Monday, May 30, 2005

Keep Those High Profile Projects Coming!

I'm entering my fourth week of pretty steady work with Precision Post. Things have been going really well and they seem to be happy with me and my work.

Last week I worked on several projects which included a behind the scenes peak at Martin Laurence's new movie, "Rebound", plus I briefly put in some time on a promotional spot for "The Island" starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlet Johansson. By week's end they set me up with a more long-term project: cutting one of five making-of featurettes (or 'pods' as they're called in post) for the forthcoming DVD release of "The Ring Two".

After meeting with the producer from DreamWorks I was allowed to choose which one I wanted to cut. My choice was the special effects pod, which turned out to be the one they hoped I'd take. Since Friday I've been going through interview and behind the scenes footage, which I'll sift down to a ten minute piece. This is pretty exciting to be working on, plus my name will most likely be in the credit role at the end of the featurette. Sweet! I was informed early last week that they'd need for awhile on several different projects.

Prior to that I was called in for a two day job last Monday and Tuesday at Autonomy. Worked on a promo for "The Honeymooners" movie. Hey remember a month ago I was bitching about how this was going to be the worst movie of the year? Well things tend to turn around and bite you in the ass sometimes don't they? Actually the project went very well plus I worked with Angela, the producer who always calls upon me when they need extra help. As far as I know this year's Hollywood Bowl project is loosely scheduled to start in early July, which will then take me through the end of September. Jeez that makes this year sound like it's just whizzing by! Slow down, eh!

Nothing new from KO Creative which is not a problem at the moment because Precision has me very nicely booked through this week and I think the next as well. I'll check in with them shortly just the same. I did receive another call from The Disney Channel on Friday asking what my availability was for tomorrow. I told her I was booked of course but that I would be in touch my week's end to confirm when I may be open next. Despite working pretty regular recently I still want to get updated copies of my reel and resume out to some of the post houses I still yearn to work with, including Trailer Park.

Tomorrow night (Tuesday) is "Aliens" at The Arclight with the Q&A. Bonus! Then Wednesday night is the original "Star Wars". Bonus squared! I'm definitely going to bring my camera to "Aliens" in hopes of grabbing some pics with Stan Winston. When they screened "X2" with Bryan Singer last fall I thought they weren't allowing them. However folks took pictures freely anyway.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Imperial March To Mann's Chinese Theatre & "Revenge Of The Sith" Review

Through various channels I learned the march of the 501st led by Darth Vader on Wednesday, May 18th would start at The Arclight around 4pm arriving at Mann's Chinese Theatre by 5, meeting up with those waiting in line to return to The Arclight around 6:30 or 7. I decided to park my car at The Arclight so when we returned I could just stay put and enjoy the festivities. I made my way around to the front of The Cinerama Dome where the troops were forming up to depart. I got there just in time because 3 minutes later the march began. To your right is a link to photos from the day...again, same drill: please ask before posting this link on your's or anyone else's site.

There were around 25 stormtroopers, 2 Fett's (Boba and Jango), plus 30 of us fans trailing behind Lord Vader. We were also accompanied by 2 Princess Leia's; one in "Wars" white gown and the really good Slave Girl from C3. News choppers hovered high overhead. Making our way from block to block we began accumulating more fans, the curious, and a number of TV news and still photographers. People honked their horns as they drove by, yelling "Vader!!" out the windows. All we needed was "The Imperial March" playing on someone's boom box.

More and more people began to join us as we traveled 7 blocks, finally arriving at Mann's Chinese Theatre to thunderous applause by fans that had been lining up since April and hundreds of others waiting in anticipation of the column's arrival. People began singing the "Star Wars" theme as His Lordship approached. Suddenly it felt like 1977 with hundreds of fans converging near the place where Vader, C3PO, and R2D2 put their feet in cement 28 years earlier. This was why I SO wanted to be here! By this time the whole event had become The Star Wars Celebration 3.5! Later in the evening I would show up on CNN from a chopper shot. All Darth needed to do was go over to the head of The Line and say, "we would be honored if you would join us".

By the time the 'about face' came there were a number of LAPD officers in cars and on bikes wrangling the crowd, which was now growing to between 5 and 600! When we returned to The Arclight a number of news trucks lined the street outside the entrance along with another crowd waiting for Vader and company's arrival. Many a photo op was had as the fans converged on the Arclight courtyard for revelry and light saber demonstrations provided by Master Replicas throughout the evening.

