I was not alone. The collective consciousness of America had been changed and, the way that I could tell, was that it hadn't happened over night. It was like a heavy freight train that was starting to roll from a complete stop to an acceleration rate that threatened to derail it. I'm speaking, of course, of the impact that STAR WARS had on the United States and then, the world.
|Proof positive that you don't need Photoshop to sell a good movie|
Now, unless you are disinterested in Special Effects, which would make your reading this blog just plain silly, or you are from another planet, I don't have to tell you what a visual feast the original STAR WARS was (and in my opinion, still is). From the very opening shot, I knew that I was in for the cinematic ride of my life.
|Look, Ma! No CGI!|
|Mine has a rectangular hole in it now.|
|One of the single greatest issues of any magazine, ever!|
I saw Star Wars in the theater 22 times. No, really. I would go to the Westside Cinema in the morning and sit through three showings and go home in the evening. I was that obsessed. And, you should see my copy of the Cinefantastique Magazine above...wait...you know what? I'll show you what kind of condition it is in today:
|A much loved, read, and reread magazine.|
Now, when my family or friends of my parents would ask me what I wanted to do when I got out of college, I would no longer answer "paleontologist", I would now answer "Motion Picture Special Effects." The shift was complete.
But this was not the end of the year 1977. It didn't begin and end with STAR WARS. For one, there was a short article in the front of the Star Wars Cinefantastique about a modest Science Fiction film entitled LASERBLAST. Although I could tell it wasn't going to be as huge (ha!) as Star Wars, I loved the designs of Dave Allen's Stop Motion aliens.
|I was still a sucker for this aesthetic|
Back at home, I began painting acrylic paintings of all of the scenes of Star Wars that I loved: X-Wing fighters, R2-D2, and the Escape Pod tumbling toward the planet Tatooine. And finally, because this film had kicked open the door of interest about how Special Effects were accomplished, the information didn't just flow...it was a DELUGE both on page and on television.
By mid-summer of '77, I began hearing about a new film by the director of JAWS, Steven Spielberg. Shrouded in secrecy, all anyone knew was that it was about UFO's and was entitled CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. All anyone saw were photos of people wearing sunglasses and looking into the sky and this poster:
|Incredible marketing. What was just down that road? We HAD to know!|
My father brought home a laminated two-sheet sized poster of the Star Wars poster pictured at the top of this post that hung on my wall until I left for college in 1980. I have no idea what I did with it.
Although he was off of Fox's list, he was in GOOD terms with the folks at Columbia Pictures and was sent out on a junket for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. He interviewed Steven Speilberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon, and Special Effects Artist Douglas Trumbull. Columbia not only gave him a folio with color-coded, empty, audio cassette tapes, they also gave him a mini-cassette tape recorder with the CE3K logo on the side of it.
When he returned from the junket, he was tired and a bit miffed....at Douglas Trumbull. After the interview, my father had told Mr. Trumbull of my passion for Special Effects and had asked him for an autograph. "I don't give autographs." Mr. Trumbull told my father. This set dad off. "Who do you think YOU are?" he asked, "You should be thankful that anyone even WANTS your autograph." .....uh.....way to go, Dad.
Again, TIME Magazine had the scoop and revealed the first images of the Mother Ship from CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and it was so UNLIKE anything I had seen in STAR WARS.
|Even seeing it, I didn't understand what I was looking at...|
Last but not least, my parents were friends with a family in New Orleans named The Bishops and their son, Shawn, had been cast in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. We all got together the night of the advanced screening of the movie and I sat next to Shawn who would point out the tiny moving "stars" in the night skies prior to the big UFO reveal in the film.
And then...the Mother Ship rose up from behind Devil's Tower...
And then, just like that, my ambitions changed...I didn't want to do Special Effects anymore...I wanted to DIRECT!