GeekDad to Visit Skywalker Ranch

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Skywalker Ranch in Marin, CA, where magic is made.
Skywalker Ranch in Marin, CA, where magic is made.

I have been invited to represent GeekDad on a press junket to meet the makers of some upcoming films from two branches of the Disney family of studios.

On Monday, January 12, I and another couple dozen bloggers will pay a visit to Pixar for a reception and presentation about Inside Out, which opens June 19. I’ll also get to see the accompanying short film, Lava, for a second time. On Tuesday we’ll drop by the legendary Skywalker Ranch, George Lucas’ magic factory where Han Solo and Howard the Duck haunt the halls. While I’m there, I’ll be staying at the super-swanky Acqua Hotel in Marin. I’m going there to see a new Lucasfilm/Touchstone production, Strange Magic, which opens on January 23.

Strange Magic, a new animated film from Lucasfilm Ltd., is a musical fairy tale (literally; most of the cast is fairies) inspired (apparently very loosely inspired) by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion. The film stars Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph, Sam Palladio, Meredith Anne Bull, Alfred Molina, Elijah Kelley, and Bob Einstein (AKA “Super Dave Osborne”). Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and Industrial Light & Magic bring to life the fanciful forest turned upside down with world-class animation and visual effects. Directed by Gary Rydstrom (Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation, Lifted) from a story by George Lucas, Marius de Vries (Moulin Rouge) serves as both the musical director and composer.

Pixar’s Inside Out takes place inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley as she tries to cope with the twin pressures of moving to a new city and growing up. In June, I was given a sneak peek at some scenes from the film. The stars of the story are Riley’s emotions; Joy (Amy Pohler), Anger (Louis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). When Joy and Sadness accidentally find themselves far from “Headquarters” and have to make their way back through the other parts of Riley’s mind (Imagination Land, the Abstract Thought region, the Long-Term Memory Towers, past the Train of Thought), they have to come to terms with each other and learn to work together. Meanwhile, Fear, Anger and Disgust try to cover for the missing emotions, which doesn’t go well.

We’ve also been promised a screening of the short film Lava, which will accompany Inside Out in the theaters. I previously saw it at the preview in June, and it’s wonderful. Set to an original song by director James Ford Murphy, Lava is a musical love story that takes place over millions of years, following the romance between two volcanoes named Uku and Lele, voiced by two stars of traditional Hawaiian music, Kuana Torres Kahele and Napua Greig. Here’s a little preview:

I will have several follow-up articles about the things we’ll be seeing, but for more immediate news, you can follow the Hashtags #StrangeMagicEvent and #PixarInsideOut; most of the bloggers on the trip will be sharing news and pictures as they happen. I plan to post to the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts that are linked to the blog my wife and I run, Blue Collar, Black Tie. I’ll do my best to keep them updated with the amazing things I’ll be seeing and learning about.

If you have any questions you’d like me to ask the filmmakers of Strange MagicInside Out or Lava, post them in the comments section and I’ll do my best to get them answered for you.

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