Of course I didn't have a ticket for the midnight show because of the surprise sale date right before C3. I just wanted to be here at Star Wars: Ground Zero to share the excitement of opening night for the last film...a few short blocks from the most famous place where it all began.

So on to the review...

Our tickets were for Thursday night at the 11:15pm show in The Dome. A few days before they announced that The Dome would in fact be presenting the film digitally. I'd been torn when buying tickets as to whether I wanted to see it in digital or at The Dome first. Problem solved! The crowd was primed as the curtain parted to thunderous applause.


I'd read some of the reviews cautiously Wednesday night hearing critics like Roger Ebert rank "Sith" up there with "The Empire Strikes Back". I do feel it's the best of the prequel trilogy. Where it ranks against the first three films I have yet to determine. The script has a few quips that tickle the styling of the original trilogy and there is more of an adventure feel than in Episode I and II. Character wise Ian McDirmmid easily has the best role in this film. His recanting of a Sith Lord legend being one of the most memorable scenes. This is also Ewan McGregor's best turn as Obi Wan, channeling Alec Guinness to a tee right down to the way he gently tugs on his beard deep in thought. Samuel L. Jackson's confrontation of The Chancellor...the defeat of three other Jedi by Palapatine was a bit too easy, but I understood the point was to get to the squaring off with Mace, who of course is just The Man! Mace's best scene still is in "Clones" where he slowly walks down a stone hallway to confront Dooku and begin the rescue sequence on damn right! Natalie Portman; basically after being 'Action Padme' in the last movie must now sit and just be pregnant while Anakin tries to avert the reality of his nightmares. No wonder you didn't see much of her in the trailers. I've always loved Natalie and thought she gave her character a strong send off.

Hayden Christensen...still not the greatest performance in the world but improved over "Clones". The scene on the balcony where he watches Padme brush her hair is the worst case of Lucas' not being able to write an affective love exchange. The most thought provoking scene between these two is when they gaze across the city toward one another, poised toward forever change. It's a great angst filled moment seldom portrayed in a Star Wars film but very welcome none the less. Christensen's performance however does heat up as Anakin begins his turn toward the dark side and the fight with Obi Wan. Anger has always been his strong side* (*see the post Tuskin Raider massacre scene, probably the best emotional moment in "Clones"). Quite frankly I blame the director for lapses in his acting.

Overall I thought this was one of John Williams' best "Star Wars" scores, "Battle Of The Heroes" being the breakout track. My only complaint was the recycling of exact music from "Clones" and "Menace" in several scenes. Did someone run out of money to give John for more work? In the original trilogy you had hints of themes from other films, including a brief swing into the Death Star attack theme from "Wars" used during the rebel assault on the new Death Star in "Jedi". A nice connecting theme but still not the exact same piece of music. This of course is not a reflection on Williams because overall I thought he did a magnificent job on "Sith".

It was great to finally see Kashyyyk, the home of the Wookies, and I liked Chewbacca helping to protect Yoda. But his level of the end that could have been anyone. Now if Chewy played an important role with Obi Wan, so that when they meet at the Cantina Bar in the original film there would be a more meaningful connection, that would have been more satisfying. I definitely liked Jimmy Smits and thought his character was incorporated nicely into the story. Yesterday I picked up the Mon Mothma action figure in the store and read the blurb about her "Sith" younger self on the back. Essentially she was to have started forming the early stages of the rebellion in this film. Plus I read recently that Lucas jettisoned a script subplot for Padme involving her secretly helping to form the rebel alliance. That would have been a nice touch. Oh and BTW, after some of the advance buzz about Governor Tarkin being introduced in "Sith", he only has a small cameo at the end never uttering a word. D'OH! Glimpsing the first Death Star being constructed out the window...priceless.

This trilogy never seemed to settle on one bad guy for the whole story, except The Chancellor/Darth Sidious. First, Darth Maul, who I and many others thought was going to be the new big bad guy throughout these 3 episodes...killed at the end of "Menace". Then Count Dooku, commander of the Separatist army, dispatched a little too quickly in the opening of "Sith". Here was another moment that needed to have more anticipatory prelude to it. Perhaps Lucas felt he had to wrap up the whole Dooku thing quickly to get on with the story which is how it ultimately came across. Now comes General Grievous; definitely a great villain both in character and CG creation. I wish he had more of a presence in the previous films. Some would argue that his sole appearance in "Sith" comes off like the Batman villian of the week.

