On August 24, 2012 at Star Wars Celebration VI, fans witnessed the premiere screening of the Ralph McQuarrie Retrospective. Now, take an exclusive look at the first 4 minutes of the film.
Archive for ‘Behind The Scenes’
We are on the very eve of Celebration VI. I’m writing this post in between tech rehearsals at the Behind-the-Scenes stage, looking ahead to what Saturday, August 25th holds (Here’s Day 1, and Day 2). It’s a very full day with a lot of great panels on my stage, but there’s one in particular I want to highlight. Sculptor and cantina-expert Tom Spina and I have been collaborating to make this one a must-see event. You will find out more about the creation of the Mos Eisley Cantina aliens than you could ever imagine possible, I promise you that! This panel boasts never-before-seen pictures and footage, and a chance to leave your mark on the Expanded Universe.
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.
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.
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.
Good news! I’ve selected the Clone Wars season 5 clips that will be shown at Celebration VI – and I think you will be very pleased. To give you a small preview, take a look at this photo of me and Mattias (one of our editors) finalizing a scene. I had fourteen different clips pulled for consideration, but we narrowed it down to a final list. It may surprise you to know that getting these clips together is no simple task. Many come from episodes that are not yet finished, and still require sound design and final lighting shots before they are presentable. Never fear! Matthew Wood and David Accord will be working on the sound design to make sure you have the best possible experience watching these clips at Celebration.
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.)
San Francisco’s SFGate.com just posted a rare video interview with Berkeley KPFA radio dramatist Erik Bauersfeld, the man responsible for voicing Admiral Ackbar’s iconic “It’s a trap!” and other classic lines spoken by Return of the Jedi’s intrepid Mon Calamari hero.
In addition, Bauersfeld was also the voice behind Bib Fortuna, Jabba’s Return of the Jedi majordomo, and had even auditioned for the voice of Yoda. The accompanying editorial also exposes some new items of interest:
- Bauersfeld wasn’t listed in the cast when “Return of the Jedi” came out, but has since been credited.
- Bauersfeld was unaware of the Internet memes and surge in popularity for Ackbar and “It’s a trap!” He seemed to find the University of Mississippi’s drive to have the character named a school mascot especially entertaining.
- To this day [Bauersfeld] hasn’t seen the original “Star Wars,” but he’s developed a growing fondness for “Star Wars” fans, saving their correspondence in a filing cabinet and writing personal responses to each one.
Head on over to SFGate.com to check out the rare interview – and yes, he serves up at least a couple “It’s a traps,” which sound just as deliciously meme-friendly as they did almost 30 years ago…
Ian Ambercrombie, best known to Star Wars fans as the voice of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine in The Clone Wars, sadly passed away on Friday. He will be deeply missed by The Clone Wars crew and the many Star Wars fans who have enjoyed his Clone Wars characterization of Palpatine and his alter-ego, Darth Sidious.
The Clone Wars supervising director and producer relayed their regrets on Friday to the Lucasfilm Animation crew and the many fans of Ambercrombie’s work on The Clone Wars:
Supervising Director Dave Filoni:
“Today is a very sad day for Star Wars fans, as we lost a dear friend in Ian Abercrombie. I cannot express how thankful I am to have had the opportunity to work with Ian. He was extremely passionate about his role on the series and he was brilliant at it. I always called him ‘Chancellor’ no matter where we were, in the studio or out at a restaurant. I think he enjoyed that a great deal. I learned so much from him about directing actors, and working with dialog. His advice and mentoring will be sorely missed by all of us. Though he played a villain on our show, you would be hard pressed to meet a kinder person. He loved to laugh and his sense of humor always lightened our record sessions. I will miss his stories, I will miss his performances, and I will miss his contribution to our show.
“My friend, the Force will be with you, always, and you will never be forgotten.”
Producer Cary Silver:
“Today is a sad day in the Star Wars galaxy. We lost not only an incredible actor but also a very dear man. Ian Abercrombie was an integral part of Clone Wars from the beginning and we will deeply miss not only his portrayal of the Supreme Chancellor, but also his professionalism and especially, his stories. We owe a great debt of gratitude for the time we did get to spend with Ian. May the force be with him.”
You can read more about the work of Ian Ambercrombie (who is also well known to Seinfeld fans as Mr. Pitt) at imdb.com.