Updated: Thursday, 2nd April 2020 @ 10:55am

Manchester filmmaker uses 'the force' to pull in Hollywood talent for Star Wars and The Office mash-up

Manchester filmmaker uses 'the force' to pull in Hollywood talent for Star Wars and The Office mash-up

| By Kenny Lomas – MM exclusive

A Manchester filmmaker received a boost when his upcoming short-film received a helping hand from a world renowned make-up artist, a Hollywood screenwriter and an iconic British actor.

Carl Whiteley, 33, orginally from Scunthorpe, wrote the script for The Empire, a comedy mash-up of Star Wars and The Office, three years ago.

Carl, the Marketing Co-ordinator at the Printworks, got a cast together and began filming this year after after finally finding the perfect set to make the movie, the Printworks offices.

Having worked with him before, Carl managed to enlist the help of Shaune Harrison, a world famous make-up artist who has worked on the Harry Potter franchise, Star Wars and Game of Thrones.

“He’s a friend of mine and he actually asked me 'can I do the make-up?' He said he would just charge just the materials,” Carl told MM. “He said 'you’re a good guy I love doing films, I’ll do it'.”

Shaune said he was more than happy to help a friend out.

“To me, I just enjoy what I do. I’m not one of those with an ego, I just love making monsters,” Shaune told MM.

THREE'S COMPANY: Shaune Harrison (far left), Bruce Jones (centre), Carl Whiteley (far right)

Shaune, who has recently returned from a six-month stint on The Avengers 2, which is set to be released in the summer of 2015, welcomed working on something with a bit less pressure.

“It was really relaxed. When you work on big films it can be a little daunting, so it was a nice change of atmosphere,” he told MM.

“I’ve just been working on The Avengers 2 for six months, and seeing huge stars like Robert Downey Jr on set walking around in costume can be a bit surreal.”

With Shaune on board, Carl reached out to Bruce Jones, famous for his many years playing Les Battersby in Coronation Street, to play the role of the Emperor.

When Shaune and Bruce jumped on board Carl took to the crowd-funding website, Kickstarter, to raise £350 to help cover the costs.

Up until that point Carl had funded much of the movie himself and called on his network of friends and industry contacts to help make the movie.

All of the scenes, bar the final scenes which are filmed in Shaun’s green room, were filmed in Manchester’s Printworks offices.

Bruce, who had a small role in the British comedy classic, The Full Monty, was also more than happy to get involved, taking just a token fee for his participation.

EMPEROR NICOTINE: Bruce uses the smoking time to let his lines soak in


“I didn’t want to use any one famous playing Luke or Leia because I didn’t have the money but because I thought I’m getting a Hollywood guy doing this make-up I though it was a good to have somebody known,” Carl told MM.

“What we have done with most of the characters, they’ve all got really northern accents. Princess Leia is really northern and broad so I thought it would be quite funny to have the Emperor like that.

“I knew somebody who worked with Bruce and said he was great to work with so I reached out to his management company, and he agreed.”

To date the Kickstarter campaign, which ends this Thursday, has raised £1,505, almost four times the original target.

To Carl’s surprise, one generous investor overseas even investing the full amount of £350 within days of the campaign being live.

Taken aback from the generosity of the investor, Carl decided to do some research only to find out Hollywood had come to his aid once again.

ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE: The Star Wars cast sit down for a casual meeting

“Now this guy, I looked him up and it turned out he is a famous Hollywood screenwriter, so that was pretty, pretty big," Carl told MM.

“His name is Adam F. Goldberg, and he worked and Monster vs Aliens, How to Train Your Dragon and Fanboys, starring Seth Rogan who apparently loved the film so much he played three parts.

“When he invested I was like ‘wow', and then people from all over the world starting investing.

So people from Australia, Finland, lots in America and I have just had an executive at Universal stick a bit of money in as well so it’s going to be seen by a lot of people.”

The final scenes have now been filmed, though things didn't exactly go down without any hiccups. Bruce arrived on the day expecting to get to work with the other cast-mates, but things didn't go to plan.

“I went down with the expectation that I would be working with all the actors, but I got there it was just me and a screen,” Bruce told MM.

“I’ve done green screen work before but always with other actors. It was tough. I had to figure out where all the actors were supposed to be. It was a challenge.

WOOKING GOOD: Carl went all out to make sure all the costumes were authentic

“I kept forgetting my lines for the first twenty minutes or so. I had to go out for a smoke and to pull myself together.

“I was alright once I got into the swing of things, and Carl actually let me ad-lib quite a bit. I think I ended up getting some extra funny bits in there.”

Carl is busy burrowing away in the final edit of The Empire and is hoping to premier the comedy at The Printworks: A Celebration of Star Wars, which is due to take place at the Printworks on July 6.

The film will then be uploaded to YouTube for the world to see. The question is, if it’s a success, is a sequel on the cards?

Carl told MM: “Well I always said that if it over a 100,000 views then I would do a sequel and the way it’s looking it’s got every chance.”

To invest in the Empire, click here.

All images courtesy of Carl Whitely, with thannks