Long ago (last Tuesday), in a galaxy far, far away (more like, 400 miles anyway)… I got a once in a lifetime chance to tour the gorgeous Skywalker Ranch, and screen the upcoming Touchstone film from the mind of George Lucas, Strange Magic.
The film is really fun (review coming next week!) and delves into a land of fairies, dark and light, and love. I have always wondered where a man who dreams of such amazing, and imaginative things gets his inspiration from. After touring Skywalker Ranch, I may not see where he gets it but I know how he maintains it! The ranch is STUNNING and meant to inspire anyone who sets foot in it.
Construction for Skywalker Ranch began in 1978 (hey, that’s when I was born! Coincidence? I think not!) and our tour guide said that pretty much all the money George made of off the first Star Wars film went into building it. George wanted a place to create films that wasn’t a manufactured set and outside of the L.A. craziness, and when he found this space, on Lucas Valley Road (serendipitous right?), he knew he had found “the” spot. Located 40 minutes North of San Francisco, in beautiful Marin County, Skywalker Ranch is the home of renowned audio and post production facility, Skywalker Sound and the main building, which houses a library, and George’s own office.
Skywalker Sound aka “The Tech Building”
The tech building is may look like a winery (and it kinda is) but inside is where you will find a visual effects studio, a 300 seat state of the art movie theater, and a world class scoring stage.
This very theater is where we screened Strange Magic- with George Lucas sitting in one of those seats pictured! We all squealed inside as we noticed him quietly observing from the back. Everyone there was boasting about how amazing theater is, and I have to say- I have been spoiled now. The sound, the seats and the EVERYTHING about the Stag theater is amazing.
The front of the tech building has steps and is where wine grapes are grown. It definite has a Tuscan Wine villa feel.
The front of the building has a home feel to it. Our tour guide said that when George was in the process of designing everything, he wanted to make sure everything had a comfortable look and feel to it. It really felt like a place you go to get in a creative frame of mind.
After we screened the film, and interviewed Elijah Kelley, George Lucas and director Gary Rydstrom, we got a tour of the main building and had a gorgeous walk along Lake Ewok.
Skywalker Ranch Main House
Ok you guys…. the house is AMAZING. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but I here is the view from the outside.
This house is where magic is made. Not many get even this close to it, so the fact that I was about to tour this building was surreal. It’s over 50,000 sq. ft. and is home to Lucas’ office and many many pieces of art. George is a huge collector of Norman Rockwell in particular, but there are others as well as busts, sculptures and statues. There is also a massive library that made me want to bust out singing “ohhhhhh, isn’t this amazing….” The folks at Lucasfilm did send along a photo of the library, but I swear to you, it is even more incredible in person.
When you walk into the house, on the right hand side there are two 4 shelf glass cabinets that contain some gifts that have been given to George, like Charlie Chaplin’s cane and hat, as well as some artifacts & props from films like American Graffiti, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Willow. The further you go in you cross George’s office, the library as pictured above, a media room full of videos and LPs and so much more. We didn’t see all the house, but wow, was it amazing what we did see!
Honestly, I don’t know if my words or photos will do it any justice. It was an incredible experience and I am so lucky to have been there.
Come back next week to hear my interviews, film review and more that were part of this adventure!