I’m apparently so obsessed and/or consumed with George Lucas that I dream of him almost every night. I took a nap this afternoon, and suddenly found myself in a humongous marble hall that clearly didn’t look anything like Skywalker Ranch, but yet was Skywalker Ranch. And George appeared to me as a kind of Mister Rogers, wearing a red checkered shirt, a yellow cardigan, and thin rectangular grandma glasses (complete with beaded eyeglass chains), carrying large expensive vases across the hall. “When is that movie coming out?”, he asked me. “You know… The People vs. Me. I saw the trailer, and it wasn’t all that bad, really. Could’ve been a lot worse.” I didn’t quite know what to respond, because I couldn’t tell if he was toying with me, or genuinely didn’t realize I was the director of the film. He then turned to face me with a smirk, and said “let me know when you’re done with it, and we’ll have a big screening here at the Ranch.” As he walked away carrying two vases almost taller than him, my wife woke me up; and I’m still wondering if this was just a dream, or something else entirely. Wishful thinking? Premonition? A multi-layered metaphor?
Robert and I were in Tokyo last week with David Neptune, our Japanese line producer and interpreter. As much as I wanted to take a little time to visit (I’ve been to Tokyo three times, but never left the airport), we ended up shooting 17 interviews in 7 1/2 days, carrying our equipment up and down the stairs in the massive subway stations during rush hour, and… well… it pretty much ended up being all work. Okay, so I indulged a little and purchased a 1978 Takara Darth Vader at Star Case (where Steve Sansweet apparently does his shopping when he’s in Tokyo) and seven vintage Godzillas at Mandarake and the hard to find Gojira-ya.
But I digress. It all started with Danny Choo (son of world famous shoe designer Jimmy Choo, Sex and the City fans), a.k.a. the Tokyo dancing stormtrooper. Surrounded by his Anime babes (he calls them his daughters), he talked about George’s influence on Japanese pop culture, and compared him to a durian fruit (prickly on the outside, soft on the inside). He donned his stormtrooper outfit and took us to Shibuya, where he danced the night away among throngs of adoring fans. A pretty surreal opener that promptly took care of my jetlag.
During the next few days, we had the privilege to talk to Mr. Hiroaki Takeuchi, one of Japan’s premier producers of Anime (including THE ANIMATRIX), top Anime directors Koji Morimoto and Michael Arias, and maverick Sega game designer and producer Yu Suzuki (who’s so famous in Japan, apparently, that even Steven Spielberg asked for his autograph). AFRO SAMURAI creator Takashi Okazaki drew a fabulous sketch of GL and Kuma holding lightsabers, with Jar Jar lying at their feet, gorily cut in half. There was also Snow Bunny, the pink snowtrooper of the Tokyo 501st (a perfect blend of STAR WARS and Anime), who compared George to a cuddly Ewok. “He’s so cute”, she told us. Visions of Mister Rogers again!
We woke up at 5:30 in the morning on our last day and took the train to the headquarters of legendary toymakers Kotobukiya, where we interviewed the company’s President, Kazuyuki Shimizu, Vice President Hiroyo Shimizu, and planners Masahiro Miyazaki and Rika Takashiro. After a brief shoot at their sculptors’ office, they gave each one of us lightsaber chopsticks, and we rushed to the airport to catch a plane back to the U.S. (Robert actually went to China, but that’s another story).
I’m overlooking a lot of cool stories, like the INDIANA JONES fan who talked about watching the infamous SOUTH PARK episode, and his cultural understanding of the love-hate that Westerners vocally profess toward George Lucas. I didn’t sleep for 30 hours, and returned to Denver, ready to tackle our first rough cut. The film currently clocks in at 98 minutes. Another week or so of editing, and it will go out to a very select handful of people. We’re getting close, folks! Production is officially over, and with roughly two additional months of post-production ahead of us, we’re about to enter a new phase. It’s a long road still, but we’re hoping to unleash 3 1/2 years of mad work and absolute passion to the world sometime in March. So stay tuned, and in the meantime, Happy Holidays!!