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Back in 1995, I rediscovered the lost Star Wars desert filming locations in Tunisia. Here at last is a video telling the whole story.
Back in 1995, I rediscovered the lost Star Wars desert filming locations in Tunisia. Here at last is a video telling the whole story.
282 backers pledged $20,770 to help bring this project to life.

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Don't Make Us Cut Stuff Like This!

The "Bantha Boulders" location
The "Bantha Boulders" location

The Bantha Boulders is just one of the great "minor locations" of Star Wars Canyon that will only fit in this show if we are able to produce all of the Bonus Features. Above you see David West Reynolds and Francis Lalumiere posed where Luke Skywalker and C-3PO looked out for Sandpeople. Great fun, right? And yet it's not part of our prime material, not part of the story in the hour-long show. 

Original Ben Kenobi's home location
Original Ben Kenobi's home location

Ben Kenobi's home is another example of "Bonus Feature" material. Yes, it's cool! But it just does not fit in the hour-long show. There is already too much other good stuff there, and a strong storyline that would be ruined if I went into infinite detail about everything. The place for material like this is in separate short features. I can't include those on this DVD without more help from you.

 Help Us Share The Entire Expedition!

Reaching our baseline goal has guaranteed that we will make this documentary—but there will be a lot of great footage left on the cutting room floor. There are great short segments that reveal the full extent of my explorations. We were originally thinking about releasing these segments as "Journey to Tataouine Part 2," but with added support right now we can add them as Bonus Features to Part I, and pack everything into this one DVD. And there are so many cool graphics and maps that I would love to be able to add! But I can't afford it without additional help. I want to be able to produce all six Bonus Features, showing the original Star Wars filming sites as they were when no other fan had ever seen them, and add the studio magic—motion graphics and on-screen annotations—that will make it all more fun for everyone. These are our last few days. Help us take you back to Tatooine in style!

My name is Dr. David West Reynolds. I am an archaeologist and a New York Times #1 best-selling Star Wars author. If you're a Star Wars fan, you may have seen some of my Star Wars Visual Dictionaries, Cross-sections books, or my many articles in Star Wars Insider.

Some of the official Star Wars books I have written
Some of the official Star Wars books I have written

When I was finishing up my Ph.D in 1995, I learned that the original Star Wars filming locations used for Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine had become lost. Not even Lucasfilm knew where they were anymore! I decided to head out to Tunisia and find them. It would be a test of my skills as an archaeologist… and an opportunity to set foot on another world.

 The expedition was successful beyond my wildest dreams.

Site of moisture farm on salt flat
Site of moisture farm on salt flat

 

Site of underground dining room in Matmata
Site of underground dining room in Matmata

I found not only all of the original Star Wars filming locations, but pieces of the original sets still in place. I found set décor and props that had been lying out in the sun, abandoned for two decades!

Articles about my Journey to Tataouine
Articles about my Journey to Tataouine

I wrote a famous article about my adventure for Lucasfilm’s official magazine, the Star Wars Insider, and coverage has appeared in several other publications, including Harper's magazine. But the full story has never been told. Now I would like to share it all with you in a documentary called Journey to Tataouine.

The video will run about an hour in length. It wastes no time and puts us on the ground in Tunisia immediately, following along with the expedition. In order to give you an experience as close as possible to the original discovery, I am building this project out of the S-VHS footage shot back in 1995, as the expedition was happening. 

A few photos from this project have been published by Lucasfilm, and a handful of stills appear in an interview segment with Star Wars producer Rick McCallum on the Saga Blu-Ray box set released in 2011, but none of my video footage has ever been shared before. This footage constitutes a time capsule of the sites as they were when I found them—when no one else in the world knew where they were, and they lay completely untouched.

Map Set

To help you follow the narrative of the half dozen separate "treasure hunts" that were scattered across Tunisia from the coast to the dunes of the Sahara, I have created special maps and graphics.

Prototype maps created for Lucasfilm
Prototype maps created for Lucasfilm

The prototypes of these maps were created specially for producer Rick McCallum when I was working for him as a location scout, and they were never published. For the Journey to Tataouine video project I am creating enhanced new versions to help the viewer in re-tracing the original discoveries. 

Join Me on the Journey

As an official Lucasfilm author I wrote seven Star Wars reference guide books while I worked at Skywalker Ranch. For those projects I had the run of the Lucasfilm Archives, and I had some pretty wild adventures along the way, in and out of various original Star Wars costumes. But in Journey to Tataouine, I can finally share with you the most exciting Star Wars experiences that I ever had.

With Journey to Tataouine I want to be your guide to a strange middle ground between reality and fantasy… a place that is at the same time the foreign country of Tunisia and a faraway planet. Between my half a dozen trips there, my location scouting for Lucasfilm, and my work at Skywalker Ranch, I can assure you that nobody knows this desert planet the way I do.

Archaeologist and robot friend in Dune Sea
Archaeologist and robot friend in Dune Sea

Whether you want to travel in the safe comfort of your armchair, or head off to North Africa to follow in my footsteps, Journey to Tataouine is your passport to an adventure unlike any other. And nothing quite like it will ever happen again.  

For the BBC and for private clients I have served as an on-location guide to the Star Wars landscapes of Tunisia. This video will put that same experience in your hands. 

Thanks for looking over this project. I hope you will choose to join me, and help to launch this documentary version of the Journey to Tataouine.

