Ask the Guy who worked at Skywalker Ranch

With the recent news of Disney’s purchase of my former employer, it seemed to be a good time to come out of the woodwork as someone who was working for Lucasfilm for most of the time I’ve been a Doper (though it’s been over a year since I cashed a paycheck or made my commute up to the Ranch).

Now, I left there on good terms and I want to respect my NDA. Also, like any job, it had its ups & downs, but there’s no denying that I have quite a few memories that will last a lifetime. So, while I’m happy to answer (with discretion) some personal questions about my time there, for the purpose of this thread, let’s concentrate more on things you are curious about the day-to-day proceedings, traditions, and culture of life under George.

I don’t post here nearly as often as I used to, but will try to respond to this thread regularly. Anyone?

is everyone afraid to tell George Lucas his ideas are bad

Where you there when Kevin Smith got married ?


I’m assuming most of the work was contract work for other studios / productions. That being the case, how present or hands-on was Mr. Lucas in the day to day work? If it wasn’t one of his creative works, was he mostly the boss down the hall? Or is his style to poke into everyone’s output?

Start with the biggest downs you can talk about.

Did you ever work with Lucas directly? What “big names” did you work with?

What are you prevented from disclosing? Like, personal information? Inside info about the movie production industry? What kind of work did you do? Like security detail, or movie production stuff, or what?

How would you say the change in ownership is likely to affect business-as-usual inside the perimeter? I figure all bets are off if Disney carts it all off to southern California, lock, stock and intellectual property, but if they do leave everything there at the Ranch, do you have any idea how things might be different?

This falls in the realm of hearsay and (informed) speculation, so I’m not going to touch his psychology or creative process at all.

IMDB says he was married in 1999. I started sometime between Eps I & II, so the answer would be no.

Incorrect assumption. While some of the companies under the Lucas umbrella (ILM, Sky Sound, etc.) did contract work for other films and studios, I was employed by the Lucasfilm studio itself for the duration of my stay there.

GWL (as he was referred to internally) had a fairly small circle of people with whom he interacted regularly, and any directives that came from that circle would trickle down to the assorted staffs from there. Editorial, pre-visualization and concept art, and high-level VFX meetings were his usual stomping grounds–and because he did direct the 3 prequels, this meant time away, shooting on location, including Australia, where the primary soundstages were.

But any look at Behind-the-Scenes footage from those films demonstrate how attention-to-detail matters to him a great deal and that he can be very hands-on in his style. This was true of the grounds of Skywalker, too. No decision about decor, landscaping, signage, or other projects with a visual impact on the property was made without his say so.

I think the most obvious one was that, IMHO, the prequels were, by even the most generous standard, absolutely terrible films. My usual answer when asked what I thought of them was something like “A lot of people like them a lot” or “You really do see it all on the screen, don’t you?” While they certainly made a lot of money, and while there were people in the company who did like them, I was not the only one who found it a bit demoralizing that so much collective talent and resources were used for something so bad.

Keep in mind this was also when the three LOTR films came out (I was even in the same theater as GWL when they screened “The Two Towers” onsite), so the excuse that “effects-heavy” or “genre” films don’t get critical cred was no longer a valid one. People were obviously proud of the individual craftsmanship involved in their contribution, but the sum of the parts was often seen as less than the creative whole.

I’m not going to state that this was an overwhelming or pervasive feeling in the company, but it was not an uncommon one. And since LFL didn’t have a large variety of films on its production slate over the course of those years, it was sometimes tough to have years go by between films, only to face a financially lucrative but tepid critical reaction.

Just my $0.02.

What was your job description?

Never worked with him (see previous response), but our paths crossed at work a few times. For many employees, the only time they’d see him was at the annual Xmas party of 4th of July picnic so that alone was unusual.

The big names I interacted with were technical or craftspeople: Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, Matthew Wood, etc. Not household names, but all very familiar in Oscar’s annals and well-respected in the community. But this was certainly not everyday, either. Projects often have long arcs so those kinds of encounters really would vary.

Formally, things like projects in production, none of which probably apply much anymore (though the live action SW TV series lone in development, might).

But my sense of propriety would include things like inner politics or company “secrets”. Specific security procedures, addresses, or disclosing of other details that you can find easily enough on the web but which the company still prefers to keep private.

I worked directly with production a lot, but also did a number of projects with marketing, licensing, and publishing. My job not only involved new productions but revisiting older films, too–not to “revamp” them (as he often does) but to evaluate what kind of commercial possibilities they had for new platforms and avenues of distribution.

Answered as much as I feel comfortable (though it often involved working on enterprises outside of what was written in my employment contract).

Is Willow coming out in BluRay?

Has your image ever been used in a movie?

I dont know if you have seen the movie fanboys, but i am wondering if the G’s office and the security guards dressing up in thx1138 regalia was factual or simply way out parody.


in other words, yes