Editing wise two scenes bothered me a little. The battle on Kashyyyk just barely gets started and suddenly we cut to Anakin having a discussion with The Chancellor, then back to Kashyyyk after the fight has been won. They should have stayed on Kashyyyk until the conflict had wrapped a bit more. Then there was Obi Wan chasing after Grevious. Once again an action sequence cut in two with no sensible parallel scene to go to. This should have been left whole.

Once again I really appreciated the style of the costumes, especially Padme's and Bail Organa's garb, which harkened back to the "Buck Rogers" serials of the 30's. The digital effects were all very impressive although the clone troopers a touch rough in spots especially where several Tamera Morrison's were present with their helmets off. Ship designs continue to lean towards what we ultimate saw in the original "Star Wars" including a precursor to the X-Wing of the first trilogy. My favorite new ship in "Sith" would have to be the Jedi star fighters which of course resemble the later TIE fighters. The clone pilot's line, "lock X foils in attack formation", and that all too familiar sound effect of the tie fighter buzzing by before Vader joins The Emperor on the star destroyer bridge were like comfort food to the ears of the faithful.

I was very satisfied to see the graphic intensity at the end true to the way we all knew it had to be. Lucas certainly went the distance in portraying Anakin/Vader's defeat and grisly deformation near the lava river as well as his reconstruction on the operating table. The juxtaposition between his fight with Obi Wan and Yoda's duel with Darth Sidious was nicely done, as was Padme giving birth to the twins intercut with Vader's helmet finally enclosing what is left of Anakin's head. That first breath brought applause from the audience. A far cry from the days of the original film where his appearance would draw boo''s of course for the 'bad guy' as opposed to boo's for stupid CG characters (who could that be?). And yes, Vader rising (RISE!) complete with James Earl Jones voice was fantastic. My one big complaint here: if he was going to ask about Padme at all it should have been before the final element of the Vader suit enclosed around him. That first breath needed to be a symbol that Vader had completely taken over and Anakin was gone, along with any feelings for Padme. Anakin using the Force to choke her should have been the final turning away point. She was a traitor now in his dark side tainted eyes, end of story.

Probably one of the most startling scenes, the type I never thought Lucas would reach for after "Empire", is when Anakin enters a room where younglings are hiding. They ask for help and his response is to ignite his light saber, poised to kill them. The scene cuts away but the suggestion is one I thought George would never entertain or portray. Ditto on the savageness of Count Dooku's demise...I was impressed. In general the grand sense that the end is near for all things 'good' echoes throughout the montage of Jedi being murdered. The music, again, is wonderful here.

Yoda gained his share of crowd-pleasing applause swinging his light saber and kicking ass once again. Best lines here: Sidious - "Master Yoda, you survived?", Yoda - "Surprised?". Another moment the audience reacted nicely to was the first view of a Bail Organa, Obi Wan, and Yoda walking down one of the hallways of the "Star Wars" blockade runner, Tantive IV. Too cool. Nice connector to Princess Leia one day presiding over the vessel. It's the family car that gets passed down to the kids. Alright I'll shut up about wanting to see the Millennium Falcon...but it still would have ruled!!

I felt tears swell up as baby Leia was brought home to Alderaan and especially when Luke was delivered to the waiting Owen and Baru against the setting suns on Tattoine; the anticipation of 'a new hope'. It was a wondrous, emotional end to an uneven prequel trilogy which I always felt had some good moments. Just not the parts where a little boy yelled "yippee!' or a lop eared aquatic spouted "pee-yusa!". Siiddown!!

C3PO's memory gets wiped to protect the twins, Yoda, and Obi Wan...BUT R2'S MEMORY IS STILL IN TACT! SWEET! He's allowed to remember everything and yet can't speak a word of it to anyone anyway! Now that puts an interesting spin on watching him in the other movies.

A shot of Qui Gonn briefly and silently appearing to Obi Wan in his hovel on Tattoine for a first 'after-life' lesson would have been a very nice touch though.

