George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch

Its address is 5858 Lucas Valley Road, but the name of the road is just a coincidence, named after a 19th century rancher. And when you drive by the front gates, you think you’re just passing another farm in Marin County, north of San Francisco.

But tucked behind those gates is a dazzling array of buildings that makes it one of the most unique, and sought after, movie complexes in the world.

It’s not exactly a headquarters for Lucasfilms, more like a filmmaker’s retreat where the avant-garde of film can come together to explore new technology in visual and sound effects. But it’s much more than just that.

The ranch itself is located on several buildings throughout 4,700 acres, and has an outdoor pool, a 300-seat theater, two-story library, underground parking for 200, its own fire station, and of course animals, vineyards, and a thriving garden. The estimates are that it cost Lucas upwards of $100 million to develop the ranch to its current state.

It’s a very secretive place. You only get to go by invitation, and can’t take photos—so pictures are hard to come across. When Ronald Reagan was President of the United States, he requested to visit, and was turned down. I was curious about it when I drove by the front gates on a way out to visit a friend, and assumed there would be photos all over the internet. Not quite.

There is this amazing little film that does more than we could hope for to show the natural and manmade beauty of Skywalker Ranch. Lucasfilms was interested in new DSLR technology, and so they invited filmmaker Philip Bloom to spend a few days at the ranch and shoot what he saw, so the folks could see what exactly HD looks like on the big screen.

According to Bloom’s blog post recounting the project, over the course of a few days at Skywalker Ranch it’s not uncommon to see an assembly of legendary directors (see below, at The Ranch), the iconic sound engineer Ben Burtt…and the original frozen-in-metal Han Solo statue.

We can only imagine how incredible it would be to work at Skywalker Ranch, and suspect there’s no such thing as a bad day at the office when your work address is 5858 Lucas valley Road.

Further reading: Wikipedia, and the photographer Philip Bloom’s blog.

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