Monday, May 28, 2007

Is it really over?

The last day of Celebration III felt about the way this one does: sad, very sad.

It was a good last day, though. The creators of "The Force Among Us" gave the last panel discussion. This is a brother-sister team, born in 1975 and 1977, who work day jobs but took the time to create their first movie, a documentary looking at fans and their motivation. Unlike "Trekkies," which the creators referenced, "Force Among Us" is by fans and is all about breaking stereotypes. A sociologist who will be featured in the film, due by the end of June, interviewed 3,500 "Star Wars" fans and found the image of social losers who can't get dates is nonsense. From the looks of the trailer, it should be a good film. It's being marketed through the movie Web site,, and has been priced at $14.95 per copy. I just finished a company DVD, and I saw similiarities with the price -- the same as our DVD -- and hearing the creators talk about "17 working days" to produce the copies. In other words, these really are just two highly motivated people who had a few connections -- they were able to work with pros for much of the production -- and decided to do something.
These two must know about the 1976 "Star Wars" guerilla marketing campaign. They were out on Thursday passing out T-shirts. They put up their own posters, too. And even though they would have been at CIV on their own, they said they attend just about any event they're invited to, large or small. So far that includes Celebration Europe and an event in Mexico. It's all about persistence, connections and hard work. Plus a bit of money to get started. They financed it themselves and with an investment from a company. One of the creators works "70 hours a week" at her job, which invovles presentations in corporate boardrooms, though she didn't elaborate. The other is in the music industry. And from the looks of their clips, they've got talent in film, too.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

CIV Continues

Lots happening at CIV. The giant birthday card is nearly full. And tonight, "Chad Vader" won the "George Lucas Selects" award at the film fest. Personally, the highlight of the day was seeing Anthony Daniels in the droid builders' room. I was talking to a builder, who had invited me behind the rope for a closer look at some parts and droids, when I noticed Daniels' familiar voice near the ILM R2-D2 a few feet away. The builder and I immediately went for our cameras. These shots are what I managed to take as Daniels posed next to R2 and talked with people in the room.

Here are some shots of troopers tall and short:

The trials of fandom:

Friday, May 25, 2007

Cake and a card

The opening ceremony was the highlight of Friday's Celebration IV events. Highlight in that it was the headliner, had the longest line and all in all was a darned good show. Today -- May 25 -- is the 30th anniversary of the release of "Star Wars," right down to the day. To celebrate, all of us in the opening ceremony tonight -- and there were hundreds of us -- were given a square of white cake. But only after we sang "Happy Birthday." And yes, I sang. An image of the famous, to "Star Wars" fans, one-year birthday poster from 1978 filled the projection screen. The cake was good.

The Postal Service gave us first-day issue envelopes with canceled "Star Wars" 41-cent stamps. May 25, 2007.

I also signed the giant 30th anniversary card. Never mind what I wrote.

Panel discussions began today. My favorite was the first: "The Archaeology of Star Wars," with Dr. David West Reynolds. Reynolds is a real, honest-to-goodness archaeologist who set out in 1995 to find the lost filming sites in Tunisia for the original movie. And damned if he didn't find them. He even found the plastic krayt dragon bones, with some help from a local boy and his father. Reynolds used slides to show the clues he followed in production photographs and "Star Wars" trading cards, clues nonarchaeolgist not might think to see. He recognized a site near the Tusken Raider attach, for example, from a grouping of three rocks amid a vast background of rock and sand. Three rocks, and he had it!

Reynolds kept hammering home his excitement: "360 degrees," he would say. That was what gave him a giddy feeling. Trading cards and movie photographs are two-dimensional. But once he had identified the shooting locations, he could walk around or turn. Turning is something you can't do with a photo. The ability to turn, to look around and to walk around what you can feel are real places in the "Star Wars" fantasy word, to imagine yourself there: This is most of the excitement I've ever gotten from "Star Wars Galaxies" and other first-person "Star Wars" games.

On to Saturday!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Celebration IV, Episode II

Fan club day at Celebration IV today.

"Star Wars" links

Today's events haven't begun. In the meantime, here are more pictures from the movie marathon and a few "Star Wars"-related links.
* Today's story about "Star Wars" and CIV on
* The "Star Wars Technical Commentaries" are fun examinations of the "Star Wars" universe from a rational, logical and scientific point of view. The material presented in the movies, books, games and so forth are presumed to be accurate. The job of the technical commentaries is to take the facts and follow them to logical, interesting conclusions. Early articles, placed well before "Revenge of the Sith" appeared in theaters, made educated guesses about the nature of Darth Vader's injuries, given his appearance toward the end of "Return of the Jedi," his artificial breathing throughout the movies and from other clues in the literature. Another set examined the mass of the Death Star destroyed in "Return of the Jedi," the size of chunks seen flying toward the Endor moon, the Death Star's orbit, etc., and concluded an Endor Holocaust must have wiped out the Ewoks: "For those unfortunate beings not painlessly obliterated by the impact concussions, the initial night of celebration would linger on and on with days of darkness." Furthermore, the Rebel Alliance probably covered up the tragedy. Other commentaries question the nature of hyperspace, an Imperial communications ship glimpsed from Palpatine's window, insignia, survivors of the Death Star destroyed at the Battle of Yavin, and more.
* The Wookieepedia, a fun wiki like the Wikipedia and a companion to the Technical Commentaries, focusing more on fact than technical analysis.
* The official "Star Wars" site.
* The official Celebration IV site.
* Hyperspace, the fan club.

Celebration IV movie marathon

Episode I
I Saw It!

After six movies, three hot dogs, two RCs, one Coke, one Pepsi and one bag of popcorn, I am the owner of a button that summarizes in one sentence what Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles was all about for die-hard “Star Wars” fans.

“I saw it!”

And Celebration IV hasn’t even officially opened yet.

It was the first screening of all six “Star Wars” movies in order on the big screen. With digital projection when available. It was an experience. Accomplishment? Well, physically and mentally all we did was get ourselves to the right spot, with the right free ticket, and stay awake during the showings.

Experience? That’s why we came. “Star Wars” at a Celebration is participatory. “Star Wars” fans cheer and clap at appropriate and other times. Fans clapped for many scenes and many moments, even for lines of dialogue. At character intros. When Luke stared the emperor down and said, “I’ll never turn to the dark side.” But also when Padme announced her pregnancy to Anakin. Big cheers, though it was impossible to tell if it was for her, them or him. Her line an episode earlier about Anakin always being that little boy from Tatooine did get a reaction from the crowd. As did the Luke-Leia kiss in “Empire.” But incest and innuendo are part and parcel of the “Star Wars” experience, if you care to go looking for it. For some dubious insight into this topic, watch “George Lucas in Love.”

The movie marathon was a once-in-a-lifetime experience both in probable fact and in survivability. The kids who saw “Star Wars” appear on the big screen in 1977 without “A New Hope” patched onto the titles are getting older. And at the next major anniversary, we might not be as ready to stay up past our bedtimes as we have been.

The shuttle bus driver on the return trip asked a front row passenger, “So, you watch all six movies?”

Yes, indeed.

“That’s a lot of movies in one day,” the driver said, to general laughter. He said something about “diehard” fans, but we were soon at the first hotel stop on his route. The driver got a thank-you from nearly every passenger as they left the bus and headed off.

I got the button, I got bragging rights, and as my mother might say, I got a memory.

I saw it.

Now on to CIV!

But first, on to bed.