| First you wrote a book on
Steven Spielberg and now George Lucas. Tell us
why you chose this man (Lucas)?
Well, like so many of your sites
visitors George Lucas is a major figure
in our imaginative lives. Back in 1989 when "TIME"
magazine reviewed "Indiana Jones and The
Last Crusade" the reviewer described Lucas
and Spielberg as our storytelling dads
and I think that phrase really sums up the great
affection people feel for the work of them both.
Its not just a kind of amazement at what
they do but some warmer feeling too which is great.
I also felt that I had not really read a book
about Lucas films which really dealt specifically
with his skills as a director and the way he tells
stories cinematically. Often, with writing about
Lucas, people refer to the mythological element
but this always seems to neglect the more purely
cinematic concerns of his work. So, it was really
an attempt to kind of balance things out a bit.
I hope that readers find it interesting. And of
course, to be able to write about another movie
making hero is very satisfying. I am very lucky.
If youd told me when I was a kid that one
day Id write books about Lucas and Spielbergs
films I would never have believed you.
How many years of research
did you do? Was most of it general knowledge since
you are a big fan?
Well, I didnt have even a
year to write the book. I had six months pretty
much June to December 2001. When I was
commissioned we did not realize that "Attack
of the Clones" would be released virtually
simultaneously around the world. Originally I
had included a kind of best guess
chapter about the movie, drawing on what had been
made public by late last year. Then , in April
of this year, my editor said I should go and see
"Clones" the day it opened in the UK,
May 16th. So, I did. Immediately after the 11
am screening I went home and spent the rest of
the day writing the full "Clones" chapter
that is in the book. It is very satisfying to
know that my little book is as up to date as can
be. The book went to the printers a few days later
and came out pretty much a week or two ago here
in the UK. Of course, it is available at Amazon.com
Going back to my research for the book, in a sense
I had written the material full out in my head
through all my years as a fan of Lucas work.
It had been a dream to write such a book, so over
the years I have imagined what I would say many
times. That ties in too with the fact that I have
a fair deal of material to hand , as I am sure
many film fans do: the books, articles and so
that looks at his movies, does it cover everything?
Does it discuss Lucas film companies?
Lucas book cover.
Yes, it does. Obviously, the focus,
as the "Pocket Essentials Film Director"
series indicates, focuses on Lucas the film director.
That is essentially the first half of the book.
Some people might think it is odd that "Empire"
and "Jedi" only get a mention
but I really wanted to steer a very clear course
in this book. The second part of the book takes
us through those films George Lucas has executive
produced and developed and in some cases supported
and encouraged. I think most media coverage has
overlooked that part of his career which is a
shame. I guess my hope might be that someone might
read the book and just be interested to learn
what else he has been involved in. And of course,
I refer to Skywalker Ranch, the Educational Foundation
What is your favorite Lucas
movie? Tell us why and how you ended up watching
Whilst I am tempted to say "Star
Wars: A New Hope" I think Ill go for
"American Graffiti". I remember reading
about it when I was very young, probably when
my mum bought me the "Star Wars" novelisation
with the photographs in the center. As I recall
"Graffiti" gets mentioned there. I always
used to think it was a black and white film because
I had seen black and white stills from it in a
film book once. Of course, there is hardly a more
colorful film out there. It used to run on UK
television now and again, but always too late
for me to watch as a kid. This was back when VCRs
were not that widespread. Finally, I saw it first
on BBC2 back in spring 1988. I was astounded.
I loved it. I finally got it on DVD last year
it is a great disc and that sunset that
they composted in for the 25th anniversary is
a nice touch. I love the films energy and
sense of hope too. If you get the chance to read
my book the very last sentence is really a way
to celebrate this terrific film. I watch it every
year. Lucass films are so vividly realized
they really do make you feel like you are visiting
How do you find the new
"Star Wars" trilogy with the classic
I really enjoyed "The Phantom
Menace". I saw it five times when it came
out in 1999! I obviously wasnt busy enough.
I just remember thinking this is so much more
fanciful than the original releases. And that
is of course saying something. I liked the fact
that "The Phantom Menace" was such a
young persons film. I guess we are all guilty
of it, but I think the downside of nostalgia got
the better of us all in the summer of 1999. My
favorite sequence in the film was the underwater
stuff in the bongo sub, it was simply very dreamy.
