The George Lucas quote above is included in an article by City Guide New York's Linda Sheridan, about the upcoming 60th anniversary of Serendipity 3, "the renowned NYC confectionery and eclectic gift shop."
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This is a question I've been answering for 40 years. I learned a lot from Hitchcock thrillers. He created a grammar of cinema that many of us use, but I have my own way of seeing things.
I seemed to detect references to movies such as Vertigo. Am I wrong?
Do you know how long filmmakers have been filming spiral staircases? This began in silent films, it is the best way to capture someone walking up stairs. Hitchcock used this trick in Vertigo but before that it had been used dozens of times.
One realizes that dreams have a key role in your films ...
The majority of my thoughts occur during dreaming. Our subconscious is always working ...
In Passion there is a smartphone that takes account of the action. Are you a technology fan?
When I was in high school, I built computers, so we already see that my love of technology comes back. Today we walk with iPhones and film everything. Even my kids force me to take pictures of people with whom I speak [pauses to take a picture of the interviewer]. It’s for them to see what their father is doing.
To what extent do you think that technological tools can influence the movies?
When I started we had to raise a lot of money to make a movie. My first feature film cost $100,000, which we got from a rich girl. My second film cost $50,000. It is clear that both were flops. For the third film we raised $20,000. And it was a success. Today people complain about not having money to make films, but anyone can make them. It's all digital, and they can be edited on a computer. And if you cannot get a cast and write a script, it is best to do something else. Today there are no longer those excuses.
Feel part of a generation of filmmakers who changed cinema?
Yes, I am part of a group of filmmakers who arrived when the Hollywood system was ending. We were a little crazy and created sort of strange films like Easy Rider, but they made a lot of money. Suddenly we were considered the leaders of the city.
You began by making a very experimental film. Would you like to have followed this route?
In the beginning we experience everything to realize what we can do. I made a series of documentaries and experimental films, and won several awards. But only with my third film, which was Greetings, did I begin to enter the Hollywood scheme. I made several independent films that nobody remembers. Carrie was my tenth film.
Is it true or is it a myth that you wrote the first lines of the script of Star Wars?
No, I did not write these lines. George Lucas had an intro that was too complicated and I just told him, 'George, I don’t understand anything of what's written here'. So me and a screenwriter simplified the text. I have been accused of being the sarcastic type that made fun of 'The Force' ... It is true that I was always the official 'clown' of that group, but I'm also a good friend of George’s, and was there to help. My biggest contribution was untangling the mess at the beginning.
But it is true that you discovered Robert De Niro. How did that happen?
He came to see me because of an ad I had placed in a magazine to find a person who could project the movies. And he turned out to audition for a film I was doing in a garage. He was just amazing and I hired him. After two films he did some plays with me.
Do you keep in contact?
Not really. I saw him recently at a dinner that George [Lucas] gave. He appeared with his wife.
You have won several awards, but have never been nominated for an Oscar. Is that important to you?
In America the awards are only television shows in which the stars on the red carpet parade. They end up selling clothing and jewelry.
Were you able to anticipate the success of any of your films?
Only with The Untouchables.
Carrie. It was a cheap horror movie that was released on Halloween. Stephen King was not even known. The book did not sell very well and only during the production of Carrie did it become a best seller. But nobody knew who Stephen King was.
Scarface  was another of your great successes. Were you expecting that?
No. When it was shown in Hollywood, people left the room. I thought it would be a massacre. It wasn’t until it reached audiences that I realized it was something that had never been seen before.
Are there any films of yours that are considered special?
Mostly the controversial films. There is much talk of The Godfather, but Coppola had a traumatic experience. He was supposed to be fired almost daily. Dressed to Kill was ravaged by the women’s liberation movement ...
Is it important to shock the audience?
It is important to catch them off guard. It's like taking the rabbit out of the hat and putting it back in the hat when they are not looking.
It's on television that we see some of the finest moments of current fiction. How do you see this?
Television is a medium dominated by producers and screenwriters. [The directors are the types that take the cables the way] ... Look at The Sopranos or Mad Men: they are almost like War and Peace. The characters are developed over years! That is unprecedented.
"We had such a wonderful kind of an incubator in the early '70s. Late '60s/early '70s. I really began directing in '69, that was television, I was 21, but... And I met all these people around that period of time. I met George Lucas in 1967 when we were both in college. I was at Long Beach State, he was at USC. And I met a lot of those fellows in college, and professional life, and it was not a clique, not a 'Brat Pack,' nothing that people claim we were. We were just a bunch of filmmakers that weren't afraid to show our rough cuts to each other, and weren't afraid of that kind of criticism. We weren't afraid of George Lucas or Brian De Palma. I'll never forget the day Brian De Palma and I saw the rough cut of Star Wars. And there were only about six of us in the room. And it was the very first time George had ever showed the picture to anybody, and chose the six of us to show it to. Well, Brian went off the deep end. [Smiling as he playfully imitates De Palma] 'Whaas... Makes no sense! Nonsense! What's this all about?' And through all of the contention of that wild evening where Brian liked the movie, but thought it was sort of mixed up... it was really mixed up, it just didn't have 89 percent of the special effects in them-- who could possibly make head or tails of Star Wars without all those, you know, 500 effects shots? But, Brian's contention did lead to George inventing the now very famous forward, like the old serials, that crawled up the screen. You know, 'A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.' Now that came out of that rough cut screening. You know, and that was exciting to see things like that happen. I sat with Scorsese, in the editing room, heloing him edit the last ten minutes of Taxi Driver. Which is a film totally unlike who I am. But he asked me to come in, and to give my opinion, and to make some comments, and I did. That was fun, you know, we've all helped each other with our movies. The shark blowing up in Jaws was not my idea. It wasn't in the Peter Benchley novel, wasn't in the Peter Benchley screenplay, and the Carl Gottlieb screenplay. It was simply some filmmaker friends of mine who read the script and said, 'The shark's gotta blow up at the end. You've got to find some way to explode it. Not just kill it, it's gotta explode!' And without that kind of, sort of selfless thinking, where the ego is not leading you around by your nostrils, but you're open to pain, and to embarrassment, and to ridicule, and by being open to that with peers that know what it's like to make a movie, that have made movies, that you can respect their word, their critique, so to speak... and it's a great way to work. A great way to make your movies even better."
What Oswalt rambles on about are his ideas for "Star Wars VII," which he hilariously cross-brands with the Marvel universe, as both are now owned by Disney, and also with the mythical figures of Clash Of The Titans. But to start it off, he begins at the beginning:
"We begin with standard title sequence," says Oswalt, "John Williams fanfare, followed by a scrawl to be written-- I would like to mention that Brian De Palma wrote the original opening scrawl for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. I think it would be a nice nod to the franchise if he were to write this opening scrawl."
In fact, it was De Palma and Jay Cocks who rewrote the opening scrawl. When George Lucas showed a rough cut of Star Wars to his friends, he'd had a long scrawl at the beginning that seemed to go on and on. Among the friends at the screening were De Palma, Cocks, and Steven Spielberg. Cocks recalled in the Nov/Dec 2002 issue of Creative Screenwriting that the morning after the screening, "I was sitting in a work room above a garage in [George Lucas'] house with a yellow pad with George and Brian and a couple of other people. Brian said, 'All right Jay, you sit down there at the typewriter. No one understands what this movie is about, we gotta set it up.' What I remember saying is: 'George, you gotta make other people understand this is a fairy tale.' We wrote something that [did] that, and in some form became the prologue to Star Wars or was part of the prologue to Star Wars."
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