Well, that turned out to be a bit longer than I had planned on. It’s been four long years since my last look at the “rejected” concepts that my former co-workers and I came up with when we were working on promotions for the launch of Star Wars: Episode One, The Phantom Menace. And it has easily been the most read article we’ve had here at AFi, bouncing around everywhere from Boing Boing and Gizmodo to the official Star Wars blog and Wired, culminating in an interview with NPR about how it all went down.

But the concepts I showed were only a handful of the ideas that we developed. Admittedly, I cherry-picked the best concepts for that first blog; what I feature down below may cause you to roll your eyes a few times. But let me back up and recap the assignment: I was working for a promotional merchandise company when we got the chance to pitch ideas for a few items that would be made to tie-in to Pepsi’s big Episode One promotions. Until we actually won the job, we could only use things from the original trilogy to concept with. If they liked the idea, we could later try and make it fit with the new movie once they let us see a storyline and artwork. We didn’t have a budget, or even know what the items might be used for (part of the pitch was for us to tell them how to use the merchandise). So we could be making something that cost $.25 to manufacture (say, an on-pack for a Pepsi bottle of can) or we might make something for $300 (a “dealer loader”, that it, a display in store that the store owner would keep or raffle off after the promotion is over).

We came up with hundreds of concepts over about 4-5 rounds of pitching. I and a co-worker, Steve Ross, were the big Star Wars fans of the office, but everyone pitched in. Halfway through the pitch we hired noted comic artists Kerry Gammill and Keith Wilson, so you’ll see that some concept art is definitely better than others. And for all that is here, there is still a good number of concepts that I can’t find the artwork for – in 13 years you tend to lose a few things. As it is, these presentation boards are pretty big and are too big to scan; I had to take photos of each one and clean those up, hence one big reason it’s taken me so long to write this follow up. You can see what the actual boards looked like at right; after we landed the account and created the four life-size characters seen way down below, Lucasfilm was so pleased that we explored making two more characters for the video release: Sebulba and Boss Nass. That exploration didn’t get very far, but I’m not sure if I remember why exactly it was killed. Keep in mind that as I said before, most of these concepts were never seen by Lucasfilm or Pepsi before they got killed at lower levels. So please don’t blame them if your favorite concept never got made.

Posted by Jason Geyer [94] Comments