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Legends The Making Of Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi, by J.W. Rinzler's


Apr 29, 2008
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Looking forward to this one: http://theforce.net/latestnews/stor...ng_Of_Star_Wars_Return_Of_The_Jedi_150811.asp

Random House's product page for The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi now features a synopsis for the book. Here's what you can expect from Lucasfilm editor J.W. Rinzler's latest behind-the-scenes tome:

Just as Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi completed the most successful cinematic trilogy of its generation, perhaps of all time, this splendid thirtieth-anniversary tribute completes New York Times bestselling author J. W. Rinzler’s trio of fascinating behind-the-scenes books celebrating George Lucas’s classic films.

Once again, the author’s unprecedented access to the formidable Lucasfilm Archives has yielded a mother lode of extremely informative, vastly entertaining, and often unexpected stories, anecdotes, recollections, and revelations straight from the closely guarded set of a big-screen blockbuster in the making. Brimming with previously unpublished photos, production artwork, script excerpts, exclusive intel, vintage on-set interviews, and present-day commentary, The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi chronicles “how George Lucas and his crew of extroverted artists, misfits, and expert craftspeople roused themselves to great heights for a third time” to create the next unforgettable chapter in one of the most beloved sagas of all time. Get up close to the action and feel like a studio insider as

• creator George Lucas, Oscar-nominated screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, and director Richard Marquand huddle in a script conference to debate the destinies of iconic Star Wars characters, as well as plot twists and turns for the epic final showdown between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire
• artists and craftspeople at the groundbreaking Industrial Light & Magic facility top their own revolutionary innovations—despite the infamous Black Friday—with boundary-pushing new analog visual effects
• a crack team of sculptors, puppeteers, actors, and “monster-makers” bring Jabba the Hutt and his cohorts to startling, slobbering life from the inside out
• a who’s who of heavyweight directors—from such films as Superman, Gremlins, Halloween, Dune, Scanners, and Time Bandits—are considered for the coveted job of bringing a new Star Wars adventure to the silver screen
• actors and crew race to the finish line at Elstree Studios, in a fiery desert, and beneath the trees of a dense redwood forest—before money runs out—to answer the questions that audiences had waited three years to find out: Is Darth Vader really Luke’s father, who is the “other”—and who or what is the Emperor?

Star Wars’ stars from both sides of the camera—including Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse, Alec Guinness, director Richard Marquand, producer Howard Kazanjian, Ralph McQuarrie, Joe Johnston, Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, and mastermind George Lucas—weigh in with candid insights on everything from technical challenges, character design, Ewoks, the Empire’s galactic city planet, and the ultimate challenge of bringing the phenomenal space fantasy to a dramatic close. The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi gives a spectacular subject its just due, with more than five hundred images and many, many new interviews.

Here's some additional information about the book from the Edelweiss catalog:
* More than 600 photos and images
* The eBook version will include "bonus content," as will new eBook versions of Rinzler's previous two making-of books, which will also be published on this book's release date.
* This year, Lucasfilm plans "huge" 30th anniversary events for Return of the Jedi that it will promote alongside this book.

The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, by J.W. Rinzler, will be published on October 8, 2013
Aaaannnnd... *drrooooool*

I hope he does Episode VII as well... and I hope it's released to coincide with the release of the BLURAY, not the theatire release, so that he's able to go inot spoiler territory rather than having to avoid it.
I bought the first one way back and I'm ashamed to say that I still haven't read the whole thing. Just glimpsed through it.
I highly recommend both the ANH and ESB ones. Lots of bits of info i personally didnt know about, so that alone made them worthwhile to me.

Of course, i'm looking forward to this one :woot:
In light of this book almost getting released (finally!), i share this: http://io9.com/10-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-star-wars-ret-1383276948

10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Star Wars: Return of the Jedi


This year marks the 30th anniversary of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. To celebrate, Star Wars historian J.W. Rinzler has created another of his gorgeous coffee-table books, chock full of never-revealed secrets about the making of the film. We pored over his tome, and discovered 10 things you never knew about Jedi.

