This month, myself and 24 lucky bloggers were invited to San Francisco for an epic Strange Magic Event at Skywalker Ranch. Little did we know, in the midst of our trip, dreams would come true as it was announced we would also be interviewing Executive Producer George Lucas. Yes, GEORGE LUCAS!!!! (You should have heard us girls scream on the bus!)
Before we knew it, what was supposed to be a simple interview session with Executive Producer George Lucas quickly turned into an exciting morning with George Lucas, as he screened his latest film ‘Strange Magic' with us (that's him in the photo below just two rows back and two seats over from me), his first time viewing the completed movie as I understand, plus he took photos with our group and spoke candidly about his new movie, relationships, and parenting, everything mom-bloggers love to talk about.
George Lucas (Executive Producer/Story By) devotion to timeless storytelling and cutting-edge innovation has resulted in some of the most successful and beloved films
of all time. Lucas transformed an award-winning student film into his fi rst feature, “THX 1138” (1971). His second feature film, “American Graffiti ” (1973), was the first film
of its kind to tell multiple stories through interweaving narratives backed by a soundtrack of contemporary music.
It was Lucas’ third film, 1977’s “Star Wars,” that changed everything, breaking all box-offi ce records and setting new standards for sophistication in film visuals and sound. The film garnered eight Academy Awards® and inspired a generation of young people to follow their imagination and dreams.
Lucas has been the storywriter and executive producer of a series of box-offi ce hits beginning with the continuation of the “Star Wars” saga: “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “Return of the Jedi” (1983). He created classic adventurer Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984), “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008), a cinematic franchise that has won eight Academy Awards®. Later, a television series, “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles,” was honored with 12 Emmy® Awards.
The first in the series of our Strange Magic interviews features Executive Producer George Lucas, where we discuss love, relationships, parenting, and the inspiration behind the latest musical, animated comedy from Lucasfilm Ltd. Directed by Gary Rydstrom (“Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation,” “Lifted”), from a story by George Lucas. ‘Strange Magic' opens in theaters everywhere January 23, 2015.
Interview: Executive Producer George Lucas
Q: About Strange Magic, can you tell us a little bit about why you wanted to make this film?
George Lucas: It started quite a while ago, about 15 years ago, and I just had the idea that it would be fun. I love to do musicals using my favorite music, so it kinda harkens back to my pre-Star Wars days. I thought it would be fun to make a film that was more for tween girls than Star Wars, which is for tween boys, even though in the end everybody loved it, girls loved it. So I'm hoping that this one, even though it's more teen girl-centric, it will engage all the boys and everybody will like it.
The idea of an upbeat, fun, simple, movie just appealed to me. I'd finished all the Star Wars and everything, and I was producing films but, I wanted to do one that I could actually get my hands dirty.
We started with a small group here, designing things, doing animation tests, and doing this, and so it went on for years and years and years. I was kind of doing it on the side and it kept growing, and it's one of those fun movies. I loved doing it because I love the music. I love coming to work on it. I love watching it, which is the key in the end for me. Just it's something I did for the fun of it.
Q: I love watching it too. I told Gary every time I watch it I always cry, and I don't know how many times I've seen it. We were talking the other day, and I remember you said that the film is about how everyone deserves to be loved. I think that that's so true. How did that theme emerge for you? Did it emerge when you had the idea, or was it more in the process?
George Lucas: The original process was to make a movie that is the difference between being infatuated and being truly in love. Since being infatuated ultimately is about surface value, and being really in love is about interior issues. I wanted to make a movie about how it's very easy to be infatuated with somebody.
People are infatuated with boy bands, beautiful people, and all the things you read in the magazines, but in the end, from experience, you don't really want to be married to somebody like that. You really don't want to spend the rest of your life-like that, and you really aren't going to have a serious, deep relationship with somebody like that. They have a tendency to be with somebody else like that, which means that they [relationships] usually don't last very long.
As a result, it [Strange Magic] was to say, and especially for young girls who are prone to infatuations, to say it's not always the cutest guy in class that you really want to be out with.
Then as I moved along, for me personally, I had been a bachelor for 20 [years] and I said I'll never fall in love again. It's just not going to happen. I was the old-old cranky Bog King.
