Work on The Dark Crystal began in earnest in early 1978, and there was great interest in seeing how the creatures that were developing would work on film. Jim shot the first test footage near his home in Bedford, NY in the fall of that year and tried another filmed test the following April. By the end of 1979, many of the character groups had been built in some form, and Jim used his hiatus from The Muppet Show to do more tests. The December ones described in his journal focused on a miner character and his assistant who eventually got cut from the film and on the Pod characters, described at that point simply as peasants. In January, Jim met cinematographer Ossie Morris and immediately signed him on to work on both The Dark Crystal and The Great Muppet Caper. From that point forward, Morris helped organize the tests so that they could, according to a meeting memo, not only test the characters, but also test various types of equipment to understand which would be right for the film.
In June 1965, 28-year-old Jim Henson started a written log of his activities in what became known as “The Red Book.” He noted down what had happened up until that point (deemed “Ancient History”) and then recorded anything that he felt was worth recording as single line journal entries until the end of 1988.
Selected curated entries courtesy of The Jim Henson Company Archives.