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Industrial Light and Magic Employees Talk About What it Was Like to Work So Closely With George Lucas on STAR WARS — GeekTyrant

Last week, Star Wars fans were treated to a lot of info and new trailers and content from the Star Wars universe and properties at Star Wars Celebration. One cool panel from Industrial Light & Magic featured a sneak peek at the new documentary Light & Magic, with a discussion including writer Lawrence Kasdan and director Ron Howard, along with experienced VFX veterans Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, Joe Johnston, and Rose Duignan and Lucasfilm executive vice president and general manager Lynwen Brennan.

During the panel, many of these people dug into what it was like to work with the franchise creator, George Lucas during the first films. In the panel, Lawrence Kasdan spoke (via Zoom, as he wasn’t personally in attendance) about the innovation that Lucas brought to the overall franchise:

“Part of the genius of George is that he knows what to ask in people … he could make it clear where he wants to go. And even these amazing people he had working with him would often come to him saying, ‘Well, I don’t know how we’re going to do that. But we will do it.'”

Lucas’ in-depth presence and vision influenced the environment at ILM. Visual effects producer Rose Duignan said:

“George is kind of both a producer and a director. And when he would sit in the screening room, he’s a serious man… he would look in the screening room and he loves organization. He loves efficiency. I would say, ‘Well, we need 10 ‘CBD’s today’ — that stands for ‘Could be better.’ And I would need so many elements approved, and he would aim for that. And at some point, somebody was showing a shot and the optical person said, ‘Oh, in the lower left hand corner there’s a problem, so I’ll redo it.’ And George says, ‘No, if they’re looking in the lower left hand corner, then we have lost them.’ So I thought that was really impressive, that he could balance.”

Joe Johnston equated the experience of working with Lucas to being in film school, saying:

“George was really generous with his knowledge about filmmaking. When we were doing storyboards, in the art department we had three walls full of storyboards. George would come in for the first time and go through them. And he had a big red pen, and he would say, ‘Eh, don’t need that,’ cross that out. ‘Don’t need that,’ and would start crossing things out… and right away, we’d learn not to put the originals on the wall. It was almost like a combination of directing and editing and sort of general filmmaking all in one. It was sort of like being at a film school that didn’t really exist, somehow. But he was always willing to explain why something wasn’t working.”

One resounding sentiment shared by many of the colleagues was summed up by ILM’s Rose Duignan, who said of Lucas’ strong family values and love of the fans:

“One more thing about George, he is a real family man. And if you read anything about ‘Star Wars’ and the whole legacy, he wrote all of this for 12-year-olds. That was his market, that was his target. Because he wanted to teach people about selfishness vs selflessness. And I feel that he set that tone at ILM and that’s where the camaraderie and that’s where the cooperation comes from. It’s because he was pretty selfless. There was not a lot of ego involved in this, it was just, ‘What does this show need?’ And children are extremely important to him.”

That’s all pretty awesome to hear, and I think the love and care that went into the films and story have been felt so strongly by fans over the decades. George Lucas built an incredible empire that is still thriving, and I’m excited for what is still in store.



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