#StrangeMagicEvent Visits A Galaxy Not So Far Away-Skywalker Ranch
I wanted Skywalker Ranch to be more of a “filmmaker’s retreat” than a headquarters for Lucas’s business operations”-George Lucas
Northern California is known for many extraordinary things – San Francisco, The Golden Gate Bridge, redwood trees that seem to touch the heavens, wineries as far as the eye can see and in a galaxy not so far away, Skywalker Ranch. A few days ago I was given a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel up into the lush green hills of Lucas Valley (named not for George Lucas but for one of the early pioneers of the area) above Marin County to visit The Ranch, which serves as the center hub to Lucasfilm, one of the entertainment world’s leading pioneers in visual effects and sound not to mention the birth place to such legendary film franchises as Star Wars and Indiana Jones. I had the chance not only to screen the latest film from the mind of George Lucas, Strange Magic, with executive producer Lucas himself, but tour this 47,000 acre slice of heaven.
As we traveled through the security gates and down the main road, a whole community appeared. Along the roadside were barns with animals, a garden with fruits and vegetables and hills lined with vineyards that produced several varieties of wines that are for sale in the Skywalker Ranch store.
Our first stop was the Technical Building a magnificent mixture of warm woods, stone, and bricks all surrounded by Cypress trees and vineyards. Parking is mostly concealed underground to preserve the natural landscape. In addition, the property, which boasts its own fire department, was designed with no above ground electrical poles or wiring, so as not to interrupt its natural beauty.
The Technical Building plays home to everything from Skywalker Sound which occupies the 153,000-square-foot Technical Building, to a world-class scoring stage, six mix studios, ADR and Foley stages, 34 editing suites, and mixing stages that feature film-dubbing stages, editorial services, scoring stages, one of which can accommodate a 130-piece orchestra. One of the many highlights of our visit to the Technical Building was our visit to the the 300-seat theater called “The Stag” where we were treated to our screening of Strange Magic, which opens in theaters everywhere a week from today on January 23. Strange Magic, a new animated film from Lucasfilm Ltd., is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by a battle over a powerful potion.
The quiet hallways of the building, so as not to disrupt the sound production process, are lined with Lucas’ collection of movie posters — the largest in the world. Out of the 4,700 acres encompassing Skywalker Ranch only 15 of those acres are actually utilized. Included are such amenities as an on site restaurant which uses the fruits and vegetables from the garden, an outdoor swimming pool and fitness center with racquetball, basketball and volleyball courts, and the tranquil, man-made Lake Ewok. In addition, it even has its own observatory as well as an Inn that accommodates Lucas’ personal guests, as well as filmmakers, musicians and actors who come to use the Ranch’s postproduction facilities or scoring stage. This facility has been the workplace for a long list of luminaries including Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, and Faith Hill.
Up the road from The Tech Building and Lake Ewok sits the stately Main House. Although Lucas himself does not live in the home, the 50,000-square foot house was designed to look like the 1869 Victorian home of a cattle rancher. The parlor is decorated with film mementos, including Indiana Jones’s bullwhip and hat, the Holy Grail Cup, as well as many lightsabers including one that actually flew into space on the Space Shuttle. The walls are lined with pieces from Lucas’ art collection, including several canvasses by Norman Rockwell and many rooms have the air of a museum. The house also includes an executive meeting room, a sitting room with a grand piano as well as a private screening room. The Main House is home to the Lucasfilm Research Library. Its grand spiral staircase, made entirely of wood, was constructed at the ranch mill shop. In addition to the thousands of books contained there, the library houses the Lucasfilm collection, which uses its books, periodicals and other materials to help create film, television and stage works. Behind the house, there is a magnificent fountain as well as iconic sculptures and a fountain that takes your breath away.
All too soon, our day at Skywalker Ranch came to an end. George Lucas once said that Skywalker Ranch was designed and intended to be more of a “filmmaker’s retreat” than a headquarters for business and operations. As I drove back down the windy Lucas Valley Road back into the real world, I smiled just a little, knowing that on one picture perfect day, I had just come from a place where real magic can and does happen and for a brief moment in time, I was a part of that magic.
How can you be a part of the magic of George Lucas? Don’t miss his newest film, Strange Magic, opening everywhere January 23. “Everyone deserves to be loved.”
“Strange Magic” floats into theaters everywhere January 23 but you don’t have to wait until then to keep on all the latest updates!
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STRANGE MAGIC opens in theaters everywhere on January 23rd!