Last week, Bad Robot tweeted a photo of Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, Episode VII director J.J. Abrams, and two unfamiliar men standing with a fan-favorite character: Artoo Detoo. Fans wondered if an official announcement of the droid’s appearance in the film would soon follow.
Lucasfilm didn’t make us wait long. Today Dan Brooks at the Star Wars Blog shared the story of how Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples, members of the UK branch of the R2-D2 Builders Club, were hired to work on Episode VII’s astromechs. (Apparently their official assignment is the Creature Effects department, which makes me wonder what Threepio would think of the droids being lumped in the “creature” category…) Previously Kathy and J.J. have mentioned their goal of using more practical sets and less CGI in Episode VII, and relying on an actual robotic Artoo to portray the beloved droid is a wonderful step in that direction. Be sure to click over and read the entire post, because it’s a great read and full of fan enthusiasm all around.
I’m also delighted to see Lucasfilm bringing fans directly into the process of creating the film. On the first episode of the Fangirls Going Rogue podcast, Teresa and I talked about the importance of fan engagement to the success of the Star Wars franchise. Other franchises have been actively engaging their fans recently, too, from Lionsgate giving their most active fan an exclusive reveal of Catching Fire promotional art to panels at New York Comic Con noting that Once Upon a Time‘s writers bring fan art into the writer’s room for inspiration and The Legend of Korra producers hiring fan artists on to the show’s creative staff. Hopefully the involvement of the R2-D2 Builders is just the first step in Lucasfilm’s engagement with Star Wars fans as Episode VII moves into production.
Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and strong female characters. She also writes about Star Wars for Random House’s science fiction and fantasy blog Suvudu.com and Star Wars Insider magazine and is a contributor for Her Universe’s Year of the Fangirl. Her FANgirl opinions can be heard on the podcasts Assembly of Geeks and RebelForce Radio Presents Fangirls Going Rogue.
Tricia is putting the finishing touches on her first novel, Wynde – a military science fiction with a fantastical twist that features heroines Vespa and Gemini. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.