May 2017 ~ Disney Ways Of The Force Day

Disney Stores across the UK announced that the May Day Bank Holiday weekend would be Star Wars Weekend in the majority of their stores.

Most of their Star Wars products would be on sale at 50% off and there would be activities for kids in-store as well as members of the UK Garrison/501st Cosplayers present as well.

I took my niece and nephews to the Westfield London store and they had an amazing time (and spent a small fortune- my own fault!). They bought a number of Star Wars items, had fun with the Stormtroopers and took part in Jedi Training which involved learning the Jedi mind trick, how to use a Lightsaber and then helping to blow up the Death Star. At the end they were given a medal.

It was an awesome little event and I hope now that Disney own Star Wars, they do something similar every year!

March 2017~ An Audience With Gareth Edwards

BAFTA occasionally host “An audience with” type events. This month it was to be with Gareth Edwards, director of hit movies such as Godzilla (2014) and the latest blockbuster in the Star Wars universe, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This event was organised in conjunction with BAFTA Cymru and took place on St David’s day.

The evening began with a showreel of Gareth’s work, including some unused footage from Rogue One. Gareth then went on to talk about his work, his life in general and things that had influenced him. He then took questions from the audience.

I particularly enjoyed hearing about his work on Rogue One and how he filmed it in a very organic/fluid way. Indie hour also seemed an interesting concept where any idea, from any crewmember was considered and most likely shot.

Only one thing spoiled it for me. The day before, we received an email from BAFTA saying that Gareth would sign autographs for about 10 minutes afterwards. I took my Rogue One book just in case. There were a group of autograph hunters (more likely dealers) who shoved their way to the front and in many cases had 15-20 items each to get signed. It’s just very inconsiderate when you consider the fact that there were about 50 people wanting autographs and that he was only doing 10 minutes. Luckily, the man is a trooper and stayed long enough to sign for everyone.

Interestingly enough, lots of items signed by him appeared on a popular auction website the following day! Some starting at £50….

December 2016~ RIP Carrie Fisher

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The news of Carrie Fisher’s death has hurt a lot. The last time I was this upset about a celebrity was Leonard Nimoy.

Like Grandpa Leonard, Carrie played one of the most iconic characters in arguably the biggest sci-fi film franchise ever. Again, like Spock, Leia was one of my favourite characters.

I’ve always been drawn to two types of character. The odd/out-of-place/alien character (Spock) and strong female characters such as Leia (Uhura, Ripley, Sam Carter etc) and I think this is because I have always felt that good female characters have been, until recently few and far between.

Having spent a big part of my life surrounded by strong female characters (cue sarcastic comment from workmate) it seemed natural that I follow them with interest. Yes, they are on the whole also very good looking but it is deeper than that. The characters have been very well written and very well portrayed by the actresses that played them.

What makes it more real is when you meet these people in real life. You are able to engage with them on social media etc.

Occasionally you meet an actor or actress and you wish you hadn’t but on the whole it is a wonderful experience. It makes you love them and the characters even more.

If you were to take a time machine back 39 years and visit my bedroom in Whistler Tower in Chelsea you would find lots of Star Wars memorabilia (among other things like Trek etc.) but at that time my pride and joy was my Princess Leia poster (above). She was my first big idol/crush whatever you want to call it. This 5 year old was besotted (I’m sure my dad will verify!). I always wanted to meet her at some point.

I missed her a few times at conventions but finally got the chance, however brief, to do so. She was incredibly funny, quick-witted and genuinely warm with all her fans. There was nothing fake about her. Just like you see her on TV/Twitter she is open about who and what she is and there is no nonsense. She gave out freebie autographs to kids (which pissed off certain con-organisers to no end) and made sure everyone had a memory to take away with them and cherish.

It was great to see her again in The Force Awakens and I look forward to seeing her again as Leia in Episode VIII.

She will always be royalty to me ….both Hollywood and Star Wars.

My thoughts go out to her daughter Billie, her mum Debbie and all of her friends, family and fans around the world.

So long Princess. May the Force be with you….

