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If you like George Lucas's story, you might also like:
James Cameron,
Francis Ford Coppola,
Ron Howard,
Peter Jackson,
James Earl Jones,
James Rosenquist,
Julie Taymor,
Kent Weeks and
Robert Zemeckis

George Lucas can also be seen and heard in our Podcast Center

George Lucas also appears in the videos:
Education in the 21st Century
Passion, Creativity and the Arts: Writing for Motion Pictures
The Arts, Sciences & Creativity
The Power of Words
Media and Social Responsibility

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring George Lucas in the Achievement Curriculum section:
The Power of Words
Talent and Vision

Related Links:
Lucas Museum
Star Wars
The Giving Pledge

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George Lucas
George Lucas
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George Lucas Interview (page: 5 / 9)

Creator of "Star Wars"

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  George Lucas

Ever since Star Wars, we've seen all of these action figures and tie-ins and merchandising with popular films. This was something new in the movie business, wasn't it? How did you figure out that this could be part of the business?

George Lucas Interview Photo
George Lucas: Well, those things kind of happen. When you are a beginning film maker you are desperate to survive. The most important thing in the end is survival and being able to get to your next picture. I had written a screenplay, but the screenplay was so big that I couldn't possibly make it into one movie. So I said, "Okay. I'll get rid of the last two thirds of it, and I'll just do the first act. I can make that into one movie. That's big enough." But I still had all this other work that I'd done. I'd spent a whole year doing this and I said, "I'm not going to give this up. I won't just put this on the shelf and forget it. I'll make this into three movies and I will make all three movies. "

I made a pact with myself that I was going to make all three (Star Wars) movies, and in order to do that, as I stated to make my deal with 20th Century Fox, I acquired the sequel rights, because I didn't want them to bury the sequel. I wanted to make these movies and I was determined to make these movies regardless of whether they wanted to, or the movie made any money or not. And then I got the merchandising rights, which weren't anything at the time because there was no such thing as merchandising on movies. Some TV stuff, but not movies. Their life span is just too short. But I figured I could make posters. I could make t-shirts and, you know, I could publicize the movie and, hopefully, people would go see it. And because the studio -- everything is sort of a struggle again to survive, which is -- the studio won't put enough money into your movie to get it into the theaters, to do the advertising. So I said, "Well, I can't. I don't have any money. I don't have any money, but I can maybe make a t-shirt deal and I can maybe make a poster deal, and I can maybe get these out at science fiction conventions and things before the movie comes out, and promote the movie." So I did it as sort of self-preservation.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

I'm an independent filmmaker from San Francisco. I don't have a lot of resources, so I have to think about how I'm going to get through this movie, and not only that, but how I'm going get it promoted and make enough money to do the next movie. As it turned out, the film was so successful we were able to make toy deals and we began to start the whole idea of action figures, of tie-ins, of toys that go along with movies. Over the years that's one of the things that's helped me stay independent and finance my own movies and stay in business.

How important is it to you to be independent?

George Lucas: For me it's very important.

I think for most creative people they don't like others looking over their shoulder saying, "Why don't you make that green? Why don't you make that blue? Why are you doing this? Why are you doing that? I don't like that. Don't put that in there." It's sort of like Michelangelo and the Pope in terms of doing the Sistine Chapel. It is a very irritating thing, and I'm sure Michelangelo was very irritated with the Pope. So you try to get yourself into a situation where you only have to answer to yourself, where you can ask advice of people and work with your peers and mentors and things to try to do the best job that you can possibly do. There's nothing worse than the frustration of having somebody who you feel doesn't get what you're doing, trying to turn it into something else. It's a very, very annoying and sort of frustrating thing and I just never wanted to go through it. I was very fortunate as I came up through the film business that I was able to insulate myself from that. Occasionally I get a studio re-cutting my movie at the very end, but I'd would always fight and get it, eventually, even if years later, get it cut back. But, it comes out of film school, I think, where the primacy of the creative process in terms of making a film, is what you live for. It's not a business. It's trying to create something interesting that you're proud of, and try out creative ideas that may seem really off the wall, may work or may not work.

Sometimes people are surprised to learn that most of the films I've made don't work. They've been released but nobody has ever seen them. Maybe 40 percent of them are very successful. That's a very high percentage; most people have maybe 10 or 15 percent of their films work. When my films that don't work it's usually because I tried some very experimental idea. I tried new ideas and they just didn't work, as opposed to trying to do something conventional and having it be so conventional nobody wanted to see it.

I'm very proud of all the movies I made. I am very happy with everything I've done. I like to watch my movies. Some of them work. Some of them don't. Some of them people like, most of them they don't.

And that's all right with you?

George Lucas: It is all right because I like making movies. I like the process. I like trying out new ideas, and if they don't work, they don't work. That's the reason I generated the money in the first place, to be able to try things. That's where I spend my money.

What do you see as the next challenge, the next frontier in the art of making movies?

George Lucas Interview Photo
George Lucas: I think crossing into the digital age is the big move for the industry. I think it will be the biggest thing that's happened while I've been making movies. I equate it to the invention of color or sound, and I don't see any other major technical process coming along and changing that.

I think there are going to be some social changes that take place due to the Internet, and the availability of the tools to more and more people. I think you are going to find a lot of people re-cutting movies and changing them, making them into their own movies, things that are hard to contemplate at this point. And there will be delivery systems that are way, way different. But in terms of the primary process of making a movie, once we get through this digital revolution, I think it should stay pretty much like that for at least the next 20 or 30 years.

It's hard to tell, but I think the biggest issue is going to be to be how the movies get into the marketplace and what happens to them once they are there. I don't think it's going to be a "sit down, hands off" situation anymore. I think it's going to be people sort of reinventing the movies once they're out there. How this works for the artist, I don't know. And what it does to the marketplace, I don't know. We're living in very exciting times and I look forward to seeing how this whole thing evolves.

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This page last revised on Dec 10, 2013 01:03 EDT
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