Posted by Philip on September 4, 2010 at 11:38 AM CST
Out of everyone who covers the news and events for Rebelscum, my position certainly may be the most faceless. As the primary photographer of four Star Wars Celebrations (CIII, CIV, CJ, and CV), as well as all the Toy Fairs and San Diego Comic Cons for many years, I am always the one shooting the images you look at and very, very seldom the focal point of the images. This is a fact that I’m quite comfortable with since I have always looked at the work we do on Rebelscum to be beyond the individuals doing the work. What we do is for you, our readers, and for all the future Star Wars fans that at some point will go from playing with their Star Wars toys to collecting their Star Wars toys, and we do all we can to maintain the standards Philip Wise set in the mid 90’s when he first took his love of Star Wars online… creating a beacon of light for all of us lost in the Dark Times.

Even though it is crucial to understanding my personal motivation, the concept of the Dark Ages is lost on newer Star Wars fans but not so for the original Star Wars generation who for the years between 1985 and 1991 were left to live day by day in a world that didn’t fully appreciate Star Wars as the phenomenon it was. If not for the secret VHS viewings of the Original Trilogy in basements across the planet and the reminiscences and speculations about how Anakin and Obi-Wan went from good friends to sworn enemies, Star Wars would be lost. As much as it pains me to admit, it was Timothy Zahn’s EU books Heir To The Empire* that once more breathed life into the franchise we all love so much, even though personally speaking Jon Bradley Snyder’s incredible Reports From The Star Wars Generation magazine and Steve Sansweet’s illuminating From Concept To Screen To Collectible coffee table book had much more of an impact.

When we started seeing Star Wars toys on the store shelves in 1993 with Just Toys’ Bendems line and followed by Galoob’s 1994 Micro Machines and Hasbro’s 1995 The Power Of The Force action figure collection being a Star Wars fan was so exciting, and that being what it is, the old Wiseacres site was where we all went to see what was coming out, and this is something that long-time Star Wars fans should never forget, as it colours everything written below.

For me Celebration V was a second beacon of light. A reminder of how much Star Wars has impacted the world, and in comparison to the previous four U.S. based Celebration events, CV was the first time I truly felt that it was about our communal and mutual love of Star Wars, and to that we should all be thanking Lucasfilm for doing it up right.

Stepping away from how well organized CV was, the best part was being able to hang out with old friends again. While Chris Holoka and I have always been able to find time to hang out at the eleven events we’ve both been at together, and Dan Curto and I have shared rooms for no less than twelve events that we’ve covered together for Rebelscum and Cool Toy Review since 2005, I have always felt that I haven’t had enough time getting to know my other teammates as well as I would like, and CV gave me some much needed time to get to know people better. For the first time since he joined the Rebelscum team, I was able to spend some one-on-one time with Jay Shepard when we went to the Last Ride To Endor event at Disney World together. We met up with Jad Bean (who I’m sure I met briefly with years earlier, but not officially), who you may remember as the winner of our “become a 12” action figure” anniversary contest some years back. While I still grasp at the hopes that Sideshow will eventually release a D Martin Myatt Hoth Rebel Soldier figure, our boy Jad has lived the dream and survived unscathed. (lucky bastard). All three of us had a blast! I was able to spend more time hanging out with Grahame from the Scummer team as well as Jason and Jimmy from the ForceCast (which I’m a huge fan of and think everyone should tune in on, as their show truly encapsulates what Living Star Wars is all about), and even got to hang with Dustin in some more colorful places. That man never ceases to amaze me.

I’m stoked to have met the current roster of TheForce.Net as well, and will always have fond memories of the fine team Dustin has assembled there. Mike, Mandy, and Eric are great people to hang with and geek out with about Star Wars. Breaking it down, Mandy was able to fill a hole we didn’t even know we had in our Celebration coverage, Eric reminded me so much of how passionate I was for Star Wars at his age, (making me a bit envious at the fact that as a 19 year old, “Mr. S. Geller” could walk around freely with his love of Star Wars on his sleeve, while being a member of the original Star Wars Generation I was stuck in a closet at the same age) and Mike was able to do what no Star Wars fan has ever been able to by putting the EU into a perspective I could appreciate and respect. Hats off to the three of you.

While I am glad I was able to hang with old and new friends, I regret not having more time with other friends at CV such as Philip and Chris Wyman, who were both very busy with Official Pix; my old, old friend Shane who was elbow deep in the Tattoo Pavilion; Steve and Mary who were neck deep in CV; and Bonnie who I didn’t even see for a second two shows in a row! That said, I’m glad that I did get some time to visit with Tom, Terri, Cat, Amanda, Jordan, Randy, Nicole, Amy, Chris S, Frank, Stan, and a small handful of other friends (you know who you are).

One truly significant thing happened on in the early Friday morning before the show opened that warrants mention. Chris Holoka and I were walking around, as we often do at shows when we have a spare moment, and noticed a crowd. Between you and I, we knew why there was a crowd, but we were sworn to secrecy. We stopped dead in our tracks as we saw George Lucas, along with two of his kids and his girlfriend and a small Lucasfilm entourage pass by us. Even though I had my camera on me, and was ready to shoot anything I thought you would like to see on Rebelscum, I found myself reluctant to snap pictures of Lucas and his family. To me it felt like an invasion of privacy and more paparazzi than journalistic.

Considering how much of my adult life I have spent on film sets, and how I felt about people snapping pictures of moments on set for outrageous payments and seeing the equipment they could buy for doing this because of the money they get for snapping these moments, and at certain points –such as the ‘nude’ photos shot at British Colombia’s Bunson Lake of Megan Fox while we worked together on Jennifer’s Body (you don’t have to admit you’ve seen them but you know you have) and how their publication affected her in an extremely negatively as a human being- (Something no one thinks about, but celebrities are just people like us, and have the same feelings. I was with her when she found out and it devastated her) I knew that I wouldn’t be able to shoot one of the most important people to influence my life in such a private moment of his.

At the same time, as a photographer who has dedicated a almost a third of my life to providing you with images and information about Star Wars, I really truly wanted to snap away like a madman.

Thankfully, Steve Sansweet, a man I’m proud to consider a personal friend for almost a decade, saw Chris and me gawking at the sight in front of us and asked me if I would be interested in serving as Lucasfilm’s photographer for this very special private moment. Needless to say, I accepted and after a brief introduction to the LFL publicity people in the entourage, I was given a photographic carte blanche to snap this special event. There is no feeling better than having security and crowd control people getting out of your way voluntarily to snap pictures!

At the end of it all, I had agreed to hand over all the images I personally deemed worthy to LFL with a few caveats, including the undisputed use of the image thumbnailed above, which to me had more to say about the man than the more intimate shots about Lucas’ absolute appreciation for Star Wars fans. While in the R2 Builders’ room, Lucas was like a kid in a candy store marveling at the work some Star Wars fans have put into their Droids, and how they were able to work out functionality issues that the original prop builders couldn’t figure out. The above image was more than me standing three feet away from the man responsible for what we love, it was about George Lucas being amazed at what we, the Star Wars Generation, could create and to that all I can do is tip my hat to all of you.

At the end of the day (or week as it were), Celebration V was a fine example of what Living Star Wars should be every day.

*For the record, I think Zahn is a skilled writer, I just don’t think he fully appreciated what he was writing about when he did his Heir To The Empire books. Next time I meet him, I’ll make a point of discussing this topic with him… Force-repelling tree snakes indeed.
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