Thursday the 10th of December 2015 would mark a significant day in the lives of many Australian Star Wars fans. Not only would it be exactly one week prior to the release of the newest film in the Star Wars saga, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But Sydney would play host to the only exclusive fan event in Australia prior to the flim’s release that would feature a Q&A with star Harrison Ford, the man who plays the original space cowboy Han Solo.
The Sydney Opera House forecourt would be the venue to host the Star Wars Fan Event, and at 4pm the gates opened allowing the enormous queue to slowly pass through into the area. The large main stage and the T shaped red carpet was almost immediately lined with fans eager to try and secure a good spot for a chance to meet Harrison Ford as he walked the carpet. Not only would Ford be doing a Q&A but there would also be a Q&A from the Sphero team that built BB-8 the new robot droid character that will feature in the new film. Host Jay Laga’aia would also host a Star Wars trivia session, picking out half a dozen fans to test their knowledge of The Force. As well as all of this up on the main stage there was plenty more going on at the Fan Event so we take a look at the best things that happened at the Star Wars Fan Event.
1. Harrison Ford!
The original scruffy nerfherder himself entered the red carpet and after chatting with a few media outlets he then makes his way along the T shaped red carpet to meet and sign autographs and snap a few selfies with fans. For many this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and Ford was incredibly accommodating signing a lot of autographs before having to hop onstage for his Q&A with host Jay Laga’aia.
During the Q&A he was careful to not reveal anything specific about the film, or things we didn’t know already. Saying that he was surprised to be making another Star Wars film and had not anticipated to be making one 30 years later. That Star Wars is a universal story that transcends borders and nationalities and that Han Solo initially was skeptical about The Force but that now 30 years later Solo has come to learn something more about the nature of it.
Ford said it was good to bring the old band back together and see Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher and that it was always a pleasure working with them. He also explained how for him the Star Wars films are a story about growing up, independence, responsibility, loyalty, doing the right thing and that it’s a hero’s journey and a satisfying movie experience. Ford believes that the reason why the films have been such a continued success is that they are family films that have been passed on from fathers and mothers to their children, and then their children’s children and that we’re now coming into a third generation of filmgoers who have been introduced to them.
Ford also exclusively revealed that Blade Runner 2 will be the next thing on his schedule,that a script, cast and director are all locked in and they’ll begin that next year, which got a large part of the crowd cheering. To wrap things up Ford provided insight into what drives him to select certain scripts, saying that he felt he was an “assistant storyteller” and that the script needs to serve and excite an audience because there’s no story without an audience and he works for the audience. In closing he said that the new Star Wars film is “a really good ride with substantial emotional exercise” so if that’s anything to go by we’re in for lots of action with plenty of drama to boot.
We all know and love that little astro-droid R2-D2, he’s been in all 6 of the movies thus far and will feature in the new one too. But George Lucas and JJ Abrams decide it was time for a new little droid to get into the spotlight, and that guy is BB-8. From the very first teaser trailer BB-8 made an appearance and the response was tentative but the preceding trailers since have since warmed us up to this new little robot.
To add to that the company that engineered and built him – Sphero – have also built little mini BB-8 robot toys that you can buy yourself. Paul Berberian the CEO of Sphero gave us all a run down about the creation of BB-8 and brought out a life size version of BB-8 for us to see. If you didn’t want one of those mini BB-8’s toys before, you certainly would want one now. As well as having a life size BB-8 they also had a hologram BB-8 that you could interact with. You could hop into a booth and film your very own holographic video message that BB-8 would then play back to you. A bit like that first scene of Princess Leia and R2-D2 from A New Hope.
Image credit: Andrew Scott
3. Google Virtual Reality Cardboard Viewers
Paul Berberian also gave us some insight into the use of virtual reality in the film and to tie in with his discussion they were giving away the exclusive Google cardboard goggles that came in four different covers – R2-D2, BB-8, Stormtrooper and Kylo Ren. To view exclusive content that ties in with the film all you need to do is download the “Star Wars Disney” App from the Google Play store and view it using your Cardboard. There will be new content loaded up daily in the lead up to the release of The Force Awakens, if you want to order your own Cardboard, you can go here.
Nothing quite brings out the cosplayers like a pop culture fuelled event, and this was no different. Albeit not quite as on the scale as say attending a pop culture convention, the arrival of Harrison Ford allowed the Star Wars fan community to don some of its best outfits. We saw a bunch of Han Solo’s and Indiana Jones (paying tribute to the man of the hour) but there was also some Darth Vader’s, a Kylo Ren, a Rey, the odd Princess Leia with the bun hairdo, a few Jedi and also a family of Han and Leia a la Return of the Jedi camouflage gear with their young baby dressed as an Ewok.
Seeing people dressed up as some of their favourite characters is always such a blast and the television media were clamouring to interview a lot of them for their vox pops segments. Pictured above are left to right – Andrew Scott, Sarah Cooper, Zac Mennen and Rod Fletcher
Image credit: Wendy Cyr
5. Star Wars: Battlefront from DICE
Thanks to EA Games and DICE they had a set-up where you could play the brand new Star Wars: Battlefront game. Gaming has come so far in the last few years and visually they are just as much on a par with what we see in film and television. For those who may have been unsure about whether or not they wanted to purchase the game they could roadtest the Playstation 4 version at the fan event. We also reviewed the game a couple of weeks back and by the looks of it, it’s definitely a worthy purchase for any Star Wars fans who want to feel like they’re a part of that Universe.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out at 12:01am on Thursday, December 17th.