Just like Rinzler's 2010 volume about Empire Strikes Back, The Making of Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi is an indispensible volume that will add tons of insight to your appreciation of George Lucas' Original Trilogy. Rinzler has gone through masses of production documents at Lucasfilm and interviewed tons of people, and come up with a portrait of Lucas struggling to find a fitting ending to his ambitious, heroic saga.

In particular, you might have thought Jedi would have been easy sailing after the troubled productions of the first two films — now, at last, Lucas had proved that he could make a hit film twice. And Lucas had overcome the industry stigma against big-budget sequels, which was a major issue 30 years ago. But no — if anything, Return of the Jedi looks like it was just as chaotic a production as the first two movies, in part due to the fact that Lucas was attempting a lot of things that had never been done before, and working with a less experienced director, Richard Marquand.

(Also, Lucas really thought David Lynch was going to direct Jedi — Lynch was Lucas' first choice, and Lucas was shocked when Lynch turned it down.)

Rinzler has compiled excerpts from various treatments for Jedi — going back to early handwritten scribbles, in which Lucas muses that Luke might have a sister — and the book also includes piles and piles of behind-the-scenes photos and concept art. Including a few pieces of concept art for different versions of Princess Leia's slave outfit, along with some much more feral Ewoks.

(And a running theme in the book is that everybody except Lucas hated the Ewoks, those invincible teddy bears. They were a sticking point at every stage of production, and concept artist Ralph McQuarrie refused to work on designs for them once he realized what Lucas actually wanted. Crewmembers and castmembers alike were openly scornful of these critters, and especially of the final triumphant dance scene.)


Image: Ewoks seize the clapperboard on May 17, 1982, during second unit work near Crescent City.

The picture that emerges after reading Rinzler's Making Of book is of a somewhat troubled production, in which Lucas was being a control freak but was also sick of his own creation. The post-production process offers its own drama in the form of Black Friday, the day Lucas threw out hundreds of completed VFX shots and forced the Industrial Light and Magic crew to go back to the drawing board on key sequences.

And yet, you might also come away with a new appreciation of Return of the Jedi. You sense that this film was a labor of love for almost everybody involved. And that Lucas was wrestling with taking the dark subject matter of Luke and his monstrous father and turning it into something uplifting, joyful and life-affirming. Lucas wanted a happy, fairy-tale ending, and he moved heaven and Earth to get it.

Check out some behind-the-scenes pictures from the book below, plus:

Here are the top 10 things you probably didn't know about Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi:

10) In an early script draft, Luke puts Han into bondage.

Actually, at first George Lucas didn't think Han Solo would be in Return of the Jedi at all — actor Harrison Ford was only contracted for the first two movies, unlike the rest of the main cast. And then Lucas thought maybe they would negotiate a new deal, that would allow Han Solo to be defrosted at the very end of the movie and put in a brief appearance. Even once Ford was signed up to be in the film, though, early script drafts found ways to get him out of the way — like, in one version, Leia is leading a Rebel attack on a cannon, and Han Solo wants to stop her because it's suicide. So Luke uses the Force to manacle Solo to the Millennium Falcon controls, and keeps "the chained-up Solo" there for a good long while. (That counts as "bondage" if this does.) And while it's true that Harrison Ford pushed for Han Solo to die in the third movie, Lucas never even considered doing it.

9) Richard Marquand wanted a famous actor to be the unmasked Vader

Instead of removing Vader's helmet to show actor Sebastian Shaw, Marquand originally wanted to reveal the deformed visage of a famous British stage actor, like Laurence Olivier or John Gielgud. But Lucas worried that the reveal of a known actor would distract people, who "wouldn't take it seriously." So Marquand looked for an actor who is "just a person," with an unremarkable face. Also, Ian McDiarmid almost didn't get to play the Emperor — they were deciding between McDiarmid, who was a young man and thus could handle romping around in all that makeup for hours, and Alan Webb, who was authentically elderly. They chose Alan Webb, who became ill soon afterwards. So McDiarmid got the part, and was young enough to be able to play the role again in the prequels.


Image: George Lucas and Richard Marquand on the Emperor's throne room set at Elstree during principal photography.