And then I found somebody who doesn't look at all like me. I'm a 60s radical, government unhappy, Wall Street-hating person from San Francisco, and I ended up meeting a woman who's a head of a big investment management firm, who's on Wall Street. It's the last person you would figure that would fall in love with the bog king, or that I'd fall in love with her since I'm not into princesses.
Q: …a beautiful princess too actually.
George Lucas: Yeah, now I got a princess and I got a little princess, and my other princesses who have gone on to bigger and better things. So as time went on it [Strange Magic] became more meaningful to me because I realized that in the end, like with my wife and myself, we fell in love because we were exactly alike inside. It's like the movie, first you say well, I hate this stuff, then you're surprised and you realize that you have so much in common that you would never have thought of on the surface.
It's the same thing again with Roland, you know the classic pretty boy, that story has been told over and over and over again, but at the same time it needs to be retold. It's the same thing I did when I started doing Star Wars and thinking about mythological motifs, and the fact that kids need to at 12 years old.
To me adolescence is a key period in a child's life, and to make movies that say look, these are the issues, they may seem obvious to us because we've been through it. Maybe your parents have told you about this, maybe they haven't, but you need to know the story of why you have friendships and what a friendship means, why there are things in the world that are bigger than you are, why you have complicated feelings with your parents, and all these kinds of things are not unusual. They're not just you, this is something that everybody goes through.
So this is kind of the same thing. I won't call it a myth because I beat that one to death with Star Wars, but this is a fairytale. Same thing only much sweeter.
Q: With Strange Magic, especially talking about your relationship with your daughters and stuff, it seems like it's very much inspired by your children. How does being a parent inspire you with all your stories?
George Lucas: I'm a big parent person, kid person. I didn't think much about kids when I was working a lot, I'll have kids when I'm ready. Then, when my then-wife and I decided to have kids, we tried and we couldn’t. In the end I ended up adopting kids. The first one I adopted with my wife but within a short time we got divorced, but when I was walking through the hospital with her, you know she was a couple of hours old, it was like lightning struck me. I've never had an experience like that ever, and the magic of it hit me.
So I was raising my daughter and then my daughter said well I, we want to, she always wanted a brother, and she said I want to have a brother. I knew how to adopt, I had become a sort of adoption specialist for all my friends because I'd adopted her. So, I got talked into having another one.
You have one [child] and you say oh God, she's walking now, she's talking, she's doing this, and the only way you can do it again is if we have another one. It gets better and better, until obviously they become teenagers. They're programmed to be obnoxious, and that's the only way you can get rid of them, otherwise you would baby them for the rest of their lives. I went through three of them and then wanted to have another one. I forgot, it's like pregnancy I guess, you forget.
You forget what they were like as teenagers, and you say oh, but they're so cute I want another one. So I ended up having another one, and this one, because of technology and everything, I was able to have a natural baby.
Q: My favorite part is the redemption at the end. You might go through something really terrible, but you can be surprised and find healing around the corner from the most unexpected experience and the most unexpected person.
George Lucas: There's an issue on this one which is why I made it for older kids. That doesn't mean it's like Star Wars, five-year olds watch Star Wars, and you have people with their faces burned off crawling up volcanoes and things, and the kids seem to somehow survive it. One of the things, especially for young girls, is to be brave.
That's a key element. In the end princesses are brave. Especially Marion, she goes from being a princess who's afraid of the dark force, to somebody who is actually facing things that are scary, and getting through them.
Continue with part 2 of our interview with Executive Producer George Lucas, where we talk music, an integral part in the latest musical, animated comedy from Lucasfilm Ltd. here.
About Strange Magic
“Strange Magic,” a new animated film from Lucasfilm Ltd., is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion. Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and Industrial Light & Magic bring to life the fanciful forest turned upside down with world-class animation and visual effects. Directed by Gary Rydstrom (“Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation,” “Lifted”) from a story by George Lucas, “Strange Magic” will be released by Touchstone Pictures on Jan. 23, 2015.
‘Strange Magic' Official US Trailer
Portions of the material and expenses for this event has been provided courtesy of Walt Disney Studios, all opinions are my own.