J.J. Abrams sent a message from Abu Dhabi to update fans on the filming of "Star Wars Episode VII". He introduced an initiative called "Star Wars: Force for Change" to raise funds and awareness for UNICEF's Innovation Labs and its programs benefiting children in need.
"Like a lot of you, I've been a 'Star Wars' fan since I was a kid, so it's truly a surreal thing to be working on this movie. I can't believe it," Abrams said in the video. And then he extended an invitation to fans, saying, "We would like to invite you to be part of the fun here. We want to put you in the movie."
For every $10 donated to the campaign, fans are automatically entered into a contest to appear in the film. Five winners will be flown to London and shoot his or her scene at Pinewoods Studios. Beside on-screen appearance, the lucky fans will go behind the scenes of the movie's set, meet the cast and get a transformation into a character of the film by the makeup and costume teams.
Contest has begun and will end on July 18 midnight. Those who did not win but contribute more will be given assorted gifts at various levels such as R2-D2 T-shirt, a peek at some "Episode VII" concept art and signed copy of the script.
UNICEF's Innovation Labs are working on technological fixes for children in remote or troubled regions such as China, the Philippines, Uganda, Burundi and Zambia. Disney, which owns Lucasfilm, has committed $1 million to the cause.
"Star Wars Episode VII" is scheduled to hit theaters across the nation on December 18, 2015. According to THR, the filming in Abu Dhabi is aimed to re-create the desert planet Tatooine, which was the home of Anakin and Luke Skywalker as well as the headquarters of Jabba the Hutt.