Film: Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Star Wars Episode I producer Rick McCallum leased the entirety of Leavesden for two and a half years. This would enable sufficient time for set bet building, initial filming and then any additional shots that were later deemed necessary.
Below: Ewan McGregor picks his favourite lightsabre from the props workshop
Production Designer Gavin Bocquet arrived at Leavesden in August 1996 with an art department to start building the 60 plus sets that were required before the cameras could start rolling. Because the former aircraft hangers were so large crew members took to using bicycles to travel between the various sets.
Many of the sets were built to replicate the interiors of buildings shot on location elsewhere in the world such as the Queen’s Royal Palace to match up with location shooting in Caserta, Italy, and the interiors of Watto’s junk shop on Tatooine and the Galactic Senate chamber.
Where necessary blue screens were used and shots from the real locations were added to the scenes filmed at Leavesden. Computer generated graphics designed in California were later added to the live action footage.
Below: Practising a lightsabre sequence
Nearby Whippendell Woods served as the location for the planet of Naboo where the Jedi met GunGan Jar Jar Binks.