The real-life Jedi Coun­cil polic­ing Planet 'Star Wars'

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Deep within Lu­cas­film's San Fran­cisco head­quar­ters, a group of el­ders act as a real-life Jedi Coun­cil-keep­ers of sa­cred knowl­edge who po­lice ev­ery­thing that hap­pens in the "Star Wars" uni­verse. Their job is to make sure ev­ery movie, an­i­mated tele­vi­sion show, novel, guide­book, comic and video game is part of one, big, in­ter­nally-con­sis­tent story. Known as the "Lu­cas­film Story Group," this ca­bal of around a dozen ex­perts main­tains a metic­u­lously de­tailed data­base of "Star Wars" lore, from ma­jor plot points to the tini­est spec­i­fi­ca­tions on a space­ship never seen on cam­era.

"A lot of what we do, and what I do specif­i­cally, is ba­si­cally keep­ing track of 'Star Wars' as a real place with a real his­tory," said cre­ative ex­ec­u­tive Pablo Hi­dalgo, some­times re­ferred to as the "Yoda of Lu­cas­film." "And then we see what that gets you as far as sto­ry­telling op­por­tu­ni­ties go." Set up when Dis­ney bought "Star Wars" in 2012, it was one of the first in­no­va­tions of pro­duc­ing leg­end and newly ap­pointed Lu­cas­film chief Kath­leen Kennedy. Led by Hi­dalgo, Car­rie Beck, Diana Wil­liams and a hand­ful of other life­long fans, the group's big first task was wip­ing the slate clean to make way for this new sin­gle nar­ra­tive. The group staged a Brexit of sorts from their own EU-Ge­orge Lu­cas's mainly fan-cre­ated "Ex­panded Uni­verse" of comics, nov­els, video games, and more, built up over decades.


That ma­te­rial would stay in cir­cu­la­tion un­der a new "Star Wars Leg­ends" ban­ner, but movie episodes seven to nine would not have to honor its many sto­ries. From then on, all ma­te­rial-from the new movies to the "Clone Wars" and "Rebels" an­i­mated se­ries-would go through the Story Group for ap­proval as part of the of­fi­cial "canon." "We had decades and decades of pub­lish­ing that was writ­ten with the as­sump­tion that there would be no more 'Star Wars' movies," said Hi­dalgo, who joined Beck and Wil­liams at a Dis­ney press day in Los An­ge­les this week.

"When it be­came ap­par­ent that we were go­ing to do 'Episode VII'-and the sto­ry­line that Ge­orge kicked off made it clear that 'Episode VII' did not re­sem­ble the galaxy de­scribed in the books-we said, 'Let's align all this stuff.'" From 2014, the Story Group was able to fur­nish cre­ative, from comic book writ­ers to theme park de­sign­ers, with a rich trove of back­ground ma­te­rial fact-check­ing di­a­logue, plot lines and the most ob­scure ephe­mera.

Beck, who worked on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween "Rebels" and "Rogue One" -- which shared the "Clone Wars" char­ac­ter Saw Ger­rera-said it was im­por­tant to make sure all th­ese prop­er­ties worked to­gether but could still be en­joyed in­de­pen­dently. "We think about how (char­ac­ters) en­ter into this nar­ra­tive in a way which feels hon­est to their story," she said.

'We see it all'

The sys­tem might seem un­wieldy and dic­ta­to­rial, but it is ap­pre­ci­ated by fans and film­mak­ers alike. The last thing you want in your "Star Wars" novel is Chew­bacca win­ning a tap danc­ing com­pe­ti­tion when a video game re­leased years ear­lier estab­lished that he has two left feet. "What we don't want to do is cre­ate some­thing that feel like it is an out­lier in a way that it doesn't feel like it fits within the larger uni­verse," said Wil­liams. "What we want is for peo­ple to feel en­gaged and that no mat­ter how var­ied that ex­pres­sion might be, all things are au­then­tic, valu­able." It's not just about nit-pick­ing ei­therS­tory Group mem­bers work with writ­ers and film­mak­ers to de­velop new ideas.

Some are turned down be­cause the tim­ing is wrong, they don't fit in or are just plain silly. Oth­ers such as "Rogue One"of­fered to the Story Group by In­dus­trial Light and Magic's spe­cial ef­fects guru John Knoll in his first-ever movie pitch are given the green light. "It's not like we tell them what story to tell, but we to­gether find the story that they are look­ing to tell," said Hi­dalgo. "And be­cause we are a con­nec­tion point for all that cre­ative ac­tiv­ity... we see it all, we com­mu­ni­cate it all and we make sure we're all in sync." — AFP

This file photo shows a gen­eral view of the at­mos­phere dur­ing The World Pre­miere of Lu­cas­film's "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, In Hol­ly­wood, Cal­i­for­nia. — AFP pho­tos

This file photo shows fans dressed up as Star Wars char­ac­ters as they pose ahead of the Euro­pean Pre­miere of "Star Wars The Force Awak­ens" in cen­tral Lon­don.

This file photo shows a Star Wars ban­ner hang­ing at the Dolby Theatre as prepa­ra­tions are made for the pre­miere of Walt Dis­ney Pic­tures And Lu­cas­film's "Star Wars: The Force Awak­ens" in the Hol­ly­wood sec­tion of Los An­ge­les, Cal­i­for­nia.

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