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George Lucas

Creator of "Star Wars"

I decided to go to film school because I loved the idea of making films. I loved photography and everybody said it was a crazy thing to do because in those days nobody made it into the film business. I mean, unless you were related to somebody there was no way in. So everybody was thinking I was silly. "You're never going to get a job." But I wasn't moved by that. I set the goal of getting through film school, and just then focused on getting to that level because I didn't -- you know, I didn't know where I was going to go after that. I wanted to make documentary films, and eventually I got into the goal of -- once I got to school -- of making a film. One of the most telling things about film school is you've got a lot of students in those days especially, it's not quite so much today, but - wandering around saying, "Oh, I wish I could make a movie. I wish I could make a move." You know, "I can't get in this class. I can't get any this or that." The first class I had was an animation class. It wasn't a production class. I had a history class and an animation class. And, in the animation class they gave us one minute of film to put onto the animation camera to operate it, to see how you could move left, move right, make it go up and down. It was a test. You had certain requirements that you had to do. You had to make it go up and had to make it go down, and then the teacher would look at it and say, "Oh yes, you maneuvered this machine to do these things." I took that one minute of film and made it into a movie, and it was a movie that won like, you know twenty or twenty-five awards in every film festival in the world and kind of changed the whole animation department. Meanwhile all the other guys were going around saying, "Oh, I wish I could make a movie. I wish I was in a production class." So then I got into another class and it wasn't really a production class but I managed to get some film and I made a movie. And, I made lots of movies while in school while everybody else was running around saying, "Oh, I wish I could make a movie. I wish they'd give me some film."
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George Lucas

Creator of "Star Wars"

I was always extremely curious about why people did the things they do. I was always very interested in what motivates people and in telling stories and building things. I've always been very into building things. Whether it was chess sets or houses or cars or whatever. I liked to put things together. When I was young, from at least my teenage years they were completely devoted to cars. That was the most important thing in my life from about the ages of 14 to 20.
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George Lucas

Creator of "Star Wars"

George Lucas: Everybody has talent and it's just a matter of moving around until you've discovered what it is. A talent is a combination of something you love a great deal and something you can lose yourself in -- something that you can start at 9 o'clock, look up from your work and it's 10 o'clock at night -- and also something that you have a talent, not a talent for, but skills that you have a natural ability to do very well. And usually those two things go together.
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George Lucas

Creator of "Star Wars"

I think one of the reasons that Steven (Spielberg) and I have been as successful as we have is because we like the movies. We like to go to the movies. We enjoy movies and we want to make movies like the ones we enjoy. We want to be able to entertain the audience. We want to be able to startle the audience. We want to be able to blow the audience away and say -- have them walk out of the theater saying, "Whoa, that was fantastic, I was really moved by that." That's where part of the fun of it is. And, you know, you want people to think. You want people to be emotionally moved. And there's a theory behind that in terms of storytelling. It has been around for thousands of years. And that's where something like live theater or a live performance is something that is very valuable because you get instant feedback from your audience and you kind of know the things that work and the things that don't work. That's the advantage that the Greek storytellers had and Shakespeare had, that us in the film industry are -- that's harder to come by. Which is to be able to see an audience reaction and then adjust to what works. So you have to use your experience of sitting through a lot of movies.
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Paul MacCready

Engineer of the Century

I remember a newsreel in, let's say, 1938, when I was 13 year old, that showed a sailplane flying over a slope at El Mirage. Just this big, graceful machine flying along -- it still sticks in my mind as an early memory. The newsreel also showed a crash a few minutes later, but that didn't bother me. No one was hurt. It was such a wonderful kind of flying. And I found that it was a wonderful, addicting hobby.
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Norman Mailer

Two Pulitzer Prizes

I must say in my years at Harvard I spent more time reading American novelists than I was ever able to do again. I think I probably read every good American novelist there was at that time. I was also very open at the time, so I could see all the merits of someone like J.P. Marquand, some of the semi-good writers, you know? Not semi-good -- semi-major writers. I loved Thomas Wolfe, another example of excess, simple excess. Excess that was available to a young man in the way -- Faulkner's excess was much more sophisticated. You know, it would omit some -- all -- of his baroque complexities. There was his deep sense of tragedy and waste. Waste at a very high level. So, it was the most exciting time in my life and I think if you can't get excited by writing when you are a young writer, you really should question whether you want to be a writer.
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Norman Mailer

Two Pulitzer Prizes

There's no use pretending that at the age of 25 I was a tried and true professional who knew what he was doing. Nonetheless, probably half the people who read me think The Naked and the Dead is my best book, because it has many of the qualities that a marvelous novel written by an amateur can have. It's open, it's daring, it's not afraid to take chances. It takes chances all over the place. More of them succeed than fail. It's not bound by the rigors of style. Once you become a professional, style becomes very important to you. It's the way professional models wouldn't dream of going out in public improperly dressed, by their lights. It's part of who they are. And so, in a certain sense, once you become a true professional, style is part of what you are. You wouldn't turn out a piece of sloppy prose, not anymore. When you're an amateur it's the excitement of writing is so marvelous. There it is! The words are coming out! You don't really pay attention to where the words are that good and where they're that bad. You don't have the experience to judge yet. So in that sense, yes, The Naked and the Dead was a book by an amateur.
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Norman Mailer

Two Pulitzer Prizes

Norman Mailer: Like most other young novelists I was essentially shy and not purposive, and not forward leaning, so to speak. I was like a bird up on a branch observing activity. I was a wonderful observer in those days, compared to now. What happens is, once you become successful suddenly, you grow from a bird to a lion in a very short period of time, but you don't feel like a lion. So it's pretty awful in a certain sense to be a lion who is not feeling like a lion. In other words, you're having an identity crisis. And, as I've said in my book, The Spooky Art, it took me something like 20 years to realize that if I had become a literary lion, that was now part of my true personality. I was not a fraud. Willy nilly, whether I wanted it or not, I had become a literary lion. I had learned to live like one, and I had made all the mistakes of a literary lion, and I could begin to feel like a professional. But, it took 20 years perhaps to get to that point.
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