8) David Prowse was not told about Darth Vader's fate

David Prowse played the body of Darth Vader, while James Earl Jones provided the voice. (And Jones joked that if Prowse won an Oscar, he'd want to stand in the wings and overdub his acceptance speech.) Prowse had become notorious for leaking plot details during the production of Empire Strikes Back, and thus Lucas had started giving Prowse fake dialogue (which confused the other actors sometimes.) Prowse, for his part, felt slighted for his contributions to Darth Vader — and when he heard rumors they were going to unmask Darth Vader and reveal another actor's face, he couldn't believe it was true. "They wouldn't do such a dirty deed to me," Prowse is quoted as saying. "They wouldn't put another actor in the suit, and when my big moment arrived, unmask somebody else." He also couldn't believe they would kill off Vader.

7) They seriously considered filming Blue Harvest, their fake horror movie

The working title for Jedi was Blue Harvest, to try and keep fans and journalists from stumbling onto the movie's set. The tagline for Blue Harvest was "Horror Beyond Imagination." And during the period when the severe sandstorms made filming impossible for the Sarlacc pit sequence, they were stuck in their trailers — and came up with an actual movie that would fit their title and logline. "We devised a complete movie, which was in fact Blue Harvest," Marquand is quoted as saying. "It would start with Carrie Fisher in her slave girl costume lying asleep in her trailer. We said 'Why not put a ghost in it?' George was going to write a five-page screenplay, I'd shoot it in a couple of days, and it would be 'Horror Beyond Imagination.' The story would have dune buggies coming over the hills invading the trailers, with nothing around them but graves and werewolves. We were seriously going to do it." And Lucas told Hamill that Roger Corman used to shoot a whole movie in two days, so why not?


Image: Phil Tippett and Stewart Freeborn pose before their joint collaboration: a fantastic menagerie of wonderful monsters.

6) The Sarlacc had an animatronic tentacle, which Lucas didn't want to use

The crew had built a $50,000 animatronic "arm" for the monstrous underground Sarlacc, which comes up out of the hole and grabs a guard, pulling him under. Richard Marquand had okayed the use of this contraption, which had wires and a radio remote control. But then Lucas showed up on set and nixed the device, in favor of just wrapping some cloth around the guard's ankle and then pulling it off, while running the camera in reverse.

5) Rumor had it Boba Fett was Luke Skywalker's mother :-)wow::hehe:)

Yes, you read that right. His mother. A development that would have made the Star Wars prequels very, very different. This was just one of the bizarre fan rumors that the Star Wars Fan Club collected at the time and shared with the cast and crew, to their amusement. One fan rumor that Mark Hamill really liked: Han Solo and Darth Vader were somehow "fused," so that Luke couldn't kill Vader without also killing Han.


Image: Harrison Ford in-between setups chatting with George Lucas.

4) Yoda and Obi-Wan were going to come back to life in the flesh

This was one ending that Lucas toyed with for a long time. In the end, Luke's mentors emerge from the "Netherworld" and join Luke in the land of the living, for the final celebration. And in several script drafts, when Luke Skywalker confronts Darth Vader and the Emperor, Obi-Wan and Yoda are there, coaching Luke and taunting the Emperor.

One draft even made it a plot point that Obi-Wan was at a critical moment where he needed to return to physical existence, or else he would be pulled into the Force and lose his identity — and maybe Obi-Wan's Force ghost was keeping the Emperor from exerting his full powers. Lucas wanted to explore the idea that Obi-Wan's ghost was doing something important, given the line in the first movie about Obi-Wan returning more powerful than Vader could imagine. Also, actor Alec Guinness was hesitant to return for a third movie, if he was just going to be standing on a greenscreen and giving more expository dialogue. In one script draft, Obi-Wan gives a long, miserable speech to Luke about how everything that has gone wrong is Obi-Wan's fault, and it's up to Luke to fix Obi-Wan's mess. (And in that speech, Obi-Wan reveals that Uncle Owen was Obi-Wan's brother.)