Lucas definitely made up for some of the slips and falls he had with "Clones" and especially "Menace", the latter being an episode we didn't really need. That was more like Episode 0. "Clones" should have been the beginning of the story. Overall "Sith" was moving, action filled, and left me wanting more. I never took the time to read the Timothy Zahn books which many consider to be Episode VII, VIII, and IX in a sense. Now I will. Looking forward to the proposed TV series Lucas announced recently...just don't give it to the fucking Sci-Fi Channel where they'll spend a whopping $1.98 per episode!

Next Wednesday night The Arclight will be presenting the original "Star Wars", with "Empire" screening a week later. I bought really good advanced tickets for both shows. Four hours later they had sold out. Can't wait. The audience in itself will be amazing. Then the following weekend I plan to see "Sith" again.

On a side note of course this Tuesday night is the screening of "Aliens" at The Arclight plus Q&A with Gale Ann Hurd and Stan Winston. This is going to be a great week...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Two New Post Houses & "Sith" Week!

A lot has happened work wise since my post about that call from Robert at The Cannery. After completing my 1 day on several making-of featurettes for a new "Spider-Man" video game (contractually I can't say any more at this time), I received a follow up call during C3 from the producer I worked with. She said changes had come back from the client and that they wanted me to continue on the project. They knew I was on the east coast and that I'd be returning sometime the following week. But now with an early return on client comments they wanted to begin as soon as possible.

I explained that I would not be returning to LA until 5 days or so later. She said she'd call back after conferring others. A half hour later I get a call stating they would like to Fed-Ex a firewire hard drive to me for delivery when I return to Albany! I'd mentioned to Robert, the now Director Of Post Production for The Cannery, that I had Final Cut Pro at home and on my laptop which he obviously passed along to them. With this drive containing the project files and all media connected with it I could continue working on the project from 3,000 miles away, sending them EDL's (edit decision lists) via e-mail when I was done. Then they'd link media from their mirrored drive to my cut. God bless technology! I was very taken by the fact they wanted to facilitate my involvement as opposed to just getting some other editor to pick up the slack. They liked my work and wanted me specifically. Wow! This was a major confidence move on their part that I wasn't going to take lightly. Naturally I said 'yes'.

While in Albany I worked 2 and a half days on the project even through a 2nd set of client comments. All in all they (The Cannery and Activision) liked my cuts very much. There was some content that needed to be rearranged and polished but nothing too flamboyant. All together I cut 3 making-of featurettes plus a game demo trailer.

As the final week of my stay in Albany came to a close the phone began ringing...

First came a call out of the blue from a post house I had dropped a reel and resume off at a little over 8 months ago. Precision Productions + Post (new link to your right along with one for The Cannery) does trailers, promos, making-of documentaries and featurettes for DVD's, as well as other long form film projects. They include "The Day After Tomorrow", "X2", "Master & Commander: The Far Side Of The World", "Troy", and "Titanic", just to name a few. Check out their web site for more details. Definitely a major player, definitely a fantastic opportunity!

Their post production coordinator left a voice mail message stating he had my resume in front of him and wanted to see if I could come in for a meeting the following week. My call back gained an interview date of Monday, May 9...the day after my return to LA. Going into this meeting I expected to hear they were in need of freelancers and that I would be getting a call sometime soon. I never expected they'd ask if I could start on a project the very next day! So after commenting on my resume, asking for more info about the type of work I'd done, plus viewing an updated copy of my DVD reel (which I brought) on the spot, work on Tuesday was scheduled to begin at 10am. Now THIS is turnaround!

My first project would be to create several Yahoo! exclusive greetings from Lindsey Lohan and Herbie heralding the upcoming "Herbie Fully Loaded". Then move on to a 90 second making-of promo for the new 20th Century Fox film entitled, "Tristan and Isolde". Again, contractually that's about all I can enpart on this public site. Last week finished out with 3 days of work and a request that I be put on hold for several other projects coming in over the course of the next two weeks. So as "Sith" week starts I begin my 2nd week with Precision, today doing some work on a spot for Disney's "The Greatest Game Ever Played". We're still waiting for further comments on "Tristan & Isolde". The initial group really liked the first cut but now it must pass by some of the higher-ups at Fox.

And yes, there's even more...

