It’s been eight days since Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 ceased to fulfill my every waking moment, and the post-celebration blues have officially set in hardcore. Probably a little more for me because it was my first Celebration, and even though it was pretty exhausting and at times quite frustrating, it was absolutely great being around so many other passionate Star Wars fans like myself. Going in, my priorities were to meet as many podcasters and other bloggers as I could and make some new friends. That quickly changed once I saw all the cool panels that filled the schedule on all four days.

After waiting in line for 5 hours possibly more, the 40th Anniversary panel started –and boy it didn’t disappoint. In the weeks prior to Celebration, hosts of The Star Wars Show, Andi Gutierrez and Anthony Carboni continuously stressed that “you do NOT want to miss this panel!” After paying homage to the directors she’s had the pleasure to work with past and present, the cast and crew, and the fans, Kathleen Kennedy began to talk about George Lucas and his “collective genius”.  The mere mention of the creators name brought a resounding cheer from the crowd. But to be in the crowd, even on the streaming stage (where I was), when Kathleen Kennedy began to introduce her Yoda, George Lucas was electrifying. The crowd erupted in a roar I don’t think I’ll soon forget. From a fans perspective, it was really great hearing so much love and appreciation on display for George after years of name calling from the behind the internet curtain. George seemed to be in really good spirits as well—the banter between him and Warwick Davis was fun to watch. I specifically enjoyed the moment when Dave Filoni was announced to join George on stage. After playfully asking Dave who he was, George pats Dave on the pack and affectionately regards him as one of his kids.

It’s just fascinating to see two great story tellers talk about their relationship with each other; how one mentored the other—like two Greek poets. As Dave tells the story of a lesson he learned from George of don’t be afraid; not to make any decision out of fear, one can see two sides of the same coin. George, who is not one to talk much, and Dave, who loves to talk, and frankly I love to listen, and judging by the way George looks at Dave, he feels the same way.

Round two of George, This is Your Life, continues with Hayden Christensen and Ian McDiarmid. It’s so satisfying to see a prequel actor return to Celebration and get a warm welcome from the fans. Absolutely one of my favorite moments of the panel. Round three saw Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, and Peter Mayhew, followed shortly by Mark Hamill.

Enter: Harrison Ford. I’ll skip past the incredible ovation he received, the only one to rival George’s. Was I the only to get teary eyed when Harrison walked over and hugged Peter? Like two old army buddies reuniting after years apart. The panel seemed to only get increasingly emotional with tributes to Carrie Fisher for the duration, speeches from George and Kathleen remembering Carrie, the introduction of Carrie’s daughter Billie Lourd. Seriously, her rendition of the “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi” dialogue was insane. How did she keep it together that entire time? She’s as strong as her mother was.

What better way to cap off this emotional roller coaster of a panel but with the “greatest conductor in the universe” John Williams. When the lights went dark and the curtain rose, one can barely make out an orchestra, and there he is—the maestro himself quieting the crowd with a single hand gesture. From the first note of the flute, not a dry eye in the house was present. It was a great way to start a Celebration and it continued the next day.

The Last Jedi panel on Friday was fine if not a little short. Yes we got the teaser, the beautiful poster, and we got introduced to Kelly Marie Tran and her character Rose the maintenance technician, but there wasn’t much more than that. I was really looking forward to seeing Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro but such is life.

As an aspiring writer and having a love for learning new things, I had to attend as many events at Star Wars University as I could. Why not? It’s a great opportunity to hear some of the best Star Wars authors give writing advice. I was lucky enough to see Chuck Wendig, Christie Golden, and John Jackson Miller. Mr. Wendig spoke about creating new characters and how to develop their inner struggles and how to use that towards their motivations in the story. Christie spoke about how to do some of the stuff writers like to avoid like starting outlines. She also shared a list of books she recommended.

John Jackson Miller held a class on what is involved in the process of writing for comic books. John highlighted a few examples of his Knight Errant series he wrote for Dark Horse comics. All of these classes were extremely interesting and informative; I wish I could’ve attended more. I also sat in on a LGBTQ panel and a panel called Women in a Galaxy Far, Far Away that discussed more diversity and proper representation in the Star Wars galaxy. I never felt more out of my element, but that is the point isn’t it?

Overall, despite the lines I had a great experience at SWCO and I can’t wait for the next one…wherever that may be.

@EricOnkenhout

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Tags: John Williams , George Lucas , Star Wars , Billie Lourd , Celebration Orlando