Carrie Fisher

December 2016~ Rogue One Opening Night

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first anthology film to come out of Disney/Lucasfilm studios.

Set prior to the events of Episode IV, the film tells the story of how the Rebel Alliance stole the plans for the original Death Star. It’s basically what you see in the opening crawl of A New Hope.

I won’t give any spoilers. Suffice to say it is awesome and fits in well with established canon. It ends minutes before Episode IV begins and is pretty seemless!

I saw the film on opening night at Vue Westfield. Luckily enough, The Symphonic Brass Ensemble of London were there playing music from the films beginning with my personal favourite, The Star Wars Disco Mix. Click play on the video below….

December 2016~ Star Wars Identities

The Star Wars Identities exhibition opened at The O2 on November 18th and runs through until September 2017.

The exhibition consists of 2 parts that run side by side. The first is a display of over 200 props, costumes and art from the first 7 films. Some of the props and miniatures are original whilst some were recreated for the later films. That doesn’t stop them being awesome. I had two highlights. The display of Imperial and Rebel spacecraft and the Jedi hall at the very end.

The second part is very interactive. Using Anakin and Luke as a starting point, you get to look at father and son and see what influenced them and did that have an effect on the path they chose. You are given a digital audio guide and a wristband. As you go around you start by choosing if you are human or alien and if so which alien are you. You choose your home planet and your desired occupation. The further along you go you more of your traits you get to build up until at the very end you have a complete character in the Star Wars universe. It can even be displayed on a big screen.

Well worth the money and I would recommend going during quiet periods so you can spend time with the exhibits!

August 2016~ Harrod’s Star Wars Gallery

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I heard from a mate that Harrods had a special Star Wars gallery open for the month of August. It wasn’t well publicised because the exhibit, run by Propworx, was aimed at those people who could afford for buy hi-end props and sets, and I do mean hi-end!! Luckily it was open to everyone if you knew where to look.

The entrance was hidden behind a black door next to the statue of Rey in the Harrods Disney Store. Only 10 people were allowed in at a time and we had a very knowledgable guide to talk us through everything.

Everything below in the photos was for sale…..if you could afford it!

Note: Hologram images were photoshopped in afterwards.

 

July 2016~ London Film & Comic Con 2016

LFCC has not been great the past few years (see previous posts) and I was wary about attending but nevertheless volunteered to help on the USS Iceni stand to raise money for charity.

It seems Showmasters have finally listened! The layout this year was so much better than in previous years. They had actually hired the whole of the venue it seemed and whilst it took a while to get from A to B sometimes, it actually helped a lot.

I wasn’t really going to see celebs this year. Normally I see around 20. I had initially had 8 to see over a weekend but this quickly became 9 when the announced a young actress from a great new show called Stranger Things. I won’t go into what the show is about on here but I suggest you check it out for yourself. If you like the 1980s, ET, The Goonies, Stand By Me and Stephen King then this show is for you. All the kid actors were great but Millie Bobby Brown, who played Eleven stole the show. I’ve worked with kids for nearly 30 years and don’t normally get phased by them but her performance freaked me out. There has to be an award somewhere in her future and I really hope the show gets a second season. As for how she handled the convention itself well all I can say is that Millie did a better job at the event than some big, A-List celebs I could mention. She took time to interact and was doing awesome poses in the photoshoot. A lot of big names and regular con guests could learn a lot from her. I must meet the rest of the cast now. Hope they get invited!

There was some awesome cosplay on display as usual (pics below) and a really good exhibition of costumes from Suicide Squad.

Overall it was a great event. I ended up meeting Jack Gleeson (Joffrey in GoT), Fay Marsay (The Waif in GoT), Kae Alexander (Leaf in GoT),  Michael Emerson (Ben in LOST), Laurie Holden (Andrea in TWD), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal and Galen Erso in Star Wars: Rogue One), Harold Perrineau (Michael in LOST), Millie of course and finally, the biggest let down of the weekend, Famke Jansen. I heard many conflicting reason as to why she seemed so grumpy but her photoshoot was a waste of money. As an actress surely you can act happy!

Anyway, photos below!