Star Wars Insider #203 preview: Star Wars’ clever California filming locations (exclusive)

Star Wars Insider #203 cover crop. Photo: Titan.
Star Wars Insider #203 cover crop. Photo: Titan. /

We all know the Star Wars universe is located in a galaxy far, far away. But do you know some of the clever filming locations they used in the original movies to make it look like a galaxy far, far away? Well, if you’re not brushed up on that, Star Wars Insider #203 is here to help you!

This latest issue of the magazine, which is on sale June 22, goes behind the scenes once again to reveal some of Star Wars’ best-kept secrets… all in California!

And these aren’t just big soundstages or sets in Los Angeles, we’re talking real-life locations that are actually used outside of the movies. For example, the control room for the Death Star? It’s a control room alright, but not for the infamous superweapon. Just add some Empire costumes and sound effects, and you take an ordinary workstation and turn it into the world of Star Wars!

To find out what clever California filming locations were used in the original series, you can check out the excerpt from Star Wars Insider #203 below.

Star Wars Insider #203
Star Wars Insider #203 cover. Photo: Titan. /

Star Wars Insider #203 preview

From: “A Galaxy at Your Doorstep” feature

Star Wars Insider takes a trip across California to find a galaxy far, far away that’s not so very far away at all.

The Death Star

That’s no moon, it’s an old television station! While the saga’s most notable connections to the Greater Los Angeles area are linked to movie studios and the special effects business, there are a couple of real-world locations in the Southland from Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) that might surprise you.


A New Hope: Death Star control room.

Remember the brief shot in A New Hope featuring some helmeted Death Star operators at a console bristling with knobs, switches, and meters? That wasn’t a set at Elstree Studios in the U.K. but a genuine control room at the Scattergood Generation Station, a natural gas-powered steam plant in El Segundo. As you might expect from a working power plant – and an Imperial battle station – it’s not open to the public.

A New Hope: Death Star control room. Photo supplied by Titan Publishing.
A New Hope: Death Star control room. Photo supplied by Titan Publishing. /


A New Hope: Closeup of a hand pulling switch to fire the Death Star

When A New Hope was in production in 1976, Los Angeles’ PBS station, KCET, maintained studios at this location. In fact, it was KCET technical director Cal Slater who was the man responsible for destroying Alderaan – by moving the fader bar on a Green Valley Switcher!


A New Hope: Landspeeder in motion.

Some shots of Luke’s landspeeder crossing the desert wastes were filmed in Death Valley but they mostly were scrapped for newer, better shots. The dry Koehn Lake bed, outside Randsburg, halfway between Los Angeles and Death Valley, served as the location for these pick-up shots. Angled mirrors attached to the underside of the vehicle hid the prop’s wheels and helped create the illusion that the speeder was floating as it sped across the arid landscape.

Discover more local locations in Star Wars Insider #203, plus, legendary producer Robert Watts looks back on his days scouting the world for galactic locations; an all-new Star Wars: The High Republic story by author Justina Ireland; how Grogu and Boba Fett helped The Mandalorian conquer popular culture, and much, much more!

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