I was overjoyed when I heard that I would be going back to Skywalker Ranch for the second time. After my first visit, I never thought I would see the beautiful Marin County workplace of George Lucas again. Thankfully, my first assignment from Scholastic was to cover a press junket, or promotional trip, for Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace in 3D. Skywalker Ranch was similar to a resort with an outdoor swimming pool, racquet courts, a baseball diamond, barns, a main house, a man-made lake (named Ewok), a vineyard and much more. It was quite overwhelming, even going for a second time.
Once I arrived at Skywalker Ranch, the shuttle headed towards the technical building, the home of the Stag Theater and Skywalker Sound. I was then greeted by eager Lucasfilm staff that led me through a grand cafeteria/lobby that was filled with parents and their kids running around with their lightsabers and adults carrying heavy camera equipment. On one side were mannequins dressed with the costumes of Queen Amidala, one of her handmaidens, Darth Maul, and Mace Windu. There were also lightsabers and statues of R2D2 and C3PO on display. A KINECT Star Wars demonstration was also going on in the lobby. The roof was a skylight and I was lucky to have come on a beautiful sunny day.
After eating a cute Star Wars-themed breakfast, the reporters and journalists set off with groups to certain areas of the building to hear Matthew Wood, John Goodson, ObiShawn, or Joel Aron speak about what they do. Once the tours were over, the press people dispersed to have one-on-one time with the tech crew of the movie.
The rooms where each demonstration/interview were held had its own pinch of awe. I visited the Stag Theater, a sound editing room, where they mix the score, voice-recordings, and sound effects, which amazingly connects to a cozy foyer leading to the vineyards.
After all the hard work was done, I bought souvenirs from the Skywalker Ranch gift shop, which was overlooking Ewok Lake and surrounded by the pool and recreational areas. The weather was spectacular for January and I thought it would be a perfect photo op, especially with the main house in the background.
It was a fantastic way to end the day, and I wished Skywalker Ranch farewell, with hopes to see it again soon.
Check out my video reports from the Episode I press junket on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website!
Photo: Kid Reporter Veronica Louise Mendoza and other kid journalists get trained on how to use a lightsaber by Jedi Master ObiShawn. (Photo courtesy Veronica Louise Mendoza)