First, I have to say a huge, huge thank you to fellow fangirl and Brigader Patty Hammond. This wonderful, generous human being bought me my three day pass, without which I WOULD NOT HAVE GONE TO THE CELEBRATION! I'm not kidding. Even though it was pretty much a one off for the UK, I couldn't justify the cost. To have it happening so close (I live a 40 minute train journey from London) and not go would have been torture. But Patty and her husband chose to give me one of the greatest gifts I've ever received, and I don't think I can ever fully express my gratitude. Thanks to them I was also able to take my Star Wars mad 11yo, and then last minute scrape the cash together to take my eldest who suddenly decided she'd like to go.
I have to admit, it didn't get off to a great start. I'd already decided the costs for a Mark Hamill photo opp and/or autograph were way out of my budget. Then I heard from Patty that people were already queuing up overnight to get the limited wristbands for the Mark Hamill panel. I figured even if I went up really early (I mean REALLY early) I had zero chance of getting into the panel. However, with thanks to hubs for his research, I decided to get an early morning train Friday to beat the normal rush hour crowds and give me at least a shot at a wristband.
Things did not go well. First up, I had to get up at 3:45 am. Ugh. I hadn't slept well anyway - too excited, too nervous, too terrified of forgetting anything. I was driving out to an unfamiliar train station away from my home town in order to cut down the extortionate price of the rail ticket. I found the station fine, but the damn car park eluded me. After driving around several times, it turned out the car park didn't even open until 5:30. I finally parked elsewhere for slightly more and further away, by which time I'd missed two trains.
For anyone interested, Mark Hamill is a genuinely funny and nice guy. It was like we'd all got together for a chat over coffee: an hour of him just talking and answering some questions with no host (even if he told us his youngest refers to his jokes as dad humour). He told us how one of the most fun things he got to do in Star Wars was the scene where he swung across the Death Star with Leia, but that he was disappointed when they got it on one take. So the crew responsible for the harnessing (and who had worked on Peter Pan) asked him if he wanted to fly around a bit. He did with much grumbling from Lucas. Someone tried to trick him into revealing Rey's second name and so her parents. He told us about visiting the set for Rogue One and that he thinks it looks great, and how much he loves what he does. He also did a chilling quote from Killing Joke as the Joker (shivers). How they had to refilm the scene where he rescues the princess from the cell because they changed his name from Starkiller to Skywalker (and he said the name change sucked because he thought Skywalker sounded like Flyswatter). He said he couldn't tell us anything about episode 8 and told a story about how he'd said something along the lines of 7 wouldn't be what people expected, which the media twisted into a headline about Mark Hamill says fans will be disappointed, over which he got jumped on by the film producers so he didn't dare even hint for this one. As he said on the panel. you'll never make everyone completely happy. No one will ever say oh, that was perfect for me (something I need to remember as an author). But the whole thing was live streamed and you can see/hear it all for yourself here:
And that's all I'm telling you...
There's a bunch of videos taken at the panel posted here: https://www.youtube.com/results?q=rogue+one+panel+star+wars+celebration+europe&sp=SBTqAwA%253D
but none of them show the whole thing.
Gareth Edwards also told us that George came on set during filming and was really critical to the point he just wanted to die (Edwards' enthusiasm for the whole Star Wars universe came across very clearly during the panel which was awesome (and reassuring) to see), but it turned out Lucas was joking. Which makes me wonder if all those newspaper reports about Lucas hating The Force Awakens was just journalists not getting his humour.
And a personal bonus: Gwendoline tweeted the selfie she took on stage with the cast, and liked my tweet when I told her she was awesome (yeah, I'm totally gonna fangirl over that! Captain Phasma liked my tweet!!) -
The next day...
Saturday was cosplay day for me and 11yo and, I'm sorry, but I do not have a single picture of me in my Jedi outfit. Ooops! I do have a slightly blurry one of me and Patty finally meeting up. Yay!
|Fangirls and Brigaders united!|
|Even First Order Generals take a lunch break|
|Not Starkiller Base, but close enough!|
Most of my photos of costumes and props will be posted over at my Tumblr blog sometime this week, and probably in batches. For anyone interested in the Rogue One costumes I took as many photos as I can, but on day three I forgot the batteries for my decent camera and my not so decent one flipped out, deleting half the photos (plus my phone camera died.). Technology was not with me! And after queuing twice to get into the Rogue One costume arena, I'd had enough. So I mostly only have some not so great shots of Jyn Orsa's main outfit, and some of the signs detailing the character and outfit.
Saturday I didn't plan on any panels and the queues for things like the Virtual Reality booth and drone battles put 11yo off. He started looking stressed so we headed home fairly early. It's very hard to tell if 11yo has enjoyed something. He said he did, but I think while he loved the films, toys and games, the rest of it left him cold. He's not interested in the behind the scenes, the actors or the special effects, so I don't think it was what he expected. Oh well...
Day three. I'd taken up my best camera on day two but not dragged 11yo into the Rogue One arena to take photos. I left early with eldest...and forgot my damn camera batteries. I was stuck with the rubbish camera and my phone...which the camera then died on. The naff phone deleted half my photos after we left Rogue One. Bummer. Anyway, we'd set off early - sans cosplay because eldest's Rey outfit isn't finished - in the hope of getting wristbands to the Carrie Fisher panel. Again, we missed the earlier train. As we reached the first underground station, I saw Celebration tweet that all the wristbands had gone. Boo. However, we got chatting with other fans on the tube, the station played the Imperial March as we boarded, and excitement was high. And this is where I saw the difference. While 11yo loves the films, eldest is the one who loves the whole concept and camaraderie of fandom. She gets it! She was so excited at all the cosplay, especially the younger ones. She was excited about seeing the costumes, and when she got to hold a movie accurate replica Rey staff, I think I had her totally sold. She wants to go to more conventions!
|Vader's death mask|
|Kylo Ren's lightsaber|
While we didn't get in to see Carrie Fisher's panel, we watched most of it live stream as we sat beneath a life sized TIE fighter and ate our lunch.
|Warwick Davis on the live stage screen interviewing Carrie Fisher. My photo of her has vanished. :(|
Day three was also the day to shop. Most things were reduced (although obviously not the highly desirable things like the replica Kylo lightsaber at over £200, or that staff she's holding at over £1000, eep!). But eldest picked up a huge print of her favourite character.
|Best shot I could get of John just with my camera|
|Last Celebration image as you leave ExCel|
|The aftermath at home - goodies awaiting new homes|
For more photos of the event, props and costumes, please visit my Tumblr blog here: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/pippajay
Keir is on sale for just 99cents/pence/Euros until the end of July and as part of a huge scifi romance sale going on right now! Go to http://smschmitz.com/promo and fill up your ereader!
@pippajaygreen or like my Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Pippa-Jay-Adventures-in-Scifi-114058821953752/?ref=bookmarks
Oh, and one last shot of my girls who are enjoying the garden with me this morning as I write this post.
I hope to have some exciting news for you when I'm back in September. May the Force be with you!