by Janne Helander

The following text was posted in the rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc discussion group on December 11, 2001, one week after I posted my original message in Swedish in the Episode II forum. Feel free to visit the forum if you wish to comment on my report.

One week ago, I attended a "STAR WARS: Episode II Licensee Meeting" here in Stockholm. Most of the Nordic STAR WARS licensees were present, and I was there representing my publisher, Egmont Serieförlaget (I'm the translator and letterer for the Swedish STAR WARS comic book).

During the meeting, we got to see many of the products which will be available next year … from Lego, Hasbro, LucasArts and others.
Fox also had a few people there who told us about their plans for the movie itself.

But best of all:
Paul Southern, Lucasfilm's Director of International Licensing and Marketing, was there and offered us quite a few tidbits.
(No, I won't go into details. You know … professional secrecy.)

It all began with a short "Making Of" movie with lots of clips from the set, including a few hilarious bloopers … like, for example, Natalie Portman dropping her blaster to the floor, smashing it to smithereens. Her reaction was quite interesting -- like, "Oops, George, don't get mad now".
We also got to see Jango Fett, prancing around with an umbrella, and George Lucas himself, wielding a lightsaber!
As I said, very funny stuff. No talking, though. Just a bunch of short clips to Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town"! :-D

Then we got to see what was basically a narrated rough cut of the movie, about 30 minutes long!!
I'd done my best to stay away from spoilers before this, but now I got to see the whole story (well, almost)! And it was … magnificent!
The movie began with the familiar blue text, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ….". Then, the yellow STAR WARS logo against the vast sea of stars, the music, and the complete roll-up, supposedly the way we will see it in the finished film … with one exception. The title hadn't been decided when this rough cut was made, so what we got to see was:


Episode II

The movie continued with an in-depth description of Episode II. A narrator gave us the story, illustrated by stills, storyboards, models, sketches and paintings. About two fifths of the movie were made up of these stills.
The rest was made up of moving pictures. *drool*
We got to see a number of elaborate action sequences. These scenes were not finished, they were mostly a combination of live action and animatics.
Some scenes were quite comical since they were filmed using stand-ins (instead of the real actors), who were moving around in some kind of "animatics world". It was kind of like one of those car scenes from a fifties movie … you know, when the background is totally out of synch.
Anyway, it still gave us a good glimpse of what the scenes will look like in the finished film.
We also got to see some of the scenes from the trailers in their entirety! And even though most of the visual effects weren't finished (they were often replaced by animatics, and you could see quite a few blue screens and lightsaber sticks), I'd say it looks like AOTC will kick some serious ass on May 16.
(And no, I won't confirm or deny any rumors regarding the plot, so don't bother asking.)

After this bombardment of delicacies, we got to see "Breathing", "Forbidden Love" and "Mystery" on the big (well, sort of) screen, and Paul told us a little bit about Lucasfilm's thoughts behind the design of these trailers.

Once the meeting was over, we each got to take home one teaser poster and a personal copy of both "Breathing" and "Forbidden Love" (though it said "True Love" on the videocassette).

So, hmmm… that's it, I guess.

Please don't hate me. :-)