3) George Lucas told Lawrence Kasdan that anyone can use the Force

It's just like doing yoga, Lucas told Kasdan during a marathon story conference. Or karate. "If you want to take the time to do it, you can do it." It just takes practice and concentration. Also, Lucas clarified that a "Jedi Master" like Yoda is different from a Jedi Knight," because "he's a teacher, not a real Jedi." And Yoda is like a Guru, who "doesn't go out and fight anybody." And Yoda wouldn't be any good in a fight, against someone like Darth Vader. Kasdan responded: "I understand what you're saying, but I can't believe it; I am in shock."


Image: Mark Hamill is filmed during Luke's moment of choice: Will he commit patricide or become a true Jedi and show compassion for his father

2) There were going to be two Death Stars, instead of just one.

Because that's one way to raise the stakes. In the original outline, one of the Death Stars is half-completed, and the Rebels blow it up with torpedos after destroying the shield generator. The second one also gets destroyed somehow, around the time Vader betrays the Emperor and jumps into a pool of lava with him. (This is in the Imperial City of Abbadon, which got dropped as a location for the big climax.)

1) George Lucas pitched a really dark ending. Like, really dark.

Even though Lucas really wanted a bright, upbeat ending, and he fought against killing off any major characters — even Yoda, for a long time — during one story session, Lucas pitched a really, really dark ending. In a nutshell, the scene with Vader and the Emperor unspools the way it does in the final film. Vader sacrifices himself to take out the Emperor, and then Luke helps Vader to take off his famous helmet. And then — Luke puts on Vader's helmet himself. In the transcript of the story session with Lucas and Kasdan, Lucas says: "Luke takes his mask off. The mask is the very last thing — and then Luke puts it on and says, 'Now I am Vader.' Surprise! The ultimate twist. 'Now I will go and kill the [Rebel] fleet and I will rule the universe.'" Kasdan immediately responded, "That's what I think should happen" — but Lucas didn't actually want to go that dark because "this is for kids."


Image: Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) on location in California's Buttercup Valley aboard Jabba's barge, April 1982.

The Making of Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi by J.W. Rinzler is out on Oct. 1.
If we got the EXACT SAME RotJ with Luke becoming Vader, it would make absolutely no sense.
In an interview about this book, when asked if he'd be doing a "Making of Episode VII" book, JW Rinzler said "I have to recuse myself here. I can't talk about anything Episode VII".

MAN, do I hope that's a 'yes'.
That sounds like a "very likely yes" to me hehe. Let's hope so. I have enjoyed these books a lot, and one thing Lucas did have was sharing all of that backstage stuff and info with the fans, so hopefully that's a trend that will continue with the new movies.
A cool interview by the people of TFN with the author: http://www.theforce.net/story/front...turn_Of_The_Jedi_Author_JW_Rinzler_154403.asp

TFN Interview: The Making Of Return Of The Jedi Author J.W. Rinzler

Posted by Eric on October 1, 2013 at 03:49 PM CST | 0 Comments
J.W. Rinzler's book series chronicling the making of the Original Trilogy wraps up today with The Making of Return of the Jedi. This massive book tells the story of Episode VI from beginning to end, and it's crammed with amusing anecdotes, fascinating trivia, and tense moments that reveal a lot about the filmmakers and the creative process. I wrote about ten interesting things I learned from this book for The Official Star Wars Blog. In preparation for the book's release, I also spoke to Mr. Rinzler, an editor at Lucasfilm and a veteran of their publishing division, to get a sense of how he put this book together and what he learned while doing so.


When did you first see a Star Wars film?

I was lucky enough to go to a sneak preview of Star Wars at the Coronet [Theatre in Los Angeles]. My stepfather was a manager of a radio station and he got a sneak preview. I actually did not want to go, because he told me it was a science-fiction movie, and I’d recently been dragged to Solaris, the Russian version, and 2001, both of which I was too young for, and I thought, “Oh my god, this is going to be so awful. I really don’t want to go.” But they dragged me to it. My brother says that George Lucas was there; I don’t know. But it was at the Coronet. And [we had] our minds blown with everybody else. It was just an amazing experience.

When did you start working at Lucasfilm?

