View Full Version : ILM's Mark Austin speaks out here on SSG

12-01-2001, 02:15 AM
Check out this awesome interview (http://www.figures.com/Features/index.html?show_article=28329&dom=ss) SSG's very own Grand Admiral Thrawn got with Mark A. Austin (Boba Fett and Head of Creature Effects on ANH:SE), it's a great read!

I'm very surprised to see some of the comments he made about the Special Editions and the prequels, especially after McCallum and Lucas made such huge deals about those very same things - they made it seem like the special editions were such incredible perfection and everything was so high-tech and smooth, when the reality sounds very much different. It's too bad Skywalker Ranch works this way, it seems very much like the accusations Palpatine makes of the Galactic Senate.

12-01-2001, 02:38 AM
BTW I have had your site bookmarked for the last 4 years.

I wonder how much you paid him to say that ;) :rolleyes:

Rollo Tomassi
12-01-2001, 02:42 AM
That was pretty cool. I guess Mark knows better than George what's best for the saga...I mean soap opera...

12-01-2001, 02:58 AM
All I can say after reading that interview is "Wow." Not a good "wow" or a bad "wow," just "wow."

One comment that stuck out for me was his statement about how GL is surrounded by "yes men." This IS the number one reason why I believe TPM failed. But when you compare production on TPM to the original, I believe that most of the problems arise when no one wants to say to Lucas that this or that is not a good idea. As opposed to the originals, ANH in particular since that is the only one he directed, that back in '76, GL was a "nobody" for the most part, and the actors and producers, and so forth gave a lot of input. Where as now, its Lucas word goes.

I enjoyed the movie for the most part, but I took a lot of it with a "grain of salt" so to speak. I didn't go into the theater with high hopes, which is probably why I'm one of the few who actually enjoy TPM. I look forward to the remaining films, and to GL completing his story. But I think we need to realize now that because of GL's reputation and characteristics, he's changing a lot of what SW is to fit his own wants and desires which have developed in the 25+ years since he started.

That whole interview reminds me of the book "Empire Building." For those of you who are unfamiliar, its the "true life story of the making of Star Wars." All the dirt and scandals Lucasfilm doesn't want you to hear. For those of you who are now disillusioned with SW in general and believe that the "magic is gone" so to speak, I strongly recommend it.

12-01-2001, 11:16 AM

I really have nothing to say, other than this changes the way I will look at Lucas and ILM forever. I had been considering applying for a job there when I got out of the Army; but why trade one narrow-minded, "yes-man" job for another?

12-01-2001, 02:41 PM
At least he's not bitter about it all......... :p

the way he describes Lucas walking round like an out of touch monarch reminds me of that scene in TIME BANDITS where John Cleese as robin hood wanders along the row of little people and says "So you're all bandits are you? Jolly good" as though he realy has no idea what a bandit really is or does but thinks it sounds like jolly good fun. Crap analogy but you get my drift... :rolleyes: Lucas = ivory tower.:greedy:

12-01-2001, 05:57 PM
Ahhh yes. Lucas becoming an out of touch movie mogul. Since when does fame and fortune NOT make you out of touch? :)

Bel-Cam Jos
12-01-2001, 09:53 PM
So one person who doesn't work for ILM anymore proves Lucas is out-of-touch, letting success go to his head? I don't buy that. Good interview, Thrawn, but I am one of those SW fans that takes "insider" gripes with a grain of salt.

12-01-2001, 10:02 PM
I found it very interesting... Good job Thrawn!

12-01-2001, 10:50 PM
hey jargo,

i liked your other photo a lot better. it was really cool looking. no foolin':)

if lucas is surrounded by yes men, it's because that is what he wants. and i believe ILM-er john knoll did express his displeasure with thing like the casting of jake lloyd, among other things. i read this was in the documentary, but edited out.

i think this guy being interviewed was in a no win situation. if he says lucas film is the best place ever, he'll come off as a kiss-***.
if he's critical, he a disgruntled employee.

Rollo Tomassi
12-01-2001, 11:11 PM
Originally posted by Bel-Cam Jos
So one person who doesn't work for ILM anymore proves Lucas is out-of-touch, letting success go to his head? I don't buy that. Good interview, Thrawn, but I am one of those SW fans that takes "insider" gripes with a grain of salt.

