Sunday, February 25, 2007

Star Wars: The Next Generation

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The one movie that affected me more then any other is Star Wars. Yes I was and remain a child of George Lucas' imagination. It was 1977, and I turned thirteen. I was prime pickings for a tale of epic proportion where good and evil fought for control of the universe. All my movie going experience never prepared me for what I was about to see. Galaxies, star ships, hyperspace, robots, stormtroopers, and the force all had a serious impact on me. Not only was it a great story, but the effects were revolutionary. It was the effects that lead me down the path to filmmaking. I was already interested in movies, and I was experimenting with my Super-8 camera. I'd film epic battles in my backyard with GI-JOE's battling lizard men. But it was Star Wars that set me on the path in exploring the world of special effects and how they did it all. I found out about mattes, split screens, stop-motion, and miniature photography. I remember my frustration in not getting it right, and wanting to do more. It's when I discovered Single-8 from Fuji camera that I realized what I could do. You see Single-8 could be back wound, so I could shoot mattes and put my miniature spaceships in space and do all kinds of effects.

I would devour any article on filmmaking that I could get my hands on. Even my uncle helped me get more info on how they did certain effects. His company Oxberry which was based in New Jersey made equipment for special effects technicians such as optical printers and animation stands. I even got a chance to meet some effects technicians at a place called the Optical House in NY. While there I exhausted the technicans with my questions about how they did what they did. I even saw them doing an effect for Brian DePalma's "Blow-UP". This would lead to college where I studied film production and eventually my obsession with film as it is today.

So yes here it is almost thirty years to the date when Star Wars premiered, and who do I see watching the movie that inspired me? My own boys! Even today the Star Wars saga inspires. My boys are a bit too young to realize the technical end of filmmaking, but I do get a certain glee of watching them get involved in the story. It's the story that really propels it all. George Lucas may not make another film again, but he will always be a person who inspired a generation, and who keeps on inspiring other generations. Right now for the boys it's fantasy at its best, and their imagination is being cultivated. Imagine a world of storytellers who grew up with the Star Wars saga playing on their local cable channels.

With technology changing year to year who knows what this generation will come up with? Their limits will be the limits to their imaginations, and to think George Lucas may be responsible for paving the way for these future storytellers.

Thanks Mr. Lucas. You constantly invigorate the young & old alike, and for that I'm eternally grateful.

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