There are places in this world that are legendary to us über-nerds. Skywalker Ranch, located 40 minutes north of San Francisco is one of those places.
Earlier this week I was privileged to visit the fabled home of Lucasfilm's amazing postproduction facility, Skywalker Sound and tour the ranch itself.
I was invited along with 24 other bloggers to come up to Skywalker Ranch and preview the latest film from the mind of George Lucas, Strange Magic.
So, let's just review so far:
I went to George Lucas' famed Skywalker Ranch to preview the latest film from the mind of George Lucas. (I know. Shut up.)
Let's continue now, won't we?
I have made notes and composed this post at least a dozen times because I want to share every little detail with you, but seriously, there's just too much to tell.
Skywalker Ranch is a gorgeous slice of heaven. It's George Lucas' vision of perfection. Tranquil, without any extraneous signs of techi-ness (is that a word?) lies the most celebrated (arguably) audio post-production facility in the world.
The feeling I got when we arrived at the property was that I had stepped right onto the set a beautiful movie.
The Tech Building
Our first stop was the Tech Building, which looks nothing like you would imagine a Tech Building to look like, because it fit right into the scenery and looked more like a fabulous Tuscan vineyard.
This is the home of Skywalker Sound. This Tuscan-villa-looking place houses a world-class scoring stage, six mix studios, ADR and Foley stages, 34 editing suites, and a 300-seat screening room. All in this breathtakingly pristine setting.
If you didn't know any of this, you would just be in awe of the majesty of the place and wondering which way to the tasting room.
But right when we walked in, I felt comfortable, and welcomed. Not intimidated at all. (Unless, of course, I stopped and remembered that we were truly in the very heart of all that is good and holy about the center of the Lucasfilm Universe, at which point I freaked out just a litte, but that's not important right now.)
The property includes the iconic main house, just down there, past the vineyard at the end of the road.
And the beautiful Lake Ewok. (I swear that's the name of it. Isn't that just delicious?) We were told that it's stocked with fish and even suitable for swimming in the summer time.
We entered the Tech Building. (did I mention it looked more like a villa in Tuscany than anything to do with tech?)
And we were escorted straight into the main dining area. (This made me very happy, but that's not important right now, either.)
This open, airy, bright, naturally lit space was much more "ranch-like" than what the exterior portrayed. It was decorated simply with George Lucas' extensive collection of classic movie posters from as far back as the 20's and 30's.
The Stag Theater, a 300 seat beauty with the Most Perfect Sound and Acoustics of Any Movie Theater on the Planet (OF COURSE), was where we were treated to the screening of the film, Strange Magic.
The screen is guarded on either side by the statues that were seen in Star Wars Episode II in Emperor Palpatine's office. (Excuse me, please. My nerdiness is showing.)
Strange Magic opens everywhere on Friday, January 23rd. I promise to review the film next week, but until then, here's a preview.
Just before the film began, George Lucas himself snuck into the theater to watch the movie with us. (I know. Don't hate.)
So, again, let's just recap where we are right now. We were screening the new animated film, Strange Magic from the mind of George Lucas with George Lucas.
I can barely stand it myself.
After the screening of the film, we were treated to a performance by Elijah Kelley (Hairspray, Red Tails, The Butler), the voice of Sunny the Elf in the film.
We interviewed director Gary Rydstrom, Elijah Kelley, and George Lucas himself. I'll post those interviews next week, I promise.
Meanwhile, back at The Ranch... (<--see what I did there?)
Lunch happened. And excuse me while I get off track here for just a moment, but wow! that was the best strawberry shortcake I've ever tasted. *starts researching strawberry shortcake recipes*
Please notice Humphrey Bogart, the obvious predecessor to Indiana Jones watching over our strawberry shortcakes.
The Main House
The 50,000 square foot main house was all comfort and charm. With miles of wrap-around porch around this Victorian home with all redwood construction, it is the crown jewel of this property.
"Wait. What? We get to go inside?" Color me crazy-happy.
This is the part where I could not take any photos, so you'll just have to bear with me
The furnishings were very comfortable and had an earthy down-home feeling. Nothing pretentious at all. It could have been anyone's home, except for the curio cabinets found in the main entry. Imagine my delight that the first thing we encountered was a cabinet housing George's collectibles, mementos and gifts.
Among those was a weathered brown hat and bullwhip. (Use your imagination, please). And the Holy Grail. The HOLY GRAIL, people. Luke and Obi-wan's original light sabers and small scale models of the all terrain armored transports from Star Wars. I was in Star Wars über-nerd heaven.
The Lucasfilm Research Library.
You know that moment in Beauty and the Beast when Belle breathlessly sees the library for the first time? Yeah, that was pretty much all of us.
A stained glass dome at the top covers the 2-story fabulousness that is this library. Seriously, it has to be one of the 7 Wonders of the Movie-making World. The centerpiece of this glorious place is the grand spiral staircase, made entirely of wood, which was constructed right there at the ranch. The library houses the entire Lucasfilm collection of books, magazines, and periodicals. I could have easily spent days right there.
The Magical Light
I was impressed with the beautiful natural lighting everywhere in the main house. Lots of skylights and windows welcoming nature to literally come inside.
It felt warm and a little ethereal. There was a feeling of magic almost everywhere. And yet, maybe it was just the peaceful vistas from every window.
The General Store
We wrapped up our visit with a stop at the Skywalker Ranch General Store.
As you can imagine, I came home armed with logo gear for the entire family. Because SKYWALKER RANCH, of course.
As we finished up our tour, we stopped and looked back at the house from the aptly named Lake Ewok. This is the picture I wanted to keep in my mind of the beauty and perfection that is Skywalker Ranch.
What a blast to get to share the adventure with all these lovely bloggers. Thanks to Disney and Touchstone Pictures I can cross another item off my Bucket List.
The spell cast by Skywalker Ranch is indeed some Strange Magic.
Stay tuned! I'll be writing much more about this trip next week. Strange Magic opens in theaters on Friday, January 23rd, 2015.