I agree with BelCam. What makes this guy an authority? Who said he wasn't fired for ineptitude? I'm not saying he was, but we are only getting one side of the story. And it's the disgruntled ex-employee side. Hardly unbiased...

12-01-2001, 11:21 PM
Originally posted by Rollo Tomassi

I agree with BelCam. What makes this guy an authority? Who said he wasn't fired for ineptitude? I'm not saying he was, but we are only getting one side of the story. And it's the disgruntled ex-employee side. Hardly unbiased...

I was thinking the same thing at first, but I've heard this story too many times before to think that all of it is false. Being stuck in a job were no one appreciates your talents and all your bosses are idiots is one I can totally relate to.

12-02-2001, 11:38 PM
They are just his opinions, but I too have heard rumblings like this before about LFL and you can see it a little when you watch the documentaries about the SEs and the Prequels.

I think it was a really enlightening interview, and I also think it's interesting that the Jabba sequence was done nearly 2 years before the film was released.

12-03-2001, 08:30 AM
it may be interesting that jabba was created two years before the release of the special edition, but i'm not suprised. it looks horrible. i'm just amazed this is the same company that created the dinos in jurassic park in 1990-91(?).

12-04-2001, 01:58 AM
To GNT - you should change your name to GNSAI - Gasgano never said anything intelligent.

To JT – thanks as always.

To Rollo – Which do you prefer the official star wars site or fan sites?

Wolfwood319 said “This IS the number one reason why I believe TPM failed…which is probably why I'm one of the few who actually enjoy TPM.”

I guess you are saying Episode I is the Plan 9 from Outer Space of Star Wars? I would agree except Plan 9 was written better.

To Bigbarada – Sounds like you realize the truth. ILM – Industrialized and lacks magic.

To Emperor Jargo – Right. Lucas is like a band that made one too many albums before they called it quits.

To Bel-Cam Jos – Thanks. But I say the turnover rate at Lucasfilm is like Wal*Mart, close to 100% - only 1 employee works there from the original SW – seems like Lucas doesn’t inspire loyalty.

To SirSteve- Thanks, wanted to surprise you.

To Derek – Keep the faith!

12-04-2001, 03:58 AM
Originally posted by Thrawn
To GNT - you should change your name to GNSAI - Gasgano never said anything intelligent.

:rolleyes: It doesnt have a ring to it like "GNT" does :)

El Chuxter
12-04-2001, 10:56 AM
Very well done interview, Thrawn. It confirms a lot of suspicions regarding yes-men in the LFL organization that I've had since viewing the SE's.

Sounds like Lucas has a case of inflated ego. One reason the CT was so good is that he wasn't the only person working on it. Had he been, ANH would have been so full of silly humor and stuff that doesn't belong that the other two would never have existed! I wish someone on the SE's or TPM had had the guts (or brains) to say something like, "George, don't you remember that you insisted on Jabba being skinny in ANH:SE? He can't be fat thirty years before that," or "Fart jokes aren't funny. If you want humor, less Jar Jar, more C-3PO and Obi-Wan," or even, "Vader made C-3PO before his voice cracked? Give me the car keys, George. You need some help."

Hopefully, George will realize he is fallible; that the opinion of yes-men is worthless; that no one believes his "revisionist history" of how he came up with this saga; and that if one fan complains, he might be a crackpot, but if all of them complain, maybe he should listen--at least by the time E3 goes into production!

12-04-2001, 11:28 AM
He-ey! This guy animated Aladar! Hee hee! I loved Disney's Dinosaur! He did such a great job on Aladar too! :D

Uh...back to Star Wars...yeah...what he said was shocking to me too. Almost disturbing. Now I truly wonder what the fate our beloved classic trilogy will be in the future.... :(

12-06-2001, 07:48 AM
something that wories me a lot is that Lucas said in a recent interview how he's already shot extra footage to be slotted into the next 'special' editions of the OT to link all six movies more clearly. Hmmm, does this mean more condescending extrapolation of themes and ideas we're deemed too thick to grasp? yes it's more midichlorians I'm afraid. Midichlorians for all.
if it's just vistas of somewher like Alderaan then i have no problem because I've been itching to see the planet since they blew it up in 77. I hope in my heart that he actually has the sense to listen to at least some of the critiscisms - the constructive and objective ones, and stop tinkering.
If he classes himself as an artist of some sort then he must learn as all artists must to simply let go and leave well alone or end up gilding the lily. he could quite feasibly completely destroy any worth in the movies by revisionist deletion and substitution. that sort of thing has trashed many a classic movie. perhaps he hopes to create the definitive version before he dies in order to put paid to a remake by a less talented and unscrupulous money grabbing film maker fresh out of film school.......

