I was born in Austin, Texas right in the middle of the twentieth century. Not much happened until I was 25 and George Lucas gave me a job designing spaceships. Well, that’s not entirely true. My bicycle got stolen when I was ten. It was an old second-hand three speed bike that my father picked up at a garage sale for a few bucks. Why would someone steal something so worthless to anyone but me? I’m still hoping to find the thief.
Go on Google Earth and look at the house you grew up in. If you’re over forty, you’ll barely recognize it. In my case, everything looked smaller than I’d remembered it, and all my best trees were gone, replaced by native plantings that didn’t need much water. I had a giant eucalyptus tree in the backyard of my house on Naples Street that I hung a hammock in, fifty feet off the ground. I’d sleep up there on windy nights. That was the other great thing about growing up in the fifties and sixties. Parents didn’t worry about us. You’re all sick of hearing this, I’m sure, but in the summer we left the house in the morning and showed up at dinnertime. Blah blah blah. But we all survived childhood and our parents were happy and oblivious. How terrifying to be an eight year old today.
It’s an interesting perspective to see something like the original Star Wars trilogy from the inside. You don’t really get a sense of how the world sees it. Only recently, through the fullness of time have I been able to see the experience in retrospect and understand my own involvement. I can honestly say, thank the universe I didn’t know what I was doing. With any kind of creative endeavor that requires you to make a thousand decisions an hour based on your evolving sense of aesthetics you can never know exactly what you’re going to do next. Seeing the future and holding it in a death grip is a recipe for mediocrity.
When someone asks me about my “vision” on a film I’m directing, I look at them with what I hope is a slightly confused expression and say, “I don’t have a vision. What are you talking about? What do you mean, vision?” It’s especially fun when it’s a producer asking the question. They get nervous. Of course it’s a good idea to have in your mind the version of the film you’d most want to see. But everything that happens, the most minute and trivial occurrence will change the dynamic of the image and sound you’re trying to capture. Don’t fight it. You’ll lose.
I like machines that function well and are pleasing to look at. When I was 15 the Porsche 904 came out. I had a model slot car of it. In my opinion it’s the most beautiful car Porsche ever made, but they only made a hundred and sixteen of them. They had to make at least a hundred so they could race them as a production car. Brand new they sold for $7,500. That’s seventy-five hundred dollars. Now, less than sixty years later a restored one can go for $1,200,000. When I was eighteen I saw one in a crummy used car lot in Los Angeles. The guy wanted $12,000 for it. I went home and tried to sound adult and authoritative when I told my dad what a wonderful investment it would be. He laughed in my face as I expected him to. Life is about being in the right place at the right time and having the right amount of money in your pocket. But then again with enough money the time and place will come to you.
I admire people who have the courage to say, “I don’t know.”
What happened to all the really great surplus stores?