George Lucas officially opened the $350 million Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco's Presidio last weekend. It represents the culmination of a 30-year revolution Lucas has led in digital filmmaking, and it also marks the beginning of his post-"Star Wars" career as a writer, director and producer. During our conversation, Lucas confirmed there will be a long-rumored fourth installment in the "Indiana Jones" series, talked about his antipathy for Hollywood and revealed that Anakin Skywalker wasn't really quoting President Bush in "Revenge of the Sith." Well, not exactly. Q: This must be an exciting time for you, getting to unveil two projects that have been years in the making within the space of about five weeks. A: I don't know. I'm much more into the making of them than I am the unveiling of them. Q: When you left Los Angeles a generation ago, you were talking about creating an alternative filmmaking community in the Bay Area. Instead, the Letterman Digital Center becomes the jewel in a crown that includes the digital effects company Industrial Light plus Magic, Skywalker Sound, THX, LucasArts, and at one time included your digital animation company Pixar, which you later sold to Steve Jobs. People have referred to you as a visionary, but did you envision yourself leading a technological revolution when you were starting as a documentary filmmaker? A: No, I'm not really a tech guy. I know how to make movies, but I have no idea in the world how to write software or build a computer. But in order to make movies like "Star Wars," you need to move the technology forward. Q: If you had continued making films like "American Graffiti," would the digital revolution ever have happened? A: All art is technology, and there's a constant revision of the way technology allows you to do things. You go from ochre to blue, from blue to royal red, and from painting on walls to paining on canvas. Those are all huge, revolutionary ideas that allowed the artist to think differently. Cinema was a major breakthrough in terms of the arts, and now it's just more malleable than it was. It's not that I invented technology, it's that I said, "We're using all this stuff (in the sciences), why don't we use it over here, too?" Q: After the Letterman Center opens you're going to remain out at Skywalker Ranch, which will make you somewhat remote from your own headquarters. Are you planning to step back from the business? A: Yes. I'm basically retiring. I've done my bit and I'm going to be there to help them along, but basically they're on their own now. I'm going to be off making movies. Q: You've been famously remote from Hollywood. When you say the Bay Area has become the center of digital filmmaking, do you take a certain amount of pride in that? A: Yeah, I do. I'm very much for people making films in their own area without having to move to Hollywood. It makes films more diverse. I think we've done a lot of important work here, and I'm proud of it. I'm especially proud of the fact that we have been very innovative in moving into the future of cinema, which is digital. When I first decided to put my name in the hat for the Presidio, part of it was because I felt very strongly about the Presidio because I grew up here. I didn't want that to be turned into a real estate development. And I thought it would be a very good thing for a national park to have a symbol of the fact that digital arts started in San Francisco. This is where it all began. Q: You've talked about making more personal films when the "Star Wars" saga was over. You have the means and the opportunity to do anything you want now. How do you decide what to do next? A: I'm going to produce the new "Indiana Jones" film, I'm going to produce a film called "Red Tails" about African-American fighter pilots. I'm also helping get an animated TV series about "Star Wars" called "Clone Wars" off the ground. We're also working on an animated movie and another "Star Wars" live-action TV series that has to do with some of the minor characters. So I have a full plate of stuff that's been sitting around. It's like cleaning your closet. I'm going to spend a year to 18 months getting all these things going, and then I'm going to start writing my own more adventurous, experimental films, which probably will not be as popular as the kind of work I've done in the past. But I like it. Q: Do you ever see yourself working in Hollywood? A: Hollywood lives in a very isolated community. Because I'm in San Francisco, everybody says, "Oh yeah, he's a hermit, he's like a recluse up there. He doesn't see anybody or do anything." But the truth is, I just don't see those reporters or go to all those parties down in Hollywood. I live in San Francisco, which obviously is the end of the earth. They think of me as being reclusive, but I think of them as being very reclusive. I mean, they live in this little community where they only talk to themselves. They've got a big white wall with ivory towers around it, and they all just sit in there and talk to each other, and go to the same parties together and do everything together. Q: A lot of people felt that in "Revenge of the Sith," Anakin's line to Obi Wan, "If you're not with me, then you are my enemy" was a reference to George Bush's threat to the rest of the world after 9/11. A: Yeah, the film got boycotted by the right wing. They came out against us on their blogs. Q: Oh, it really seems to have hurt you at the box office. A: Actually, it did affect us in the South a little bit. That's not like an original line, you know. That's been said many, many times before in history. It's not like Bush suddenly owns it. The line was actually written before Bush even said it. I wouldn't call Bush that creative in the way he writes his speeches. He's not a Kennedy, or an FDR, or a Lincoln, that's for sure.
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Published by RoguE_Jedi 14 years ago , last updated 2 years ago
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