It's a shame there are fewer people like Mark who are prepared to go the extra mile for something they believe in working at ILM.
Being able to stand up to Management and say no to bad policy is to be applauded. george may have a vision but if his vision is clouded by gushy acceptance of bad ideas he'll never learn the difference between what the people who watch the movies really think of them and what his yes men think he wants to hear.

12-06-2001, 10:40 AM
Part 2 of this interview has been added! Check it out:

12-06-2001, 10:45 AM
Lucas' bizarre sense of humor has existed since the filming of ANH. The rough cut of the film had some "comedy" scenes that prompted the studio to try to take control of the movie out of GL's hands and give it to a more 'talented' director. Only after much pleading that he could do much better if given a second chance was GL able to retain control of the film and proceed with many revisions.

I've heard this in a few different sources, including a feature on the Star Wars: Rough Cut in the Insider and the George Lucas: The Creative Impulse filmography/biography.

12-06-2001, 10:51 AM
Ugh, take all the violence out of the detention block scene? They were storming a prison level for crying out loud!!:mad: I'm hoping GL doesn't reconsider this for the inevitable re-release of ANH. He's completely neutering these films.

12-06-2001, 11:56 AM
I think that whole take the violence out of the prison level scene was more of a censory deboggle than a creative one. If you ever watched the originals and special editions at the same time, you'll see the way the edited the SE, that there are a lot less scenes of stormtroopers getting shot/killed.

The reason for this is because of the times we live in. Back in '77, there wasn't as much of a need to regulate what violence kids saw because they, for the most part, had the common sense to realize that it was a movie. Now a days, with the ever present real life violence we see everyday, everybody's taken on the job to make sure that what kids see is all censored and violence-free. The best example of this is TPM. I'm sure one of the main reasons for the whole Trade Federation army consisted of robots was to make it less violent. On one hand you have jedis cutting through robots, on the other, you have jedis cutting through people. Now, TPM did have its share of violence, like Maul's and Qui Gon's deaths, but imagine if all the droids they killed were people.

Until we live in a more peaceful and civilized age...

12-06-2001, 02:13 PM
First, I want to say that it was a great interview.

I'm also feeling somewhat vindicated after reading what Mark had to say. I distinctly recall being continually chastised for suggesting that George Lucas had made some poor choices and that he should be allowed to do what he wanted. Amazingly enough, I'm seeing many of my own previous comments showing up in many of these posts.

I think that the overriding point, as it has to do with Star Wars, is the issue of success and power. Almost without exception, you can take a look at various filmographies from different filmmakers and see how their work suffers the longer they continue on. The success breeds a kind of "hand's-off" attitude towards the filmmaker and less and less resistance is applied toward the creative work. Put simply, in order to keep their jobs on "great" and "big" projects, it's easier to say "yes" than to question the boss.

It takes strong character to recognize when one is surrounded by yes-men, especially in the film business, where most of the decisions revolve around subjective creativity. For those on the outside, it might seem strange that you couldn't put your hand up and interject your 2 cents. From personal experience, I'll tell you, that unless you are A) the director, or B) one of the principal actors, you are pretty much looked down upon as one of the many small and expendable cogs in the machine. Actually worse than that, it is a genuine surprise for many "creative" types to find out that we "merely technical" people on the crew have good creative ideas as well. There are some enlightened producers and directors out there that realize their infallibility and welcome any input that will make the project a better one.

This isn't to say that everyone should open their mouth with every great idea that they have. A movie is an enormous undertaking and it is entirely impractical to put every decision up to a vote. Somebody has to be in charge. However, as we've all seen, and Mark has pointed out so well, there are inherent creative pitfalls that come with unlimited success.

I too shudder at the thought of being introduced to every damned character from the OT and being force-fed their life history. It's refreshing to hear that many concerns of ours were "rumblings" at the time they were conceived at the Ranch. It's still a great business to be in. It beats sitting at a desk all day. But it's extremely important to recognize your place in it, whether technical, creative, or business. That's the only thing that will keep you sane.

