I am an enthusiastic video gamer, which has been a fundamental part of my life since I was very young. I am passionate about new emerging games that push the innovation of technology within this space forward, but I still continue to play the classics like Everquest, yes the original. And at the core of all of it lies the heart of storytelling for me. A game doesn’t have to be fancy or even be in 3D, it just has to have a great story and reasonably fun gameplay. This is why I was so keen to help develop this story alongside my wife, Maria.
I met Maria in a video game — World of Warcraft — and I admired the relationship she had with her late husband, Luke, who was also co-leader of the guild in that we were in. We had remained good friends and even met in NYC, all three of us. When tragedy struck and Luke was killed, the guild really supported her, my included. After a while, I couldn’t help but fall for her. The way she carried through all that had happened to her — from being born with Cystic Fibrosis, which is a horrible illness, to the grief of multiple deaths of her family and of Luke — it was all just so inspiring. She had all these experiences, both good and bad, but she still pushed through — still does. It’s one of the reasons I love her so much.
I was born in 1983, which of course made me a baby when ROTJ came out. I didn’t even get into Star Wars until my teenage years. I bought the original trilogy of movies around 12-13 years old with my own money. I would watch the original trilogy on VHS over and over and over again, almost every weekend. The first real immersion into the Star Wars world was a PC game called “Star Wars: TIE Fighter”, which was the sequel to the “Star Wars: Xwing” game. These games came out in the early 90s and I was hooked. I had a subscription to LucasArts games and every title they released, I would play. I can say that I have probably played every single game that LucasArts games has ever published.
And then the prequels came out in 1999. Coupled with my love of the originals, the prequels enhanced that love by providing me an extension of the world that George Lucas had created. Learning about the characters and how they interacted into the world, learning about the planets and the different races was just fascinating. Through the years after those films, I became more of a casual fan. So, when the sequel trilogy came around, I was really disappointed that it wasn’t a new story. We had seen all of it before and it seemed recycled, right down to the exploding Death Star (aka Starkiller Base). But I where I found my new love of Star Wars was the story that my wife presented to me. That’s when I thought maybe I can find that kind of passion again for the characters and the world of Star Wars. And we hope you do too!
As a story consultant, I was the first to read every scene as it was being written. My wife would write a scene, give it to me, and I’d make notes. What was important to me was keeping the integrity of the characters and providing each with incredible arcs that were profound, deep, and impactful. We went through 127 scenes, whittling that down to 109. And from there, we polished up the action, the locations, the lore, and the dialogue.
I have also poured a lot of my own money into the film, as Co-Producer. Ensuring that the team had what they needed to effectively do their jobs. I collaborate closely with my wife and the production team to keep an eye on the budget and also keep the story as intact as I possibly can.
Some of the successes of the sequel films was that we got to see the fandom come alive through social media, for both good and bad. It is just a fact that the sequels spurred on an entire re-awakening of the fans. Just look how many YouTube channels about Star Wars there are created after 2015? I saw the discussions about these films from all the fans on both sides of the coin. Looking at the positive elements that other fans were focused on, it made see the films in a different light. I found pieces for myself that I could enjoy and would want to see more of. And it inspired me to see how we could potentially fit our own story and ideas into the world. I want to give the fans a new point of view about the characters and the world of Star Wars after the events of The Rise of Skywalker.