Author Archive



Star Wars Art Series: Illustration Out Now, More to Come

J.W. Rinzler | October 3, 2012

cover-of-sw-art-illo

The third title in our Star Wars Art series is out: Illustration. This follows Visions and Comics. This book unites for the first time a lot of art that has appeared in a lot of places, some easily accessible, some hard to find, from limited edition prints to licensing artwork to everything in-between — by artists such as the legendary Ralph McQuarrie, Jerry Vanderstelt, Christian Waggoner, Paul Youll, Brian Rood, Terese Nielsen, Tsuneo Sanda, John Alvin, Dave Dorman, Hugh Fleming, and many talented folk.

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Laying Out Jedi

J.W. Rinzler | September 21, 2012

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This one’s going to be short, as I’m on little sleep these days. Mornings and weekends, I continue to do the book map of The Making of Return of the Jedi, and am up to the ILM chapters. I’m really trying to use photos as large as I can. I feel that The Making of The Empire Strikes Back had too many photos on a page and the result was, often, a lot of clutter. Some of these photos for Return of the Jedi are so great, I want readers to be able to dive into them: George Lucas and Dennis Muren at ILM; Harrison Ford and Lucas together for the Ewok location shoot; Carrie Fisher on Jabba’s throne room set, etc. And as they say, a picture is worth…

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An Interview and a Box

J.W. Rinzler | August 9, 2012
Director Richard Marquand, Harrison Ford, visual effects supervisor Richard Edlund

Director Richard Marquand, Harrison Ford, visual effects supervisor Richard Edlund

In writing these making of Star Wars books, I’ve become more or less adept at interviewing people: actors, heads of department, producers, directors, craftspeople, visual effects supervisors, et al. I’ve had a few people determined not to say a single thing, for fear of offending someone or of letting a secret out of the bag. I’ve spoken to others where all I needed to do was to ask a single question—and then lean back and listen to the stream of consciousness.

There are two things I’ve learned: You don’t need a lot of questions to fill up your time allotment; and, two, it’s important to follow the conversation, regardless of what your questions might be. If Carrie Fisher says something interesting, but doesn’t quite complete the story—and I’ve seen this in lots of published interviews—you can’t just skip to the next question. Simple rule, but it’s important to get to the root of whatever it is they’re talking about. It helps the conversation flow and those tangents often lead to the interview equivalent of El Dorado: an emotional moment or incident heretofore unknown.

And you don’t want to ask so many questions that they get bored or you run out of time. A good interviewer will sense how things are going and tailor their questions accordingly.

In these archival projects, like Making of Jedi, I still prefer interviews done back in the day, preferably while they’re making the film. Under duress people are more honest, in general. I’d say the single most important moment of research occurred about a year ago. I was rummaging through the boxes in the Skywalker Ranch research warehouse—and stuffed on the side of one banal box was more than a hundred pages of interview done with Richard Marquand. After reading it and a little sleuthing, I’ve dated it to November 1982, a few months after principal photography wrapped.

Producer Howard Kazanjian, Marquand, George Lucas, and costume designer Nilo Rodis-Jamero

Producer Howard Kazanjian, Marquand, George Lucas, and costume designer Nilo Rodis-Jamero

John Philip Peecher wrote the first Making of Jedi book and, as far as I can tell, did only two long sit-down interviews: one with the director, Richard Marquand, and one with the producer, Howard Kazanjian. But when I started researching I didn’t know of the existence of either. Only thorough rummaging, examining every freaking bunch of papers, brought the documents to the light of day—and into the book! Luckily for all of us. Only a fraction of these interviews made it into the first book.

Here’s a fragment from Marquand’s, where he talks, amusingly, about Star Wars and his first meeting with George Lucas:  “What I liked about STAR WARS at that point was that it was a totally believable, but absolutely all encompassing myth. It was unlike science fiction where you can always cut holes in it. Also, I just adored the way the story was told. I just loved that way George told the story as the director. If I hadn’t liked it, I would have not said I didn’t like it, but I certainly wouldn’t have told him that I liked it, which I did.”

So a big thank you to whoever stuffed these interviews into a box nearly 30 years ago. At least they weren’t thrown into the trash.

Next blog: I have no idea…

Lucasfilm executive editor J. W. Rinzler is the author of The Making of Star Wars and The Complete Making of Indiana Jones. He is now writing The Making of Return of the Jedi (and really looking forward to finishing it) for a fall 2013 release. You can visit jwrinzler.com for more info.

How To Spot a Ralph McQuarrie

J.W. Rinzler | August 8, 2012
EP6_CA_882

A Ralph McQuarrie concept artwork or a licensed artwork?

The easy answer is, look for an awe inspiring composition, a refined color palette, dynamic character poses, and original ideas. But my job in researching the Making of Return of the Jedi was to differentiate between a McQuarrie production illustration and his licensed artwork. Not so easy as it might sound, as they’re all stored together in the archives.

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Interviewing George Lucas

J.W. Rinzler | July 24, 2012

This would be the fifth or sixth time I’d be asking George about the making of one of his films. In this case, we’d be talking about The Making of Return of the Jedi. The first official interview was back in 2004 for a book on The Making of Revenge of the Sith. Then we went back in time to Star Wars, the Indiana Jones films, and Empire, for their respective books. For each I always bring lots of backup: extra batteries, a second recorder, notes, laptop (optional)… and of course the questions. (The last thing I want to be doing is scribbling frantically—though that’s what I had to do on set, as it wasn’t practical otherwise.)

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Introducing… Jonathan Rinzler

J.W. Rinzler | July 23, 2012

Editor’s Note: Even though it has been 35 years since Star Wars was released in theaters, and almost 30 since Return of the Jedi, we remain fascinated with untold stories and unseen assets that take us inside the production of the movies. Few people are more devoted to unearthing and telling these stories than Lucasfilm’s J. W. Rinzler. With an unprecedented level of access to the Lucasfilm archives, and to the cast and crew who helped create Star Wars, Rinzler has authored definitive accounts about The Making of Star Wars and The Making of Empire Strikes Back, and is now hard at work on The Making of Return of the Jedi. And, with all of his spare time, Rinzler has agreed to join us a regular contributor to the blog. Read on as he introduces himself and shares more about what you can expect in his future posts!

With the signed photo that ILM gave George Lucas upon completion of their first ever visual effects shot for Star Wars, in front of the Main House, SR (we reproduced this in the Making of ESB book).With the signed photo that ILM gave George Lucas upon completion of their first ever visual effects shot for Star Wars, in front of the Main House, SR (we reproduced this in the Making of ESB book).

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