That was in 2001. I started in October, so I’ve been here for 10+ years. I’d always wanted to work here, and I just responded to an online classified for an editor. I didn’t even know that they had a book department here! [laughs] I had tried to get into ILM earlier and failed dismally, so I was really happy to be hired. I started working at Skywalker Ranch in the beginning. That was unbelievable.

What were your first thoughts on Jedi? Do you feel the same way now?

I still feel the same way. By the time it came out, I was in college, and to me, I have a hard time with the Ewoks, I loved the speeder bike chase, I loved all the Hoth stuff, but when the Ewoks came on the screen, I was like, “You gotta be kidding me,” to be perfectly honest.

But over the years, people have embraced the Ewoks. The people who saw that movie when they were seven loved the Ewoks. There’s even some sort of online graphic that shows the age you are and whether you like Ewoks or not. Where I stand on the three originals is [that] Star Wars is my favorite. It’s the one that stands on its own. John Barry was the production designer; I love his stuff. Roger Christian was the set decorator. You have an amazing team in England. That’s the movie that does it for me, although I liked them all.

How much of the material from Philip Peecher’s 1983 book The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi did you use, and how did you use it to launch your own work?

It’s a little bit like the Empire one, although in fact, I probably used more of the Empire one because Alan Arnold was there a lot. I don’t think Peecher was around. He wasn’t interviewing people. And he didn’t really interview people that much. Maybe he was around for some of it. I didn’t end up using very much, very little in fact. The two things that he did which were great, which I didn’t know about when I started and which are not really in his book, are the extended interviews he did with Richard Marquand and Howard Kazanjian, which I found in a box. He used, maybe, five percent of those interviews in his book, and I used the other 95% in my book, simply because (a) I had more space than he did and (b) they’re very open in their interviews. Thirty years ago, they didn’t want to print a lot of that stuff.

How did you approach the process of piecing together a timeline of the story and incorporating different materials into that outline?

Well, it’s been an ongoing process, and I kind of get better at it with each book. For Jedi, it was the most seamless, because I’d already done it twice. What I do is I start going through the production archives, and there’s lots of memos and charts and Telexes, and sooner or later you find the progress reports and the call sheets, which help you with production. And then there’s ILM stuff. Basically, I build what I call a chronological skeleton first from all of that stuff. Then, I start looking at all the interviews. Once you have the chronological skeleton, it’s easier to slot in where the interviews go. You take apart each interview and put the comments where they need to go in terms of the timeline. Then you just slowly flesh it out.

What was the most surprising thing you learned while working on this book?

Let me think. I’ve got to go back to who I was a couple years ago. [laughs] What did I learn? I learned much more about what was happening on set, in terms of Richard Marquand … what it was like for people to work with him. It wasn’t surprising, but it was interesting to get much more in-depth about. Because that’s the real story; in a way, it’s Richard Marquand’s story, to some extent, behind the scenes. He was the new guy, he was the director, and that was a through-line throughout [the film’s production] that was very interesting to explore. Obviously, he’s passed away, but [I had] his interview [with Peecher] and I spoke with his widow and one of his sons.

It’s like writing about a family. I started on Star Wars and I finished on Jedi. I finished a big chapter in everybody’s life. Being able to get into the meaty area there was interesting.

The one thing I didn’t know about was Black Friday at ILM. I didn’t know that, at one point, George threw out so many visual effects shots and redesigned it and practically caused people at ILM to have nervous breakdowns.

While you were working on this book, I remember you were often tweeting about interviewing people who were involved in the movie. Who were some of your favorite interviewees?

Well, if you bothered to read every word of the book [laughs], somewhere in there, in the Thanks section, I think, I give Duwayne Dunham and Nilo Rodis-Jamero the award for best phone interviews. They were so funny. It was as if it happened yesterday, and they just had funny story after funny story after funny story. I mean, the two of them together must account for 25% of all the laughter in the book. They were great.

Talking with George is always a highlight. Let’s be serious. I spend a year and a half doing the research, and occasionally I’ll say, “Oh, I just don’t know the answer to that one. That’s a George question.” I keep a running list of questions for George. Then I finally get to talk to him after he’s read the rough draft, to sit down with him for, usually, almost a couple of hours. That’s a lot of fun, because so much stuff builds up [to discuss]. And then he’s also quite funny in the stories and also has a great memory and tells a good story. So that’s always a highlight of writing these books.