KO Creative called once again (same week as Precision) to check on my schedule for several projects possibly happening over a two week period, which they also wanted to put me on hold for. Unfortunately within the next week they'd fallen through the cracks and I once again was in the 'your on our list to call when something comes in'. Hey the main thing is they called a third time! That first gig is coming soon.

Last but not least, I spoke with a fellow editor about two months ago about openings at The Disney Channel for freelance promo editors. He was moving on to new territory and asked if he could pass along my resume to them. After that transaction was made the phone didn't ring for some time and I began to feel like the opportunity had somehow passed. Suddenly, and the day after that call came in from Precision, a post coordinator from The Disney Channel called to check on availability. She asked for an copy of my DVD reel which I overnighted from Albany. Several days later another call from her assistant asked if I could come by for a proper interview and discuss my schedule. The proper interview got put off a bit but only until they'd absolutely need me, and at that point it seemed I was 'in' and that the meeting was simply a formality. A third call expressed regret that two projects pending had not materialized but that they definitely wanted to get me in there. The Disney Channel is not top on my list but still would be a great opportunity as well as good work. I'd also be cutting promos for ABC Family. We'll see what happens...

So here we are just three, count 'em three, days away from the premiere of "Revenge Of The Sith". I just heard over the weekend that the 501st Stormtrooper Brigade will be marching through Hollywood Wednesday night for a 7pm ceremony at The Arclight. I will SO be there! Also planned will be lightsaber demonstrations by stunt fighters representing Master Replicas from Wednesday through Saturday night. Since I now possess multiple night tickets at The Arclight through Saturday I'm really looking forward to enjoying what is fast looking like a four day party event! The first midnight showing will kick off a 24 hour marathon of screenings with the Arclight Cafe staying open all night. "Man, this is gonna to be good!". Advance reviews has positioned this film next to "Empire". Santa, say it is so!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Star Wars Celebration III Report

After more than two weeks I'm finally writing about our adventures at the Star Wars Celebration III in Indianapolis! My neglect comes from the size of what I knew this posting would be...FRIGGIN’ HUGE!! Just had to be in the mood to start writing which I finally have been. Also there have been some major breakthroughs in the career arena. I am now working for two new post houses. Many details to follow in the next post!

What an amazing, incredible, mind blowing, all immersive, fantabulous event C3 was!! To your right are the links to 2 photo album sites that encompass 109 of the 238 pictures I took. Once you click on each thumbnail to expand the photo, look for a small icon named 'all sizes' directly above the pic that allows you to open to a full 740 X 555 version. PLEASE ASK ME FIRST before linking these to yours or any other sites for privacy reasons. In other words the same rules apply as the link for this blog. Tax and title extra, void where prohibited, yadda, yadda, yadda. So there, that’s my disclaimer and I’m stickin’ to it! Now on to the show…

Bill and I flew to Indianapolis on Wednesday meeting Allen and his son Ryan (who had arrived 5 hours earlier) at the Embassey Suites hotel one block from the RCA Dome. The event didn't start until Thursday but we wanted to get in and get settled. Besides you could get you entry badge, lanyard, and event materials up until 8pm that night. Nicely convenient to have that separate from doors opening on Day I. Of course there were hundreds of people doing just that when we got there.

One nice luxury was a connecting bridge from the hotel to the RCA Dome complex passing through a mall on the way. This came in handy when three of the four days became rainy and windy. After we picked up our memberships and goody bags the four of us ogled a display case showing all the C3 promotional items that would be on sale in the Celebration III Store starting the next day...a true nightmare to get at we would come to realize on Thursday. Top on everyone's much prized list was a special C3 talking Darth Vader action figure with new lines recorded exclusively for the event by James Earl Jones. When you push a button on the front of the package he’d say, 'Welcome to C3. You will never find a more rechdd hive of scum and villainly'. Too cool! These were aloted to everyone who had purchased a four day membership which we all did in advance. From there we went to Bocca De Pepo for dinner, talking with a couple of fans at the next table about what we might expect. So without further adieu...