12-06-2001, 02:50 PM
I see nothing wrong with Lucas adding stuff in that he didn't have time or money to accomplish the first time. However, things like the Greedo shooting first scene are just examples of Lucas second guessing himself.

BTW, stillakid, you were right, I was wrong. So there!:p

12-14-2001, 11:59 PM
Lot of good points being made here, so I'll try and only add 'the new' - save for GREAT INTERVIEW, THRAWN -nice job!

To the Original Trilogy edits - maybe for the DVD he will restore some things like yank Ketwol out, and let Han shoot first. Jabba could be redone in the Docking Bay 94 scene, but the writing was good as was Harrison's performance.

There are no LESS stormtrooper deaths in the SE's than there were in the OT. I dare not admit how many times I've seen these films. Do you want to point out specific scenes?

I don't think they need to edit out violence. Points to the other side go to this: Timothy McVeigh was a Star Wars collector, and Dylan Kleibold and Ed Harris from Columbine were as well. But the majority of us don't go on shooting sprees anyway. (I'd much prefer a lightsaber).

The Droids were not in the movie to lesson the violence, Naboo Soldiers were seen getting shot, and dead Gungans are visible at a distance. The Droids' ineptitude was shown so there would be a REASON for Clone Warriors in the future.

Lucas is probably using E1 and E6 to satisfy the happy-ending bookmarks in the whole saga, as the rest is pretty dark - which is analagous to real for so many of you (but myself as well, so I can't say anything). At its heart, Star Wars is Anakin's (and Luke's) tragedy - but in order for it to become sad and escape from that emotion as well, there has to be some highs before the lows.

12-16-2001, 07:23 AM
You can count on one hand the number of dead humans in Ep 1, and "at a distance" dead gungans don't count for squat.

12-16-2001, 09:53 AM
Just a matter of opinion, but I thought that Ford's performance was atrocious in the Docking Bay scene. He came off as if he knew that the Jabba guy would be replaced and somehow his performance would be altered too, or something. The whole thing was pretty bad all around.

As far as the violence, it's painfully obvious to the rest of the world at how Lucas has continually shyed away from perceived bloodshed. Look at the differences between ANH and ROTJ. One of the first sequences we ever see in a Star Wars movie shows scores of humans getting blown away and falling dead to the floor.

The mass killing was toned down in ESB, though we caught glimpses of doomed humans in the Hoth scene and of course Vader's body trail.

By ROTJ, the killing was relegated only to "anonymous" Stormtroopers and one Ewok. In fact, it is that Ewok scene which I believe is the impetous for Lucas pulling way back on the shots of living things getting killed. I distinctly remember seeing ROTJ several times in 1983.'84 with theaters full of little kids who at times cried because that disturbed them so much.

So what do we get now? Battalions of impersonal robots getting sliced in half for two hours. If you use a magnifiying glass, you can just make out a scant few Gungans lying dead on the ground. We did get to see Qui Gon get run-through and Maul get sliced in half, but to write off the Battle Droid's presence as being there as a reason for future clone warriors is daft. Any other choice would have included wall to wall bloodshed and p u s s y-daddy-Lucas isn't about to subject his kids to that kind of atrocity.

Bel-Cam Jos
12-16-2001, 09:54 AM
TPM dead humans- Qui-Gon Jinn, the 2 diplomatic cruiser pilots, at least 1 Naboo fighter pilot, and at least 2 Naboo guards. Now I don't know how many fingers your hand has, JT, but... :D

But are were right about one thing, JediTricks; dead Gungans don't wear plaid, I mean were short, no, can't squat and count. Arr! :Pirate: Forget it! ;)

El Chuxter
12-16-2001, 04:10 PM
I think Battledroids were there to diminish perceived violence, but it's less a Lucas issue than an RIAA (?) issue.

Think about it: Lucas wants a PG movie. Period. In 1977, Star Wars could've been either PG or R. Since the Classic Trilogy was completed, there's a new rating to contend with: PG-13. You and I and probably Lucas know that it's a pretty useless rating--how often do you see kids being carded at PG-13 movies?--but for some parents, the perception is that PG-13 movies are somehow worse than PG movies.

