Star Wars: Episode VIII Begins Filming

It’s official!! Director Rian Johnson (best known for Brick and Looper) has started rolling cameras on Star Wars: Episode VIII, according to Disney CEO Bob Iger.

Iger provided updates on the studio’s ever-expanding Star Wars universe during The Walt Disney Co.’s quarterly earnings call, touting the gargantuan financial success of the The Force Awakens. It is only the third film in history to collect more than $2 billion at the global box office, and the only domestic release to collect more than $900 million. In addition, he said it earned more than $3 billion globally in consumer products.

Iger said the company had a simple strategy for the future of Star Wars: don’t lose sight of what sold all those tickets and merchandise.

“There is no better way to propel this franchise into the future than producing quality products,” he said. “Filming of Star Wars: Episode VIII, the next chapter of the legendary saga, has just commenced and it will be in theaters December 2017. And production of Episode IX, a 2019 release, has also begun.”

A rumour that has been doing the Geek Rounds relating to filming is that a mysterious film production company named Space Bear Industries, which is widely believed to have been set up as a working title name for filming of the next Star Wars: Episode VIII film.

Space Bear Industries have also announced filming dates in the southern Croatian city of Dubrovnik next month, filming will take place from the 11th -16th of March 2016 and locations include the city’s famous stone walls, the main street that runs through the old town called Stradun, Banj beach and one of the city’s castles.

Daisy Ridley also got in on the Episode VIII act this week as well with this post on Instagram showing some flowers with a VIII tag at the bottom.

But what’s more interesting if you look closer, the flowers are from Kathleen Kennedy with a parts of note saying “Dear Daisy, As we begin this tremendous…appreciation of your d… Kathleen”

Even her latest post on Instagram taken by someone sounding remarkably like John Boyega showing her training at what looks like the backlot of Pinewood.

Going back to Bob Iger’s Disney Co.’s earnings report (which you can listen to his web-cast here) he said that production has also begun on  Star Wars: Episode IX which is directed by Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World and Safety Not Guaranteed).

“Filming of Rogue One is virtually completed and we absolutely love what we’ve seen so far,” he said, of the heist story about Rebel plans to steal the blueprints for the original Death Star. “This is the first of a set of planned stand-alone stories and we’re already in preproduction on our next one, for release in May of 2018.” That one will be the “young Han Solo” movie, which The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are making, based on a script by Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon Kasdan.

Finally, Iger confirmed that the company planned to break ground later this year on new Star Wars Land attraction at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

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NASA’s Space Tourism Posters

“Imagination is our window into the future. As you mark the passing of this year with these imaginative destinations, remember that you are the architects of the future. What we make and do will have a profound significance for generations to come. The impact of your efforts go beyond 2020, or even 2050. They will be felt for centuries to come. Be bold in your vision of what tomorrow can be, advance the edge of possibility, and let’s work together to make it come true.”

–  NASA JPL Director Charles Elachi

Visual strategists Joby Harris at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, asked Seattle design firm Invisible Creature if they were interested in creating ‘travel posters’ for NASA last autumn, it was a bit of a dream come true job for Don Clark, who started Invisible Creature with his brother Ryan Clark in 2006. “We, of course, were ecstatic, just because our grandfather was an illustrator at NASA for 30 years, and so this is kind of our first NASA project.” The 3 commissioned pieces are part of JPL’s Visions Of The Future 2016 Calendar – an internal gift to JPL and NASA staff, as well as scientists, engineers, government and university staff. The artwork for each month will also be released as a free downloadable poster at the NASA JPL site soon, but all 3 three by Invisible Creature are shown below and are available to purchase from here.

The Grand Tour: NASA’s Voyager mission took advantage of a once-every-175-year alignment of the outer planets for a grand tour of the solar system. The twin spacecraft revealed stunning details about Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune – using each planet’s gravity to send them on to the next destination. Voyager set the stage for such ambitious orbiter missions as Galileo to Jupiter and Cassini to Saturn. Today both Voyager spacecraft continue to return valuable science from the far reaches of our solar system.

Mars: NASA’s Mars Exploration Program seeks to understand whether Mars was, is, or can be a habitable world. Missions like Mars Pathfinder, Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars Science Laboratory and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, among many others, have provided important information in understanding of the habitability of Mars. This poster imagines a future day when we have achieved our vision of human exploration of Mars and takes a nostalgic look back at the great imagined milestones of Mars exploration that will someday be celebrated as “historic sites.”

