Creative team behind Star Wars still flying high

| 07/07/2016
CNS Local Life

CayFilm director Tony Mark introduces members of the panel ‘protected’ by storm troopers

(CNS): The Cayman International Film Festival featured something for everyone with its variety of screenings, question-and-answer sessions and workshops, but one series of panels arguably drew the most interest and excitement. Over the course of CayFilm, both fans and filmmakers sat in on hours of seminars with the industry professionals responsible for two of the most popular movie franchises ever made – Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

The sessions featured stunt coordinator Paul Weston, sound effects editor Ben Burtt, model maker and special effects artist Lorne Peterson, special effects artist George Gibbs, and producer Robert Watts.

On the final day of the festival, attendees were treated to a screening of Elstree 1976, a documentary looking at the people wearing the masks and helmets in Star Wars, including David Prowse, who played Darth Vader, and Jeremy Bulloch, who played Boba Fett and attended CayFilm.

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(L-R, sitting) Members of the Star Wars crew Paul Weston, Ben Burtt and Lorne Peterson with (standing) Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter

Then, the crew and Bulloch took part in a panel, where they clearly had fun recounting tales and taking questions from the audience and moderator Borys Kit, senior film correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter.

At their individual sessions and in the group panel, each of these talented men addressed packed rooms of people eager for behind-the-scene stories about the making of these famous movies. Among the many tales shared was Oscar-winner Burtt (who Watts pointed out is the only person in the film industry who won an Academy Award for the first movie he ever worked on) describing how he created the now-iconic sound of the light sabre


and the vocals of Chewbacca.


Oscar-winner Gibbs was the only panel member who didn’t work on Star Wars, but he was responsible for the famous mine-cart chase scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Peterson, also an Oscar winner, designed Han Solo’s ship, the Millenium Falcon, which he said was “not only iconic but one of the first ones I ever did”. He added that the beat-up look of the ship was due to the vision of director George Lucas. “He wanted a used universe,” Peterson said.

Watts said Star Wars was the film that “totally to change my life and I think it changed the lives of all of us involved in it … It was an amazing experience doing the film.”

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Producer Robert Watts

He recounted how he believed in the movie but a lot of people didn’t, including film studio 20th Century Fox, who hated it. “As a result they gave us no money and no time to make it in. When it opened, their price on Wall Street doubled, so ‘Hello, 20th Century’,“ the producer said with a big grin, as he held up his middle finger.

In addition to the group session offering a great opportunity for fans and students of film to pick the brains of a remarkable collection of movie experts, Watts called the chance to visit with the crew a “lovely reunion for us guys from Star Wars. I don’t think I’ve had so many of us (together before) and I’m sorry that Anthony Daniels (who played C3PO) or any of the others couldn’t make it because they’re shooting the next Star Wars.

“I’ve seen some good old friends that I’ve worked with. It really is such a pleasure … We’re just a bunch of kids really. That’s why we got into the movie business, because we never grew up.”

He drove home that point again at the closing ceremony. When he accepted his lifetime achievement award, he told those gathered, “If anybody asks me how old I am, I’ll say about 12 years of age, with 78 years of life experience.”

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Category: Film

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