And then there’s other people, like Rose Duignan was great to talk to. She told a great story about how she got the job on Star Wars, which I hadn’t been able to put in the Star Wars book, so I stuck it in Jedi just because it was such a great story.

There were a lot of interesting people to talk to. It was actually pretty rare that there was somebody who just had nothing to say.

As I was reading the June 12, 1981 rough draft, one thing I was struck by was the open antagonism between Vader and the Emperor. Throughout the book, you describe the ways in which the earlier drafts differed from the final version in terms of character continuity. What did you think about the way Lucas originally had Vader and the Emperor interacting in this movie?

Well, the early drafts are rougher and what I like about the Vader/Emperor [dynamic] in the movie is that it’s distilled down to two exchanges. Kasdan revised that. I think I say [in the book] how wonderful it is that you just have the Emperor saying, “Funny how I didn’t notice” whatever it was in the movie. “Are you sure you’re quite clear on this?” And [Vader] goes, “Yes I am.” It’s such spare dialogue and the audience understands everything that’s not said. It’s almost as if their entire antagonism is boiled down to that one moment. It worked really well.

I do think Leia and Han kind of got short-shrifted in the final film. I say that in the book and I stand by that. It would have been nice if they’d had more to do. But I can understand why they wanted to unite everybody… They were all choices that had to be made. They wanted to get everybody back in Jabba’s palace. It would have been interesting if she’d been leading the fight on Endor [as was originally scripted], but it ultimately didn’t make any sense, so they had to change it.

I did ask George. What I was having a hard time understanding was, What are Vader and the Emperor doing? Why does Vader stop Luke’s blow from killing the Emperor? And I did a blog about it. And I got a lot of really good responses. I asked George about it, and George’s response is in the book, and it makes a lot of sense. So now I understand more! [laughs]

What was the hardest thing to cut from the book?

A lot of interviewers ask me that question. The great thing about these books is that they are so big. Text-wise, I got everything I wanted in here. There’s not one sentence on the cutting-room floor. I even gave it to the editor at Random House and said, “Please, if any part of this is boring, just tell me and I’ll cut it out.” And I don’t mean to boast or anything, but [he said], “No, this is all good, keep it all in.” George didn’t cut anything out when he read it. So it’s all there text-wise.

Image-wise, yeah, it’s hard to make the choices. Particularly for this book, I wanted to show images larger –– just have one to a page or two to a page –– and not do as much … I think in [the book on] Empire, sometimes I had seven or eight images on a page. I did less of that this time, so there were some tough choices image-wise. I would’ve liked to have gotten more of this great black-and-white photography in there.

But, that said, there is the enhanced eBook version of this book. Pretty much everything that I wanted to get into the hard copy is in the eBook version of this book.

Tell me about the bonus content that will be in the eBook version. What can fans expect from that?

They’re doing all three making-of [eBooks]. At Comic Con, I showed the Star Wars gag reel, which brought the house down. That’ll be on that eBook. For Empire, I showed some animatics from the Battle of Hoth, which was cool. For Jedi, I showed behind-the-scenes of them in Crescent City trying to film the Battle of Endor, which is kind of funny because it’s so chaotic –– Marquand and George and everybody trying to organize things, and it’s not going all that well.

For Jedi, we also have a very early cut they put together of [the] Luke-building-his-lightsaber scene. Not the finished version, but a really rough, montage thing they did from different parts, which was kind of interesting. I know fans are really interested in that. There’s great stuff on the briefing room scene, of just Luke talking with Kenny Baker, Howard Kazanjian talking with Marquand, and then all the principles blocking out a scene and then filming it. It really shows you how they worked.

There’s a couple scenes where Marquand’s doing the voice of Vader, instead of Prowse. They’re dailies. Basically, you have Mark [Hamill] doing a scene on Endor [with] Vader, but Marquand is doing Vader’s voice. You have the Jabba the Hutt test, where they’re testing out the giant Jabba puppet.

Eventually we’ll put up online exactly what’s going in there.