Thursday, Day I

The Line!! I was a little late getting myself together in the morning so Bill, Allen, and Ryan proceeded to the RCA Dome to wait in it. I got there just a short while later only to have to walk the distance of several blocks to arrive at the end! Thank God Allen and I used our cell phones to coordinate locations which came in very handy during the entire weekend. Winding around the building I finally found the 3 of them waiting near the end of the Star Wars Fan Club line. We all signed up for the Club which provided us the ability to get in first, followed by the general public an hour later. A number of ‘people mazes’ revealed how much of a crowd was ahead of us and roughly the amount of wait time.

Costumes of course were in abundance! The 501st is a "Wars" fan organization that specialize in Stormtrooper armor and Imperial garb. They acted as volunteers to guide and wrangle people throughout the event which was a tall order to say the least; 30,000 THOUSAND PEOPLE would ultimately be in attendance!!

Finally getting in the door, we split up (Allen with Ryan, me with Bill) to hunt about and start taking everything in. Each function room had a giant banner above it heralding what was inside. None of this little white piece of paper computer print out crap! But then of course this whole thing was sponsered by Lucasfilm so we got the red carpet treatment all around. Bill and I were both going nuts looking at everything! We headed for the Fan Fair Hall which housed many fan oriented creations, events, and organizations. It included the young Jedi training stage where younglings had a chance to learn Jedi skills and even tangle with surprise visitor Darth Vader. A full scale X-Wing was the centerpiece complete with pilot, ready made for photo taking. There were huge displays of miniature scenes from all the films populated by action figures and vehicles including a giant layout of the Death Star. During the course of the weekend they would have events like the Stormtrooper Olympics and Droid 500 derby in this hall.

Something I began to appreciate right away was the refreshment stands at every turn. You didn't have to think, 'O.K. where are the nearest eateries down the street'. Everything was right at your fingertips; hot dogs, pizza, subs, desserts, drinks. etc. Another very nice addition was the room that housed a complete one-stop-shopping UPS store. That was very smart on the part of Gen-Con. No hunting for the nearest post office which came in handy when Bill had to ship 7 or 8 packages of merchandise he'd bought back to Albany.

Outside and across the street the 501st were closing ranks to begin their march down the street and back up to the RCA Dome. Several hundred Storm, Clone, and Speeder Bike Troopers along with a large group of black and grey clad Imperial officers began forming while event bystanders clicked cameras. The photos will say the rest. The sheer numbers...just an amazing sight to behold.

Entering the main Exhibit Hall was like arriving in the Land Of Oz. Everything was bright and sparkly and you almost had to wear sunglasses so you wouldn't be blinded by the amazement. This is where Bill and I kicked in to total splendor mode. We were like, "Oh My Go...Holy Shi...Oh Jeez look at tha...IT'S BE-AUTIFUL!!!!". After sticking together for a little while we split up to consume the room. Allen and Ryan were now in the Hall as we were once again in contact by cell phone. Occasionally we'd meet up, compare what we bought, figure out what we wanted for lunch, and dive back into the fun.

Then came the ever increasing crowds.

The line to get in to the Celebration III store was a 7 or 8 hour wait! After 7,000 people got in the fire marshall came by and closed it for safety purposes. Several hundreds were turned away, given yellow wrist bands to come back tomorrow and resume their place in line. Unfortunately when Friday came the store was still not open, nor would it be for a good portion of the day. Thus the complaining began. I think for the most part everyone was having an amazing time. But crowd control was starting to become a nightmare. You'd think by the third time around they might have anticipated this kind of turnout. No matter. We still had 3 more days...

Thursday night brought the Celebration III Opening Ceremonies with host Warwick Davis along Jay Laga'aia (Captain Typho from "Attack Of The Clones") who at one point sang Weird Al's "The Saga Begins". Darth Vader led a large group of stormtroopers to the stage to begin the event which included an appearance by Rick McCallum, SW collector Steve Sansweet, plus all the guest of honor in attendance which encompassed the likes of Peter Mayhew, Jeremy Bulloch, and Kenny Baker, just to name a few. A special pre-recorded 'hello' from Ewan McGregor (“hello there”), Natalie Portman, Samual L. Jackson, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee (“I’m not drunk”) and Ian McDirmmid was shown on several large projection screens. They also premiered one of the music videos from the "Sith" soundtrack DVD, "A Hero Falls", which rounded out the evening to thunderous applause. God bless it!