Enceladus: The discovery of Enceladus’ icy jets and their role in creating Saturn’s E-ring is one of the top findings of the Cassini mission to Saturn. Further Cassini mission discoveries revealed strong evidence of a global ocean and the first signs of potential hydrothermal activity beyond Earth – making this tiny Saturnian moon one of the leading locations in the search for possible life beyond Earth.

Epic Nostalgia

Confessions of a repeat Star Wars: The Force Awakens Viewer

So Star Wars: The Force Awakens has just passed $2Billion in sales, making it only the third film to surpass this figure, and even my own daughter is now into double figures in viewing the movie,  so why are people so drawn to watch Star War films over and over again? BBC Writer Helen Macdonald – who’s also seen The Force Awakens six times so far – has just offered her explanation on this subject via the BBC Website.

It was Christmas 1977 and I was seven years old. Dad had got the family tickets to a screening of Star Wars at the Odeon in Leicester Square. I didn’t really know what I was going to see, but I knew it was a big deal. Star Wars mania was then in full swing. I remember light bulbs hanging from winter branches and a steakhouse with a tartan carpet, and the words STAR WARS on hoardings full of masked men and moons and spaceships. Dusk was falling as we queued to get in, and high above us flowed thousands of starlings. Back then they still roosted in central London. I was mesmerised by these sinuous strings of oily smoke moving through the darkening sky. And part of what Star Wars means to me now is still caught up in the memory of those flocks making patterns of astonishing beauty on their way to rest and safety. I loved the film, of course, though all the times I’ve seen it since have overwritten those first memories of it on screen. It was all a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away.

I was never an obsessive fan, but still I found the later George Lucas movies thoroughly dispiriting. I put that down to having grown up, and gave up on Star Wars. But then I went to see The Force Awakens, JJ Abram’s reboot of the series, late last December, and I wept pretty much all the way through it. Proper sobs. And then I saw it again. And again. Every time, I left the cinema full of joy. I saw it sitting next to kids wearing Princess Leia costumes, and men older than me wearing Star Wars t-shirts with frayed collars and Rebel Alliance badges, and it wasn’t until the sixth viewing that I thought, wait. Hang on. Six times. Why do you love this film so much? I kept reading articles explaining that people only liked the film out of a sense of simple nostalgia. There was something of a sneer about how they said it. That dismissiveness, I thought, was interesting.

Of course The Force Awakens is nostalgic. It features original cast members and plot points from the 1977 movie. But it is also utterly true to the aesthetic of those early films. It is a memory of a 1970s dream of the future, set in the distant past. And it’s superbly old-school. Today’s battle-space technologies put pilots in boxes to control distant drones. On screen, X-wing pilots harry Tie fighters in dogfights straight out of the Battle of Britain. Controls in The Force Awakens are buttons and switches, not touchscreens. There are no mobile phones, and none of the panoptic apparatus of the modern surveillance state. While part of its hold over me is indeed down to nostalgia, there is nothing simple about it, and it is far from something to sneer at.

We think of nostalgia, so often, in a negative way – as escapism, a refusal to face up to present realities. But it is not necessarily so. Nostalgia can bring insights and new understandings. Every time I’ve watched The Force Awakens I’ve felt like a child again, wide-eyed and full of wonder. But at the same time, I’ve also been a woman in her 40s, thinking very hard about the difference between me now and me then, the world now and the world then. Nostalgia shows you just how much the world has changed. And this is one of the reasons the film thrills me. It takes a familiar world from my childhood and fills it with things I wish had been there back then.

Look at the diversity of its main protagonists – British actor Daisy Ridley as Rey, the self-reliant desert loner with more power than she knows, who isn’t ever defined by or confined by her gender, British-Nigerian actor John Boyega as Finn, the stormtrooper whose moral defection from the First Order sets everything in motion, and Guatemalan-American actor Oscar Isaac as X-wing pilot Poe Dameron. One of the loveliest things I’ve recently seen on Twitter was a report of two boys under 12 on a bus arguing over who got to play Rey and who had to be the film’s male villain Kylo Ren. Got to. Had to be. The world we live in is different from that of 40 years ago. We can reject the old, tired stories we’ve been told about who we’re supposed to be. And that makes me very glad.

