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Star Wars Celebrates 30th at the Academy

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences began the fourth installment of its "Great to be Nominated" series on April 23, 2007, with the 30th anniversary screening of STAR WARS. The "Great To Be Nominated" series features the picture from each Academy Awards year that received the most nominations without winning the Best Picture award. Following the screening on the STAR WARS special edition, a post-film discussion was held, which included George Lucas, Robert Blalack, Richard Chew, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Paul Hirsch, Don MacDougall, Ray West, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill.

For the vfx world, Dykstra commented on the many challenges that arose during the production, having to create many of the cameras and equipment for the complicated visual effects from scratch. After a year of working on the motion control unit, the fledgling ILM had only one shot in the can after spending $1 million of the film's $13 million budget.

Fox exec Alan Ladd, Jr., who was one of the panelists, commented that, after a visit to ILM once, the cfo of the studio came into his office and said, "Fuck, ILM."

When asked about acting against bluescreen, Fisher expressed difficulty reacting to something she couldn't see. She said that during the scene where her home planet is blown up by the Death Star space station, all she had for reference was a crewmember, who was drinking tea, waving his hand by a circle on a piece of cardboard. However, Hamill said the surreal (and difficult) shoot in Tanzania helped get him into the world of the film. As an actor, he said acting in a fantasy is no more challenging than pretending you're really driving a car when in reality you're on a set and there are crewmembers rocking the automobile.

Lucas commented part of the motivation for making the film was to bring a sci-fi adventure to the screen that had never been seen before using the state-of-the-art in special effects. He helped put together the award winning team, who had worked on 2001 and TV commercials, putting Dykstra in charge of working out the technical challenges. Edlund said that what made Dykstra such a great leader is that he left the various departments alone and allowed them to work with their strengths, not micromanaging every detail of the project.

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Rick DeMott
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