On the schedule each night was showings of the first 5 films on a big screen in one of the function halls. I really wanted to at least catch “Star Wars” and “Empire” with a room full of cheering fans. But by the time the Opening Ceremonies were over we were all pretty tired. Besides when we did check it out briefly they had the volume up to an obscene, almost unbearable level. The desire to see the original films with fans would be solved here in Hollywood just a short few weeks later. But more about that after this posting.

Friday, Day II

Same line, different day. Luckily this time we were only half the distance from the door but still around the back of the expo center. This day brought more purchases, more hobnobbing with fans young and old, and the frustration by some of the ever exploding crowd situation. The Celebration III store and the talking Darth Vader action figure would have to wait yet another day. It was now time for Bill and I to buy our Master Replicas Lightsabers in the Exhibit Hall. I knew I wanted one when I first saw them at Border’s Books late last summer. Here was the perfect occasion. We both picked up Luke’s from the original film while Ryan chose Anakin’s from “Sith” for himself.

By now everyone was anticipating Saturday mornings audience with George Lucas who would be giving 3 half hour presentations starting at 9am. As the day wore on we became increasingly aware that the line for George would be starting earlier and earlier in the morning. It became apparent that folks would begin gathering sometime around 11pm and midnight Friday night. Allen decided he would brave the elements to stand in line overnight to see George. A quick discussion between Bill and I came to the conclusion that to stay up all night would be detrimental to our fully enjoying Saturday in general. Even though this was George Lucas we were giving up. Ryan would also be sleeping in. That night Ryan, Bill, and I opened our lightsabers for some playtime. As we headed for the lobby of the hotel just to hang out and swing our Jedi weapons we found 12 others also with Master Replica sabers looking to do the very same thing. Many a duel was had into the night. Allen left around 11:45 to join the line waiting outside the Expo center for Lucas’ presentation. Later we would learn that when he arrived there 200 people were already ahead of him!

Saturday, Day III

Bill, myself, and Ryan got up around 6am to prepare to meet Allen in line for Lucas, after what we learned was a long, rainly, and windy night for him. The good news was event personnel felt bad and allowed he and as many others as possible to enter the building and wait protected from the elements. The only problem: Allen was now past the badge checkers where we could not easily join up with him. By this time we were at least glad Allen got in and the fact we were getting in line a bit earlier than the past two days. However the wind and rain continued into the morning making our 2 hour wait from 7 – 9am somewhat unbearable. Luckily Bill had brought an umbrella. There was little choice because we knew if we waited perhaps another hour or two to get in line we’d be back as far as Tatooine. So we stuck it out freezing our asses off and trying to make lite with others in line.

Allen called on the cell phone to say he was heading in to Lucas as we were warming ourselves by the food eateries. After poking around a bit Bill decided to gather some of the merchandise he picked up in the Exhibit Hall and bring it to the UPS room. As the day progressed we ogled Slave Girl Princess Leia’s (and Han Solo’s), marveled at General Grievous clanking down the hallway, paid our respects to several Queen Amidala’s, cautiously greeted Count Dooku, brushed past the scheming Zam Wessel and Jango Fett, and crossed sabers with Anakin Skywalker. All costumes of very high quality I might add. Hey, “Star Wars” fans mean business! Despite the increasing crowd difficulties multiplied by Saturday admissions, everyone was extremely friendly and in great spirits. You could go into the men’s room and spend 15 minutes just standing around talking…until the flush of toilets became annoying. That’s actually how I found out more about Lucas’ talk since we hadn’t met up with Allen yet.

Finally we grouped with Allen later in the morning to hear tales of George’s talk. Sounded like more of a publicity stunt, answering four pre-arranged questions he gave five minute long answers to. Plus most info he gave on future projects a lot of folks already knew about. Well hey…it would have been good to see the man in the flesh but at this point I was much happier being awake and reasonably rested. The One Man Star Wars Trilogy was next! For those who don’t know, this guy gets up on stage (his name is Charles Ross) and does the entire original trilogy with no props or costumes. Just himself and his multi talented voice doing all the sound effects, dialogue, and music, with a short one minute break in between each film. When the Death Star blows up he runs out into the audience and circles back around to the stage symbolizing the shock wave. Amazing and insanely funny!

