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!!
…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.