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Film

Exploring Skywalker Ranch and George Lucas' private fire department

George Lucas has built his legacy on the back of his greatest creation, the iconic Star Wars universe. Having started a cultural phenomenon, Lucas has established himself as one of the most financially successful filmmakers in the history of cinema and he has continued to fill in consulting roles for recent projects like the popular series The Mandalorian.

Even before he made Star Wars, Lucas showed a lot of promise with some of the early projects that he made during his film school days. With other films like THX-1138 and American Graffiti, Lucas had already proven that he had the cinematic vision of a future pioneer who was ready to release his ideas into the world.

Even Steven Spielberg was extremely jealous of Lucas’ early works, he was also one of his biggest supporters. In those early days, many producers and friends told Lucas that he was making a big mistake with Star Wars and that it was a terrible idea. The only person who believed in him and his vision was Spielberg.

“I showed it to all of my friends early on, but it was mostly filled with stock footage of old war movies and all kinds of stuff,” Lucas explained. “They saw it and said, ‘Poor George. What were you thinking?’ Steven [Spielberg] had jumped up, and said, ‘This is going to be the biggest movie of all time.’ Everybody in the room looked up at Steven and said, ‘Poor Steven.'”

After the unprecedented success of Star Wars and his involvement in multiple business ventures, Lucas decided to set up a unique workspace for his employees by building the famous Skywalker Ranch in the late ’70s. According to multiple reports, the ranch has cost Lucas about $100 million and it is enormous in size.

Although he initially purchased around 1700 acres, the ranch has continued to grow in the area even though the residents of the region have filed several complaints and protests because of the light and noise pollution caused by the facility. In addition to the expensive equipment in those production facilities, the ranch also has safety measures in place.

Lucas realised that a lot of progress would be lost if something happened to the work that was done by his employees at any stage of their process. That’s why Skywalker Ranch also has a private fire department that has firetrucks owned by Lucas himself as well as around 14 career firefighters who are ready to tackle all kinds of problems.

The filmmaker feared that a fire would be a devastating blow to the work that is being done at Skywalker Ranch which is why he went to such lengths. It turned out to be a good decision since the firefighters did end up saving the day when a fire broke out on the ranch in 2013 and they also aid the County firefighters with events like wildfires.

“It’s homey. It’s beautiful. It’s aesthetically pleasing. It has everything you could want in high-tech,” Lucas said of Skywalker Ranch. “[Everyone is] just a few feet from some of the most advanced technical equipment in the world… But it’s not a statement for show, it’s a statement for a purpose. The purpose being the stimulus and the comfort for people who want to do their job well.”

Check out a tour of the Skywalker Ranch below.