My Roommate the Jedi
The evil Empire from Star Wars invades Earth in search of an ancient weapon hidden by a Jedi Master. When an average guy discovers the weapon hidden in his LA apartment, it falls onto him and his roommate, the Jedi’s apprentice, to keep it out of the Empire’s hands.
Credits / Collaborators / Cast
Written and Directed by Byrne Owens
Produced by Byrne Owens & Lu Louis
Cinematography Directed by Matthew Hibbs
Edited by Matthew Hibbs & Byrne Owens
Visual Effects by Byrne Owens & Jeff Osborne & David Osborne
Post Production Supervised by Mike Manning
Lu Louis as Lu
Chloe Carabasi as Kya Cloudsurfer
Byrne Owens as Darth Haityr
Tyler Seiple as Admiral Banks
Richard McDonald as Master Kak Mooner
and Byrne as the voice of Ur-Dic
Behind the scenes
This film is part of an ongoing series called “My Roommate the..?”, which is about a kind-hearted everyman’s man who gets pulled into absurd situations by a new roommate every episode. Each story exists as its own standalone tribute to a character, subculture or trend, which gives the show room to explore and bend genres. This particular film is the largest, most epic production the show has put out to date, and it took the team roughly 6 years to complete.
Casting for the film was challenging as pivotal scenes hinged on having white-armored Stormtroopers for multiple shoot days. While the production wasn’t officially sanctioned by the Disney group, members of the official 501st Legion volunteered their time. There was also a considerable amount of choreography and blocking that went into the lightsaber duels, with cast members rehearsing the frequently before the shoot dates. The lightsaber hilts used in the film were custom made by the film’s writer/director Byrne Owens, as well as the Stormtrooper armor donned by the show’s star and co-creator Lu Louis. The Jedi tunics, capes, and other costumes were also custom made by the production’s costume designer Rebecca Cristancho.
In total there were 21 shoot days, as scheduling depended heavily on when cast and crew were free. Most, if not all who were involved had regular jobs that took precedence over the shoot. Over 50% of filming took place in a driveway courtyard of an apartment complex that required insurance, as well as permission from neighbors since the lighting and equipment took up multiple parking spots. Many of the outdoor sequences utilized large sail scrims hung above the actors to soften lighting, with Kino Flow 4 banks providing additional light on the actors if needed. The spaceship interior sequences were shot with constructed practical set pieces and then visual effects were later added to enhance texture and support holographic interfaces. The film was shot by cinematographer Matthew Hibbs using a Canon C100 camera.
While many scenes utilized blue screen for adding effects, the majority of the footage required rotoscoping. In the beginning stages of the post process, a professional VFX artist, Jeff Osborne, was brought on board to tackle exterior space sequences. Similar to the production process, his time was volunteered in between high paying jobs. Eventually he was unable to assist due to another commitment and Byrne could not afford a VFX artist of his caliber to continue the work. So Byrne taught himself After Effects and picked up where Jeff left off, editing at night and in the mornings between his 9-5 job. The lightsabers, lasers, and Star Wars ships were generated with plugins from VideoCopilot. The protagonist’s ship was a licensed purchased from CGTraders.com and then added to using various model shapes and assets from the Videocopilot library.
The “My Roommate the..?” series has always been about promoting independent artists through creative, low budget approaches to filmmaking. While the show lives on Youtube, it was always the creators’ goal to tell compelling, high quality stories. With this film, the Roommate team wanted to go big, and deliver an experience unlike any other free content videos around. Videos like “My Roommate the Jedi” are a testament to how hard work and patience pays off, and will hopefully inspire other independent filmmakers who are passionate about the craft to press forward in the face of adversity or obstacles.