The Best Show on WFMU: December 19, 2000
DJ: Okay, we have our guest, who worked on Episode I of the Star Wars movies, The Phantom Menace.
C: For your listeners out there, I worked on the latter part of The Phantom Menace. I came on at the end of production and all through post-production. And I worked on Episode II all through pre-production and through the shoot, well through most of the shoot, and then was unceremoniously let go from the process.
DJ: Now what capacity were you involved in the movie?
C: Well, without tipping too much of my identity, I was, in the vaguest sense, an onset
assistant effects supervisor. It's a job that requires a person to be on the set during the shooting of the film as a representative, as one of many representatives, for Industrial Light and Magic, the effects department, to make sure all the photography is lined up and we know what we are doing in terms of everything we need to put in to the numerous post-production for the movie.
DJ: How deep did you get into the second one?
C: I was on for the entire prep period of Episode II and then probably for, I would say, three quarters of the shooting at the new Fox studio in Australia before I was let go.
DJ: Why were you let go?
C: Well, Tom, I don't want to get into it too much. I think umm, I would say... I'm sorry Tom, I'm a little nervous. I would say, in the context of making a Star Wars movie, some opinions are valued more than others and some aren't valued at all and Star Wars is, and always has been, George Lucas' vision. It's either George's way or the highway, and I guess I got the highway.
DJ: So how much of Episode II are you aware of?
C: Well, in terms of the overall story, I am aware of quite a bit in terms of the specific characters and things. Now obviously one of the great mysteries of the movie so far is the film's title. I happen to know what the actual title is, and if you'd like, that's one of the things I would like to discuss tonight.
DJ: That's a huge bombshell for Star Wars fans.
C: It's probably the Number One bit of coveted Episode II information. Episode II strikes a balance between a love story between Anakin and Amadala and the rise of the Sith Lords. In all the drafts of the script it was always just called Episode II. I think in the last month of my involvement, a certain amount of the pages were released with the title Veil of the Sith. At one point, the title Hand of the Sith was thrown out and around, and that was incorrect, The Jedi Nexus was one, but Veil of the Sith is the official title of Episode II.
DJ: Well, why don't you give us something else?
C: The level of violence, and even the sexual content of the movie, is much more explicit than I ever thought I would see in a Star Wars movie. Now granted these movies will be PG or PG-13, there is no doubt it will be PG-13, but some of the stuff I saw--and I know with filmmaking you go as far as you can go and you can always take it back in the editing room--but some of the stuff they were shooting was... I think fans will be really happy to see that this is not the tone of Phantom Menace.
DJ: Because a lot of people were unhappy with the fact that Phantom Menace was kind of infantilized.
C: That was a real prevailing thought about the first movie, and they were right. One thing I will say in George Lucas' defense, he does listen to the fans, and I think George Lucas was very surprised at the negative reaction that Jar Jar Binks got. Is he rectifying that for this film? You bet he is, absolutely.
DJ: What is Lucas like to work with?
C: An absolute control freak! Are you asking me if he's a nice man? Is he a...
DJ: Well, is he a nice man?
C: Well, I can probably count the number of full-blown conversations I had with him on one finger. But I will say, again in his defense, he's listening more to other people on this film. He didn't leave the job of writing the movie to himself. But the most important thing is... I was privy to a conversation with Francis Ford Coppola, who is a longtime friend of George Lucas. Coppola was discussing this whole sort of breed of younger filmmakers, like Quentin Tarantino, and Paul Thomas Anderson, and the great energy and grittiness they had in their films. And I have to say the footage in this movie has that influence. It is a much grittier film. The word gritty doesn't even apply to Phantom Menace. DJ: Now when you say "gritty"... I can't even picture a gritty Star Wars. C: Well, there's nothing gritty about Star Wars, but if you go back to Episode IV and conjure up images of Obi-Wan Kenobi slicing off a guy's arm in the Cantina, or Uncle Owen and Aunt Baru lying scorched on the sand after the stormtrooper attack... the stuff that I've seen, some of the scenes that I worked on effects-wise were far grittier than that.