Friday, March 18, 2016

Filming Star Wars Episode VIII in Dubrovnik Review

Filming Star Wars Episode VIII in Dubrovnik Review
(In Real Life)

Since it's not everyday that Star Wars are being filmed in a circus-multiverse called Croatia, we've decided to take this ~700km trip to Dubrovnik with a New Hope (...) to see something interesting, compromising, or at east humiliating, during the weekend shootings, with a help of civilized intrusive attitude and gentle bad manners. 

As it turned out, the security at the scenes had prepared almost equally civilized defensive attitude with significantly worse manners to meet our own. And there was a ridiculously large number of them at every step, making sure to educate you on walking and observing rules on-site ("Don't look. Go away.").

The Perspective

This is the satellite image of the Dubrovnik old town; I have marked some of the locations that I will be blabbering about in the rest of the post. 

Props.. props everywhere...

Since that weekend, I am seeing Star Wars props everywhere I look. Is it a real street light or a prop? Is this a real wall or a prop? Is this a real fork that I am chewing, or a prop? Soon I am going to realize that my house is not a real, functional house, but a plastic imitation for special effects' crew. I have made some sandwiches now, and I am ready for the crew to come in and to start making necessary modifications. After they eat my sandwiches, I will be asked nicely to leave the scene. After I nicely refuse, I will be less nicely physically removed from my house, which turned out not to be my house, but a giant Star Wars prop. But that is okay, as far as they like the sandwiches.

The main street was closed every day from 4 PM to 4 AM, and that was the time when most of the magic happened.

Well, that sounded like crap.

"most of the magic happened".

Lords of Kobol.

Anyway, from what we could see, that was the time when the actors were mostly standing around, walking around, the tech and props guys walking around with their backpacks (and standing around), some equipment was being moved, security guys were more agitated than usual, and there was an occasional shout from the director, or some similar species, expressing his emotions about the recorded scene ("Good.").

Okay, to be perfectly honest, we were not really been able to see any specific details, only a glimpse of something happening here and there. The main street was closed and hidden from views. At one moment I heard an explosion and glimpsed at something flying throughout the main street. That seemed cool. But a strong wind on the highway also nearly blew my car away the next day, and that also seemed cool.

Nevertheless, here are some pretty pictures of various props.. which turned our reality into something to be questioned at every moment and every inch (2.54 cm).

Some cool something above the heads

The round thingy; the first thing you see upon entering the old city.
We were shortly debating if these lights are genuine, or a Star Wars prop

Expensive equipment in tents near the city port. 

The round-thingy from the city walls

The "Sea Star" ship: bringing the equipment, maybe the actors, and ready for some scene shootings on the deck.

It seems that this ship, the "Sea Star", played an important role during the shootings. Some of the photos taken with the actors...acting... are available here.

Yes, Game of Thrones was here. 

Croatian crew trying to assemble a fake wall, cursing remarkably in the process

And yes, some people almost died here.
But it was well worth it, learning new cursing combinations and permutations.

Some cool somethings, I am sure of it. 

The main street ("Stradun") view

The expensive thing in the main street (Stradun)

We were also debating about authenticity of this light for a while. Is it a real Dubrovnik street light? Is it a star wars prop?
Or something different entirely?
Imagine our retarded puzzlement.
In our defense, we were REALLY tired from the long drive from home.

However, we were pretty positive that these entrances were not authentic to Dubrovnik old city. They assembled and mounted these rounded plaster projections from the original walls, and they fitted perfectly.
Behind these entrances were mostly stores of various kinds, or even private dwelling entrances. Of course, they were all compensated handsomely for their losses during the movie shootings. 


These are somewhat different in tone compared to the original walls, and are easily spotted,
apart from the obvious design difference.

The amusing thing was that 78.64% of the tourists had no idea what was happening. All the distinguishing entrances and props and fake walls and everything were perfectly flat for them.
During the evening shootings, however, their perception was somewhat elevated (probably because the security guys were telling them not to look, not to photograph, and not to breathe near the main street), and they started asking questions about what was going on.
Security guys were not telling them anything, but we were telling them - it is a Star Wars Episode VIII filming.
Peculiarly,  most of them did not believe us ("yeah, right").

Not a part of the Dubrovnik street central heating system.

Not a biometric security door entrance system.
Or, is it?

Notice the R2-D2 interface there in the upper left corner.

Nearly tossed with the rest of the garbage.

Now, this was interesting. There is more.

See, I told you that there was more.

Or even more!
But is there even even more?

Okay, I will stop now. 

This was the location of the leaked stunt scene.
What leaked stunt scene you wonder?
Read further.

There were some video leakages. One of them was shot near the Dominican Monastery in Dubrovnik, showing a stunt rehearsal where a guy is... well.. flying.

Allegedly, this leakage made some people really angry, and the security was even more tight after this incident.

 The location of the leaked stunt scene

Again, the location of the leaked stunt scene.

Random equipment near the leaked stunt scene.
Well, random for us at least. 

Another video showed some action on the main ("Stradun") street:

This is my finger. I had better shots at this vessel rolling through the Stradun (landspeeder?),
but this is the one with my finger. 

Don't be shy, you fake prop!

For all the ignorant ones, this is the Dubrovnik old city shot from the nearby hill (Srđ, 412m). We were having this remarkable idea that we should take binoculars up there, and wait for the scenes to start shooting down there.
Well, that failed.
We were hungry, tired, the wind was blowing as if there was an end of the world upon us, and which combined with several hundred of some cult members climbing the hill chanting spells, seemed as an amusingly realistic scenario.  

And may I present the main reason that we were hungry on the Dubrovnik hill called Srđ.

Just a Srđ hill plane. Nothing to do with star wars.
Or, has it?

Our theory was that this guy is making the "equipment" look used, by covering it with some oil, or paint, or something. 

The working guy in shorts. 

My friend just told me that I should have stolen this LED circuit.
Sh*t. I Should have.
Now I will take this idea to my grave, knowing that I could have a perfect memory of shooting Episode VIII in my possession. Feel free to tell me in a comment section that this would have been wrong thing to do, just to make me feel better about not stealing this.

...or this.
Aaaaww, cute!

The ones that are working something. 


Something with a ladder. Or a fake ladder?

Okay, I am done with captions. 

Star Wars paratrooper renewing the city walls. It was a painfully slow process to observe.
 I hope the guy will live to tell. 

Closing remarks on Dubrovnik

Cat piss... Cat piss everywhere...

Since there is a vast amount of insignificant small streets connecting the more significant ones in the old city, one has to wander around all the time, lucky-guessing on the exact arrival points. These small streets are ruthlessly overran by cats.

The cats are filling every corner, every rock, every hole everywhere. Like snails in our garden.

Naturally and consequently, everything smells like cat piss. After a while, everyone start to smell like cat piss. And just after that, the human brain gets rewired in a sense that the only thing it can smell from that moment on is a cat piss. There are probably some commercial electrodes for a private shock therapies that one could administer at home to mitigate this issue.

But, this could be a subject for another article.

Yes, the photo in this section is also Dubrovnik.

A Short Retrospect on Driving Practices in Dubrovnik County

They drive like maniacs.
Which is perfectly fine, but there was an intriguing incident which included an attempt of mass murder on the road. Allow me to elaborate.

A black, shiny Mercedes (the-unholy-expensive-class) was behind our car for a few kilometers at a distance of about 3 cm, when he decided to advance in front of us, in an impossibly sharp and evil turn, which included a double white line and, of course, cars approaching from the opposite direction, in an equally dynamic manner.

Was it the Star Wars shooting scene? Were these cars simply fake props?

Anyway, it was about 0.000005 seconds head-on collision miss, an event which would turn our live bodies into a tomato pasta sauce with tuna paste (the last ingredient being from a can, of course).

As it turned out, the car that was coming from the opposite direction was a police car.

And what happened next was the perfectly crafted representation of the Croatian multiverse: The guys in the police car waved and smiled at the Mercedes which nearly turned them into tomato pasta sauce as well (not sure about the tuna), cheerfully greeting the Mercedes driver.

Of course. They are best buddies - the local mafia and the local police.
Ah, well.

Filming Star Wars Episode VIII and Dubrovnik The Good

  1. Filming Star Wars Episode VIII at the moment
  2. Filming Game of Thrones at past moments
  3. Fiddling and photographing with the movie props
  4. Being present at the sets.
  5. The stones, the walls, the sea, the old city, the fort, the views, the scenery.
  6. The not-so-impossibly-many-tourists in this time of year. 

Filming Star Wars Episode VIII and Dubrovnik The Bad

  1. Not being able to be a part of the filming. Apparently they took the applications exclusively from the people that have been a part of Game of Thrones shootings. 
  2. Dubrovnik is well known to be the most expensive city in Croatia. This is somewhat less intense off-the-season though (for the apartment-renting at least). 
  3. Border crossing. An irritating and amusing experience at the same time. We were traveling from Croatia, via Croatia, and to Croatia, and somehow, we still had to cross an international border. Well, everything is possible in the Croatia multiverse.
  4. Closed and protected scene shootings. Well, of course they were, but it is still The Bad. 
  5. The wind
  6. The cat piss

Further reading

For all of the crazy Star Wars fans out there, I certainly recommend visiting Star Wars Dubrovnik blog, which was a central information hub for all the relevant events during the filming process in Dubrovnik. I would like to thank the girls and guys there for their effort and providing useful info from the sites. 

And for all the star wars fans out there:



  1. hey thanks for awesome article and you know it - it would have been wrong thing to steal that led circuit, not to mention price bid it would get on ebay (and total earnings after ordering another 10k from alibaba, heh)

    1. Well, f**k.
      This is officially the only thing I regret not doing in my whole life.