on screen. She and her husband are coming out here to visit family for Christmas, so they’re going to be at the premiere.”

The premiere screening will take place on Dec. 23 at 5 p.m. at the New Orleans Theatre in Broken Arrow, which is the same exact same cinema where Overholt watched The Phantom Menace as a kid. Tickets are $10.

“Yeah, it’s a strange, strange feeling. It’s very it’s rewarding because I’m very proud of the work we did,” said Overholt.

Recently, Overhold posted one of the trailers for his film on Twitter. Someone reached out to him who had worked at George Lucas’ company Industrial Light and Magic and said, “‘That’s an amazing shot.’ And it was a shot I’d done with an imperial shuttle toy that I had balanced on a straw green straw so I could keep it out, and I just rotated it, just very slowly just turning it,” said Overholt. “And then what I did is I took it in the computer and I just kind of grew it and put it on a flight path so it looks like it’s like flying in and past the camera. And I have some stardust behind it in space. And so they have a guy who actually worked on the special edition of Star Wars back in 1997. He worked on the prequels and complimented a shot I did.”

If you miss the screening this Fri., Overholt said he will be posting it on YouTube on Dec. 31, 2022.

According to Overholt, there are millions of Star Wars fan films in the galaxy.

“With fan films, you just make whatever you wanna make. It’s just for the love of Star Wars and just to make people happy,” said Overholt.