Stretch Goals

Our baseline goal of $10,000 covers only post-production for a good solid basic show about an hour long. 

However, as the rough cut has made clear, one hour does not allow me to go into all the detail that real Star Wars fans would enjoy about each of these locations. There is a lot of additional interesting footage and information that I would love to be able to share. I want to put together half a dozen roughly 5 minute in-depth "bonus features" to add to the DVD. Here I can show you all the other examples of "spaceport architecture" that I found on Djerba; here I can explain the layout of the Lars Homestead out on the salt flat; here I can tell you why the Sandcrawler matte shot in Star Wars does not use the full-size tread section built in Tunisia especially for this one shot! In the bonus features I can provide a full tour of Luke Skywalker's underground home, and take you into Luke's bedroom. I have served as a guide in Tunisia many times, so I know there are a lot more stories to share than will fit in our basic hour. The Bonus Features are where I can put all this information. 

Furthermore I am keeping production expenses to a bare minimum. I have already paid for most of this project myself, but I need your help to bring in post-production experts for the studio polish that will present this show at its best potential. Audio expertise to balance levels throughout the show, color timing for consistency between all the shots and stills, music better than inexpensive license-free tracks... these things are what we can do with added help. It won't take much, but we simply can't do it without additional funding. Take us beyond $25,000 and you'll see all that I want to share with you.

Risks and challenges

I am a best-selling author, with over two million hardcover copies of my books sold worldwide in some 14 languages... so I know how to tell a good story. I have given presentations about my Journey to Tataouine at San Diego Comic Con (standing room only) and at museums, libraries, and official Lucasfilm events across the country, so I know that people love this "treasure hunt" tale. The reactions of those audiences have helped me to craft the story into its best and most entertaining form. At Skywalker Ranch I helped cut movie trailers and MTV music videos, so I also know how to produce a video project. Finally, this documentary is about my own adventures rather than those of the Star Wars characters, and uses no Star Wars footage, so it needs no license or approval from Lucasfilm or Disney. (Tataouine is actually a real town in Tunisia, so it can be used in the title without infringement.) The rough cut of the show is already assembled, and the funding is needed only for the final post-production work. There is minimal risk or challenge in this project... only the post-production funding is missing, and you are the one who can take care of that! Fund this project and you can confidently expect an entertaining video about a unique story.

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Tataouine Project wallpaper (download)

    Help us out with a token $5 pledge and you can download a special image that puts the Journey to Tataouine on your computer. Suitable resolution for computer wallpaper use, this image features highlights from throughout the expedition over a map of Tunisia.

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    • Tatooine Expedition Wallpaper Image
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    Journey to Tataouine mini-Poster

    11" X 17" movie-style mini-poster promoting the Journey to Tataouine project as if it were a theatrical release

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    Journey to Tataouine Map Set

    Five 8 1/2" X 11"maps covering the Star Wars filming locations in Tunisia.

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    Journey to Tataouine DVD

    DVD copy of the hour-long video Journey to Tataouine

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    DVD and Map Set

    DVD copy of Journey to Tataouine documentary pus full set of five 8 1/2" X 11" maps of Star Wars filming sites in Tunisia

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    Personalized Visual Dictionary

    Here's a special new Reward opportunity! For a contribution of $50 or more, I will not only sign but PERSONALIZE a copy of my Star Wars Classic Trilogy Visual Dictionary, AND add an annotation pointing out where the book pictures the sand creature bone props that I recovered in Tunisia. This ties the documentary directly to the book in a unique way.

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    Early Bird Bundle

    SIGNED DVD copy of Journey to Tataouine documentary plus Map Set, together with set of five custom trading cards celebrating the expedition, PLUS two unique Early Bird cards

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    Rewards Set: DVD, Maps, Cards, & Poster

    Here is the full basic Rewards Package: Signed DVD copy of Journey to Tataouine video, set of 5 Maps, 11 X 17" mini-poster print, and set of five custom trading cards celebrating the expedition.

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    Rewards Package plus Visual Dictionary

    Contribute $100 and I will add a signed copy of my best-selling DK Star Wars Classic Trilogy Visual Dictionary to the Rewards Package that includes signed DVD copy of Journey to Tataouine video, set of 5 Maps, 11 X 17" mini-poster print, and set of five custom trading cards.

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    Rewards Package plus "Tataouine Sand"

    For just a handful of supporters I can offer a small vial of the "Dune Sea" sand that I recovered from the filming location in 1995 (with certificate of authenticity) in addition to the full basic Rewards Package featuring signed DVD copy of Journey to Tataouine video, set of 5 Maps, signed 11 X 17" mini-poster print, and set of five custom trading cards celebrating the expedition.

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    Grand Package with Set of 5 Books

    For up to ten generous supporters at $250 I will put together a grand package with a full set of my five best-selling DK Star Wars books, all beautifully signed—and with a special remarque in the Classic Trilogy Visual Dictionary noting the photo of the sand creature bones that I found in Tunisia (and possibly another fun little notation or two). These five books are on top of the full Rewards Package of signed DVD copy of Journey to Tataouine video, set of 5 Maps, signed 11 X 17" mini-poster print, and set of five custom trading cards.

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    Executive Producer Set

    Support the project with a substantial contribution of $2500 or more and you will receive an Executive Producer credit on the documentary. An Executive Producer also receives the entire Grand Package of rewards offered at the $250 level, as well as a vial of 1995 filming location sand in a special presentation shadowbox.

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Funding period

- (30 days)