In just a month, Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in movie theaters.
In October 1999, my life-long fandom and involvement with the popular Star Wars website TheForce.net landed me at a lunch on Skywalker Ranch which lead to my recruitment to take over the efforts at StarWars.com. I picked up my family, moved to the Bay Area, and for seven years was part of Lucasfilm’s marketing team through the remaining Star Wars prequels. I look back at that time as the best professional experience of my life for many reasons, but most of all the sheer uncompromising excellence of every person I had the pleasure of working with.
In 2006, I was burned out, missing my young children, and facing the gauntlet of Indiana Jones 4 with no further Star Wars in sight. I left my position at Lucasfilm to move back to Canada and start new life chapters.
In 2012, it was announced that Disney had purchased Lucasfilm and that a new wave of Star Wars films would be made. From my desk in Calgary, I had decidedly mixed emotions. As a fan, the prospect of a breath of fresh air in my beloved franchise made me giddy. On a professional level, my heart sank. There will be more Star Wars, and I will not be involved.
In the months that followed, many Lucas friends and colleagues ended up losing their jobs as Disney consolidated operations. I consoled myself that, in all likelihood, I would not have kept my position in the new efforts even if I had stayed. That said, a handful of those I worked with closely kept their positions and continue to guide the company and the story. So… maybe I could have done the same? I can talk myself into either possibility, depending how I want to feel about it.
I am proud that there are hints of the legacy of what I was trying to accomplish with the online marketing that have carried forward, even if such hints are in my mind only. I am proud of the team that I fought alongside who are still at Lucasfilm making a difference.
I am sad that the trivial blips I was able to contribute to official Star Wars lore were swept away in the expanded universe reboot… even though I am strongly in support of that housecleaning. (And advocated such a move while at Lucasfilm.)
I worry that the new Star Wars films will be amazing, and my time with Star Wars will be further tainted with some kind of asterisk because I was on board for the bad films.
If I could sum it up best, I feel like the girl who said “see you later” to Avril Lavigne’s Sk8er Boi and now stands in the concert crowd looking up at the guitar-playing Star Wars that I turned down.
That said, I will never be able to experience Attack of the Clones or Revenge of the Sith as a fan. I will think of the scenes I was off camera for. I will remember scene development and behind-the-scenes turmoil. I will remember alternate edits and creative choices. I wouldn’t trade it, but it’s something I can’t experience purely even these years later.
And so, with a month left to The Force Awakens, I’ve decided to make the most of it. I’ve avoided much of the speculation and spoilers. The day-to-day news. I’m avoiding all the new footage in commercials.
When I walk in to the first showing (not even a special screening) in my city on opening night, I will do so as a regular fan. Enjoying my trip to a galaxy far, far away just as the creators intended. Where I began.