While writing your three Original Trilogy making-of books, you read numerous documents from George Lucas' story meetings. What have you learned about his vision and his goals from reading those notes?

The thing that I come away with is [that] George’s process is very iterative. He starts with an idea, then he expands, then he contracts, then he works with many brilliant collaborators. The great thing about George is [that] it all goes through his filter. He doesn’t get pulled too much this way or that way. The ideas come to him for the concept artists, the writer, the production designer, and he’s extremely focused. It either fits in or it doesn’t; it either helps or it doesn’t. There are very few people making movies that are as good at doing that as he is. On the one hand, I really learned about his process.

On the other hand, I also really appreciate all the things that his collaborators did bring to the project: Ralph [McQuarrie] and Joe Johnston, John Williams and Normand Reynolds, John Barry and Roger Christian. All these people played very key roles and there’s parts of those people in these movies too. And of course the actors. And of course Mark Hamill, who really, really deserves a lot of credit for the success of the films.

What was your favorite stage of production to write about?

Well, I tend to really like writing about pre-production, because that’s the most intensely creative part of it. All these things are happening simultaneously –– plus the deal-making, which I find interesting, all the hardcore business negotiations that are going on. But then I love writing about the actors during production, and I love writing about ILM. I think particularly for Jedi, ILM really elevated the film. Those guys were at the top of their game. You have Ken Ralston, Dennis Muren, and Richard Edlund still on the same team –– three world-class visual effects supervisors who have all gone on to head up their own departments –– working on the same film. And then of course Ben Burtt. Lorne Peterson said it was like being in Renaissance Florence at that time. You had so many talented people in the same place.

Speaking of ILM, one of the things I found fascinating was the extent to which ILM was working on other, “non-George” films during this time, in order to be financially solvent. That seemed to shape a lot of the decisions that happened on Jedi at Lucasfilm.

Yeah. And I should add to [my] list, you had Phil Tippett and Joe Johnston. One guy’s gone on to be an A-list director and the other has run a studio for twenty-five years.

But yeah, that is something that I learned. I didn’t realize to what extent those [ILM] guys were kind of burned out before they even started on Jedi. I think Dennis mentions that. And yet, they just pulled up their bootstraps and got to work –– even after Black Sunday.

You have some interesting memos in there from [then-ILM general manager] Tom Smith … everybody’s trying to figure out, “Well, how much should we charge? What does an effects shot cost?” That was fun to write about. I figured [that] for all the special-effects historians, there’s some stuff in there you won’t find anywhere else.

It seemed like a lot of the negotiation between Fox and Lucasfilm had to do with how successful the film would be, and whether Fox could be convinced to make an effort to promote it.

Their conflict was not about whether it was going to be successful. There were several things going on at once. George was paying for Jedi, so then Fox [was] getting less from the box office receipts, so they had less incentive to market the film. So Lucasfilm’s challenge was getting Fox to buy in enough so they would market the film effectively. It still does need marketing and distribution. It was a delicate balance. Plus, [there was] the rights of Star Wars and all that stuff. Plus, there was no longer [George Lucas supporter] Alan Ladd over at Fox. All of that became very contentious.

By Jedi, they knew they had a blockbuster on their hands. The proof of that is that, when it comes out, there’s not a movie that anybody spent any money on within three or four weeks of the film.

In writing these making-of books, you've had to look back at decades-old meetings and ideas and developments. Will you be doing any kind of real-time chronicling for the sequel trilogy?

[He passes to Lucasfilm publicist Chris Argyropoulos, who says, “Too early to tell.”]

Do you have any plans to write making-of books for Episode I and II?

At this point, there are no plans. It’s unlikely. It’s one of those that just happens organically but turned out to work out well: We had this lull between theatrical releases that nobody really planned, so I was able to fill up that lull with these three books. It happened to be the film’s thirtieth anniversary. But now that we have films coming out every year, I think it’s unlikely that anybody’s going to want to do a giant Making of Episode II, or I, at this point. You never know, but it’s unlikely.

I want to thank J.W. Rinzler very much for talking with me about The Making of Return of the Jedi. The book is on sale now. Buy it. You won't regret it.

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