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Between 1999 and 2009 Lightsabre.co.uk brought news, fanfic, podcasts and much, much more to the masses. Our seventy-ninth guest was R2-D2’s droid wrangler, a Lucasfilm Archivist and worked for Kerner Optical – please welcome back Don Bies.

Lightsabre – Don, welcome back to Lightsabre.

DB – Thanks for having me back!

Lightsabre – Since we last spoke you’ve changed employment from ILM to Kerner Optical. While you’re still based out of the same location, what is it like to be in this new company?

DB – It’s much of the same–the same people, the same work, the same location…just a different name on the pay cheque.

Lightsabre – It must be exciting to be there at the start of such a new venture as Kerner?

DB – It is! Though we’re established and the times are different, it feels what I always thought the early days of ILM at the start of Empire was like.

Lightsabre – What is it like to be a continuing part of the Star Wars phenomenon?

DB – I didn’t think I’d still be involved! I haven’t done much Star Wars things since the release of Sith, but I just returned from Celebration 4 and it was loads of fun. I met the organizer of Celebration Europe, so I hope to attend that one…the fans are great, and they always make me feel welcome. It’s been a great way to see the world as well!

Lightsabre – We asked you this before and you were very coy, so we’ll ask again. We often hear funny stories from the sets of the movies. You have been a part of so many hugely successful ones you must have a wealth of stories to tell?

DB – I always draw a blank when you ask…I did put up a couple of stories over on the Star Wars Blog Site…

Lightsabre – Being so synonymous with Artoo must make you very interested in the various droid building clubs that have sprung up around the world. What do you think of the amateur efforts as opposed to the professional ones?

DB – Most of the amateur ones are far better then anything we did for the films. They build theirs to last – we just build it good enough to last through the end of filming.

Lightsabre – Do you think you’ll ever get the chance to be Artoo’s droid wrangler again, or are those days done?

DB – I’m not sure…it’s different now, and Lucasfilm has other options available to them.

Lightsabre – Now you are at Kerner the types of projects must surely be different than the slate at ILM. What kind of films are in the works over there?

DB – Kerner just finished work on an independent film called Pig Hunt, and they’re looking at several other projects. Since they’re separate from ILM now, they are free to pursue other types of work, including non-film projects. It’s exciting since you never know what might come through the door.

Lightsabre – As a Lucasfilm Archivist you came across many amazing items, including Vaders helmet from Return of the Jedi. Were there any other pieces that you stumbled across that took your breath away?

DB – The large models are spectacular in person. Many of the props tend to disappoint when you see them up close, as they’re not always as hearty as you’d expect them to be – which I think is cool, as it’s a testament to the artistry of those who build them and the experience they bring to the part – they know just what you need to get the point across. However, the models seem to always have far more detail on them than is seen on the big screen. I would pour over them for hours, particularly models like the 4′ Falcon or the Executor, and admire their detail.

Lightsabre – It’s probably too early to speculate, but given that Kerner have first refusal on any model work ILM require, do you think that there will be some involvement in the live action television series?

DB – It’s too early to tell. I know we have a good relationship with Rick McCallum and George, so I would assume if there was to be model work, they contact Kerner.

Lightsabre – What do you foresee for yourself in the future?

DB – My wife and I have formed our own production company (www.fairstreetfilms.com) and we’re developing several projects, both film and television related. We’re drawing upon our connections with the unlimited talent of our colleagues. It’s an exciting time, as I’ve always intended to be a film maker…I simply was detoured with all this effects work. Check out the website, as we will be putting up some past work and future projects link as we develop it over the next few month.

Lightsabre – A quick question about our site. Any comments?

DB – Once again, I think you’re doing an excellent job – I particularly like the range of interviews available only here.

Lightsabre – It’s been another great interview, and thanks for coming back as our guest. Just one final question. Three identical Astromech droids are stood in a row, waiting for some action that requires their attention.
Despite all of them being painted in the same white, silver and blue, only one of them is Artoo Detoo. How could you tell which one is him?

DB – It’s the one that won’t work when you want it to.

This interview was originally posted on lightsabre.co.uk on 30th September 2007.