More and more, The Force Awakens seems to me a meditation on how we consume stories and how they shape us. We can identify with its new characters because they too see the events of the first Star Wars films as tales from long ago. I think of the scene where Rey speeds past the vast wreck of an imperial starcruiser buried deep in sand. Her character lives inside a collapsed Imperial AT-AT walker, keeps a homemade doll dressed as a Rebel pilot, has fashioned a mask out of stormtrooper helmet parts. These new characters are as alive to the archaeology of nostalgia as any of us.

But there is something else the nostalgia of this film feeds into which is very modern – internet fandom. Fan-created Force Awakens material is all over the web, and to me, this work – the cartoons, the art, the stories, the internet memes and carefully plotted transformative fan fictions – is as much a part of this film as anything Disney can create. For every Chewbacca pencil case or R2D2 mug there’s a Tumblr gif of Kylo Ren and General Hux sniping at each other or flirting. Fan fiction is a fascinating phenomenon – works, mostly on the internet, that tell new stories about existing characters. Though many feature slow-burn romances or steamy sex scenes, others detail the everyday minutiae of newly-imagined lives. Consumption and creation blur in this rich new ecosystem.

It’s no coincidence, perhaps, that what fan fiction writers do is analogous to what Rey does on her desert planet. Scavenging bits of old technology from crashed ships, she makes her life out of the literal wreckage of stories from the earlier films. Like her, fans salvage things that aren’t quite theirs – pictures, snatches of dialogue, glances, subtexts, repurposing them and making them work in new ways. Slash fiction, for example – stories about romantic attraction between male characters – have been a mainstay of fan fiction since its earliest days.

One internet site alone features thousands of stories about one particular pairing christened Stormpilot, spurred by a scene late in the film where hotshot resistance pilot Poe Dameron gives ex-stormtrooper Finn a smouldering stare before biting his own lip. So popular is this pairing that it’s spilled out from the internet and led to broadsheet articles and frenzied speculation that Disney could make one of the lead characters gay in this continuing series. I hope this happens. Billion-dollar film franchises haven’t given people gay heroes to identify with before. But if it’s too risky for Disney to countenance, those stories are being written anyway. This is about who gets to have a voice, who gets to speak, who gets to be represented. Most fan fiction writers are young, most are women, many identify as queer – voices generally erased from mainstream culture.

Just as people sneer at nostalgia, they sneer at fan fiction. It’s emotionally immature, they say. It’s not well written. It’s soppy. This criticism seems, at heart, to rest on an assumption that the people who write it aren’t the right sort of people to have any claim on these stories. This is criticism as boundary policing. It’s fine to make derivative works if you have sufficient cultural capital. The wonderful Dickensian on BBC One would be fan fiction in any other medium. There’s a depressing tendency to see people investing their energies in the lives of fictional characters as somehow sad. But I’m awed by the sheer creative exuberance of fanwork, the way it incorporates different lives, different viewpoints, different ways of living and loving and being into the constrained narratives of mainstream movies. The starlings that fly through my earliest memories of Star Wars remind me of just what its new fans are doing now – multitudes making beautiful and moving shapes and forms out of our human need to feel part of a community, to find our way home.

Source: A Point of View: Confessions of a repeat Star Wars viewer – BBC News

HAIL Drake

My favourite artist Craig Drake is truly in full swing for 2016 with his brand new poster celebrating the new film Hail, Caesar! The movie is the Coen Brothers’ love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood. Craig’s addition focuses on Scarlett Johansson’s starlet character, DeeAnna Moran, and it’s rendered with the striking lines and an exquisite  use of shadow, reminiscent of the ones evoked in many of the film noir movies of that Hollywood era.

Here’s a quick word from Craig himself:

“I was heavily inspired by George Lucas’ personal collection of golden age Hollywood movie posters which lined the walls of Lucasfilm’s SF headquarters. I’ve been wanting to work in 40’s & 50’s noir style for some time! Applying it to the Coen Brothers’  Hail Caesar! film was the most perfect fit. They are masters at immersing you in this era. Especially films like The Hudsucker Proxy, one of my all time favorites.”

The Print is available at the Hero Complex Gallery

ArT-ATtack

Craig Drake returns to his Star Wars roots with this classic piece of  mondo art of the AT-AT Walker from The Empire Strikes Back, which rumour has it will return with force in the new Rogue One ‘A Star Wars Story’ in December this year.

ArT-ATack

You can also purchase a few variants as well in Foil and Metal at the Hero Complex Gallery…click here