"Attack of the Clones" really did take
things up a level though in terms of the intricacy
of the plot didnt it ? What I liked best,
as I think a lot of people did, was the sparring
between Obi Wan and Anakin. It was like Indy and
Henry Jones Sr in space which is no bad thing
and no surprise either. My favorite exchange between
them was towards the end of the film where Anakin
wants to save Padme but Obi Wan will not let him.
It is also amazing to think that the range of
scope that CGI environments can offer now makes
the original trilogy seem almost like a smallscale
piece. What I like very much about the new ones
is that there seems to be more space to explore
more ideas. Its just all far more lavish.
And can you believe there is now going to b a
fourth Indiana Jones film? Amazing.
What future books are
you working on? Tell us a bit about them.
Well, I have just finished a new
film reference book due out this Christmas and
I am also getting going on a book for the British
Film Institute which will be used in schools in
the UK. The idea there is to use films as a way
of getting young people to deal with social issues.
I also have a couple of ideas for other film reference
books which I think are pretty good. If I saw
them on a bookshelf Id buy them. But then
I guess I would say that! And of course, I am
working on some fiction too and am ever hopeful
that someday it will be published.
You are an author and a filmmaker.
What projects are you working on right now?
Most of my time right now is spent
writing and to be able to say that is amazing
to me. However, amidst all that I am co-writing
and producing an independent feature, on a super
low budget. We will shoot on DV and edit on Final
Cut Pro. We have a website which is soulsearchermovie.com.
Right now we are confronting the greatest hurdle:
raising financing. The guy I am working with self
funded his own action movie feature last year,
"The Beacon", and we decided to team
up. He is as big a "Back to the Future"
fan as I am and that film is one of our touchstones
for this "Soul Searcher" project. I
am also involved in the development of animation
series for children which is getting a lot of
interest at this early stage. I have written a
script based on the concept bible for the project
and that has been well received. If anyone reading
this wants a cartoon series writer for hire just
let me know. Last year I was lucky enough to do
some work for an animation company here in England
writing scripts for a project they were putting
together. I dont know what it is like in
North America but over here things take a long
time to get through the system. Someday Id
like to do some writing work in America.
The other thing I am doing right now is producing
and writing a short film with a community video
organization in London and the aim there is get
young people engaged with video and also to create
a really smart short film that we can eventually
put out to festivals and so forth. I have started
writing the script and we shoot at the end of
July / early August. Its a small project
and a worthwhile one.
did your first book on Steven Spielberg do in
terms of sales? Are you proud of it?
I think it did ok. What was interesting
and exciting was that a month or two ago the book
was reprinted. The first run went to about 2,000
copies I think. The reprint went to 50,000! The
book was reprinted and given away as a freebie
with the UK movie magazine HOTDOG in May of this
year. Now that was weird, to see so many copies
of my book everywhere I went newsagents,
supermarkets, petrol stations. It is very nice
to have something out in the world and yet in
a funny way it feels as though I never wrote it.
What is freaky, too, is wondering who the people
are who did read it. I guess the same thing happens
with the Internet. With a physical book, though,
it is a little different. What is also a bit weird
is how suddenly with your name on a book people
think that you must really know something about
that given subject, but the truth is my thoughts
are no more or less valid than anyone elses
about, in this case, some films. Hopefully, the
Spielberg book will get a second edition soon
as it needs to include "Artificial Intelligence",
"Minority Report" and "Catch Me
If You Can". You know, the more films Spielberg
makes the more amazed I am. In fact, I dont
even bother saying anything anymore when I come
out of one of his films. Reading the "Minority
Report" reviews makes me ever more eager
to see the film. Have you read the Armond White
review at nypress.com.
Now thats a good review.
Did you approach Lucasfilm
or any of his other companies?
The one thing we did do was write
to Mr. Lucas before I even began the book , more
out of courtesy than anything else I suppose.
I always say this, but it is important: "The
Pocket Essentials" books that I have written
are author studies and certainly not
biographies. They recount certain points about
the career of the given filmmaker but really the
focus is on trying to explore what is interesting
and consistent across a body of work. Really,
I just hope it adds to the fun of watching the
film or rerunning it in the screening room of
If you were a producer and had
to choose from Zemeckis, Lucas and Spielberg as
a director, who would you pick and why?
Id choose Robert Zemeckis.
Why ? I just really like the energy and humor
of his films.