For TPM, the heroes had to be Jedi Knights. Jedi Knights use lightsabers. In 1977, Ponda Baba's arm was no problemo for the PG rating. In 1999, Lucas didn't know if he could get away with the bloody cloud around the dismembered Darth Maul, so (as I understand it) he filmed two different versions of that shot.

As it turned out, Maul getting bisected wasn't a problem for the RIAA. But if there were bloody Stormtroopers getting sliced and diced into parts right and left, PG would be impossible. Keep in mind that by the late 1980s, Robocop had to have shots cut from it in order to squeeze by with an R. The industry has become more and more conscious of violence since that time, even. Because as we all know, a lot of kids aren't taught by parents the difference between real and fake, and they're allowed by parents to watch any movie they want to, and someone has to take the blame for the consequences. (And we all know it won't be the parents, noooooooooooooo.)

12-16-2001, 05:57 PM
Good point.

12-17-2001, 12:08 AM
I've heard that Star Wars was originally going to get a "G" rating and Lucas added a little extra violence to make sure the film got the PG rating so parents would go with their kids to see the film.

12-18-2001, 02:19 AM
Violence is almost an emotion we all can share at one point or another. I sometimes fantasize about being a survivor in the Terminator's 'future war,' and feel like I'd be quite comfortable in the post-appocalyptic nightmare (like it wouldn't be a nightmare for me). Should I be PC here (or not) is the question? There are things about my psyche I could reveal...

In any case, I am not concerned about the violence in media. Bring it on. Somehow I feed off it and it makes my blood run hot.

In my mind I know what battles are right and wrong, and by what non-violent means most can be fought. Intellect when cultivated can control primordial instinct. There is a killer's instinct in all of us; then there are some of us who truly can call upon their Dark Side.

Meanwhile, Lucas has SAID the battledroids' ineffectiveness was being demostrated to pave the way for a reason to clone soldiers. If they were just doing that in the first place, one might ask, "In the SW universe where there are so many different kinds of droids, why don't conquerors just BUY their ready-made armies?" Well Nute and Rune just tried that. IF LUCAS IS NOW SOFT ON VIOLENCE, we will not see Clones in Stormtrooper armor hacked up in the next two prequels. If instead, we do see that, the point is disproven and the battledroids bear no standing.

The droids were DIFFERENT and for that much I was thankful for a breath of fresh air. That they were so stupid might not have been necessary, but again the idea was their ineffectiveness, but Lucas thought he had to drive the obvious in over our heads with a sledgehammer, or make it so even children would get it.

Finally - yes, being a father has changed George. I think SW was at least written for him, as an 'adult-child' and thus tapped into what we consider hardcore-fiction. ESB followed in that tradition as it was supposed to be the darkest movie. ROTJ was dark too, in many ways, Luke being pushed to the edge happened at the END of the movie remember? But the Ewoks tuned children in and brought about a gay, almost drunken "happy ending" quality to the trilogy's ending, again over-emphasizing the obvious. However, Vader's funeral pyre scene didn't let that get too out of hand and still kept the Star Wars saga a tragedy thematically.

12-21-2001, 04:58 PM
Originally posted by Utinni

Lucas is a fool.

But he is not as foolish as those in this forum.

Those who argue about a false world, when the real one is right outside their front door.

Those who question the viability of imagination.

Those who naysay anothers dreams.

Yes, Lucas is indeed a fool.

But who is more foolish?

The fool?

Or the fools who follow...:evil:


I'm not one to disparage the opinions or comments of others, but I have to admit that that was one of the dumbest, , most ignorant, psuedo "poetic" things I've read in a long time. The attempt to be profound fell as flat as the point.

Not one person here has called into question the "viability" of imagination nor been the naysayer of others dreams. What has been discussed, however, is the quality of the storytelling and the details to support said arguments.

I've had my friendly disagreements with others here, but I'm positive that any one of them will support me when I say that I'll consider any opinion so long as there is a strong argument to back it up.

You've offered nothing here but gross generalizations based on nothing more than cliches and stolen movie quotes. If you have an opinion to express, here or anywhere else, it might do you credit to first research the topic in depth and then form thoughts of your own that you can bring to the table. Otherwise, you'll be judged to be just as superficial as your opinions, comments, and suggestions appear to be.

Have a wonderful holiday.:happy: