Stormtroopers were out in full force at the grand opening of Harkins Theaters at Tempe Town Lake. Why? Owner Dan Harkins was able to pull a few strings and aquired the vintage film reel of the original Star Wars movie (Episode IV - A New Hope). What stormtrooper wouldn't want to come see this classic in the 400-seat Cine Capri auditorium with the huge 600' wide screen. Harkins invited the local branch of the international stormtrooper costuming organization, the Arizona 501st Dune Sea Garrison, to come in full costume to rub elbows with the guests. Tickets for the grand opening gala were $40 and benefited The Centers for Rehabilitation, a non-profit that provides employment and other programs for children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities.
I had intended on attending this event for some time since the company I work for, Creative Designs in Lighting, had designed the lighting for both the Harkins Theater and for the Tempe Market Place plaza lighting. Then I got a call from Courtney Black telling me that the AZ 501st was going to be there and that she could use a little special effects make-up for the costume that she was planning on wearing. I had worked with Courtney on the Villikon Chronicles film, CopperCon 25, and LepreCon and she is one of my favorite models to work with so there was no question that I wanted to be there for her. The character that she picked is named Asajj Ventress and althogh this character doesn't appear in any of the Star Wars movies, she is a part of the extended Star Wars universe that lives on through the novels and comic books. For the costume she needed to have a bald cap applied to her head and black and white face paint. She has some very thick hair so it was a little tough trying to hide it coming out of the back, but I used Prosaide to glue it down and it looked pretty good when it was done (this was only the second time I had applied a bald cap and although it wasn't ready for filming, it looked O.K. for a meet and greet). I used Reel Creations bodypaints through a Badger airbrush and compressor for the white base and the black tribal stencils. Below are some pictures of her costume.
Once she was painted and ready, I still had a little time to spare so I decided to don my Darth Sidious prosthetic mask and robe and join in on the fun. You can read more about that process on my LepreCon page. I was thrilled to join a troop of about 20 characters assembled in front of the jam packed theater as they introduced the movie. Besides Courtney and I, the line-up included various styles of stormtroopers, Darth Vader himself, and Boba Fett. It was a great event and it was a truly awesome experience to see Star Wars again on such a big screen, especially through the yellow eye contacts of a true Sith Lord!
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