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Thursday, May 13, 2021

'Good Characters, Good Plot, Good Story'

“When I was making ‘Star Wars’ I wasn’t restrained by any kind of science.  I simply said, ‘I’m going to create a world that’s fun and interesting, makes sense, and seems to have a reality to it.’” – George Lucas

 May 14 is the birthday of one of America’s greatest filmmakers.  But long before Lucas became obsessed with filmmaking, he wanted to be a race car driver, and he spent most of his high school years street racing and hanging out at garages.  But after he was nearly killed in a racing wreck in 1962 he lost interest in the sport and switched his focus to …. Anthropology, Sociology and Archaeology.   T
hat early passion played a huge part in his later creation of one of the most successful of all of his film endeavors and characters, Indiana Jones.

After dabbling in the social sciences, Lucas turned to art, deciding that being an illustrator was what he really was meant to do.  Fortunately for everyone who’s ever marveled at his films, that meant he had to take a course in photography.  He loved it, and after completing the course at Modesto Junior College, he transferred to the University of Southern California into what he thought was a major in photography.  But the “film” program into which he enrolled was, of course, filmmaking.

“Little did I know that it was a program that taught you how to make movies,” he said.   “It never occurred to me that I would have an interest in filmmaking.”  Fortunately it did and he did and the rest, as they say…
   For Lucas the process of good filmmaking includes writing the story.  One of my all-time favorite films is his American Grafitti, the semi-autobiographical, award-winning, coming of age story set in the 1960s.  His script, which won the Golden Globe for Best Writing, gave the world one of the definitive pieces on American culture and how American teenagers coped with life’s choices in that time.  In 1995, the Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. 

“Writing a good story,” Lucas said, “is simply the process of creating good characters and putting them into a good plot.” 


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