And so as Saturday turned to night Bill and I decided we wanted to head back to the expo center to just hang out with our lightsabers. There were a lot of people about since the Celebration @ Celebration III was underway; a party for Fan Club members that had unfortunately sold out by the time we tried to buy tickets online. Over to one side of the hallway where Anakin clashed with Ewok and Stormtrooper hit on bounty hunter we came across this one guy dressed as Obi Wan from “Clones” who looked very familiar. I’d seen him the day before but couldn’t quite place the face. Suddenly it hit me. He was one of the fans waiting in the New York line for “Episode II” in the Triumph The Insult Comic Dog video from Conan O’Brien! Bill and I had watched that countless times on my computer which is how I eyed the guy in the first place. O.K. I had to say something now! As I approached he turned toward me, saw my recognizing look and blurted out, ‘nope it wasn’t me’. Apparently a lot of folks were connecting him to the now legendary clip from “Late Night”. He wasn’t annoyed though and we spoke for a moment about the whole thing. Than I noticed a girl standing over to the left who also looked familiar. Right away she glanced at me and said, ‘no that wasn’t me it was her!’, pointing to her friend. It was indeed the ‘only girl in line who had her pick of the litter from all kinds of guys who didn’t know how to please her’. These guys were kind of like celebrities to Bill and I…FOR ME TO POOP ON! The entire bit is on Triumph’s DVD compilation.

Sunday, Day IV

Aaahhh, oh no it’s almost over! That’s how we felt at the beginning of what would be a somewhat short day with the event closing at 4pm. Bill was getting the last of his purchases shipped back to Albany at the UPS store room while Allen, being the ‘all or nothing’ element of our little band (he is of course a Scout leader), decided to wait out the line and finally get into the Celebration III Store. After 5 or so hours he managed to claim our talking Darth Vader C3 action figures as well as a few other items. Calling me from inside, he said the line for the registers to pay was taking over 1 hour to traverse!

I myself was finally going to tackle the line to see the Lucas Archives room where a number of original filming props and costumes were on display. Allen and Ryan came by after breaking free from the Celebration III Store. A huge throng of people were now converging on a life size Tauntaun accompanying a Luke, Han, and frost covered Chewbacca from “Empire”. Those guys grabbed my place in line so I could snap a few. Again, the photos will say the rest. Just too cool.

A final run through the Fan Fair room, where we discovered another ‘celebrity’ from the Triumph video, the ‘what do you tell your imaginary girlfriend?’ guy, and ultimately we found ourselves in the Exhibit Hall for the last time as 4pm approached; closing time. I hadn’t seen Bill since he left the room that morning. Allen, Ryan, and I converged at the refreshment stand as we scanned the room one last time for some prized item to buy. I think at that point we were ‘bought out’ however. A voice came over the loudspeaker stating the room would be closing shortly so the three of us made our way into the outer hallway. Just as the room closed we spotted Bill walking up. He’d taken time to get in the lengthy autograph lines and meet some of the stars of the Saga. We didn’t want to leave but knew it was time to go. Hung out just for a little bit to take one last breath in. By now Bill and I were thinking the same thing; they HAVE to do another one!

Monday, Departure Day

Allen and Ryan had a 6am flight Monday morning with Bill and I departing around 3:15pm. Since I had to UPS my lightsaber home (Bill shipped his Sunday) Allen asked if I would ship Ryan’s home to them. I didn’t want to take time away from the event on Sunday to stand in line at the UPS room so I opted to walk around the corner to the actual store. I stood in line with 5 other people who were doing the same exact thing. One guy turned around and asked us what we thought of C3. Any negative comments were directed solely with crowd control but otherwise we all had an amazing time. He turned out to be a member of Gen Con, the organization that was running the actual mechanics of the Lucasfilm sponsored event. Apparently Lucasfilm had already approached them about doing another one (C4?) for the 30th anniversary of the first film in 2007. To which I thought, ‘COUNT US THE HELL IN!!’. Before leaving the store I said ‘please do it’ and he replied they’re working towards that. So we’ve got that going for us…which is nice.

As we left C3 and Indianapolis one thing became clear; WE’RE COMIN’ BACK REAL SOON!!

The End

…cut to Star Wars end credits iris dissolve accompanied by main theme. It’d be better to hear it but you get the point. Now if you haven’t fallen asleep by now with the length of this post, feel free to go on with your lives.