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Feature: Star Wars Episode I: Production Notes
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[ Episode I ]
[ Behind the Scenes ][ Explore Episode I ][ Explore Episode I ]

An Online Chat with Rick McCallum
March 04, 1999

[ Rick McCallum ]The following is the transcript of an online chat with Episode I Producer Rick McCallum.

ltjsk8a asks: How does the 2nd trailer differ from the original one?
StarWars_McCallum: The second trailer first of all is much more plot oriented. It tells you the larger scope of the movie.
StarWars_McCallum: It's all new footage, I love it.
StarWars_McCallum: It's exciting and fantistic.

MichaelTGrace asks: Yoda looks strange in the trailer. Has his appareance been altered for the actual film?
StarWars_McCallum: He's just 40 years younger.

motionsuggests asks: Mr. McCallum, What was the most remarkable thing about the production of this movie?
StarWars_McCallum: The privledge of working with George.
StarWars_McCallum: It's just big and epic. I love the crew that we work with in Tunisia, Italy and England.
StarWars_McCallum: It was a challenge every day and we're breaking new ground.

pack_aok asks: When will the 2nd Trailer be released and will it be on starwars.com within the first 24 hours, like the "teaser" trailer?
StarWars_McCallum: The trailer will be released in March.
StarWars_McCallum: There is no exact date yet, just keep checking the web site.

Jedi_Hermit asks: What was it like working with George Lucas? What kind of guy is he?
StarWars_McCallum: How much time do we have?

Thu Mar 4 18:03:04 1999
StarWars_McCallum: He's such a consumate filmmaker.
StarWars_McCallum: There is no aspect that he is not keenly aware off.
StarWars_McCallum: He has great knowledge. He's a wonderful leader.
StarWars_McCallum: It's very very easy to work with him.

Marty2634 asks: Hello Rick, How is Liam Neeson's performance in this movie?
StarWars_McCallum: Awesome!

gfunk26 asks: Is it true that Phantom menace is just a decoy name?
StarWars_McCallum: Absolutely not. That is the title of the movie.

Izzo84 asks: Where you intimated by working on a Star Wars movie?
StarWars_McCallum: I was much more intimidated working on the Special Edition because it was just weird working on a set of movies that were made 20 years ago.
StarWars_McCallum: On Episode One , I wasn't.
StarWars_McCallum: I've worked with George over 10 years on Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, and Radioland Murders. We get along well.

Mattpurcell asks: how was it working with Samuel L. Jackson, a huge Star Wars fan?
StarWars_McCallum: It was great to work with Sam. I don't know if you know the story of how he was cast.
StarWars_McCallum: Robin Gurland, our casting director, was watching a news talk show in England.
StarWars_McCallum: One question asked of Sam, was what movie would you love to be in. He said Star Wars.
StarWars_McCallum: We called his bluff and called him. We wrote a part for him and he spent about 3 days working with us.

delphicaX asks: When you were working on the restoration of the trilogy, how did the production team determine the line between enhancing and altering the films?
StarWars_McCallum: George knew exactly what he wanted to change in all three films.
StarWars_McCallum: They had to do with schedules and comprimises of sequences and shots that he wanted to change.

Treader2 asks: Do you have a favorite SW character, old or new?
StarWars_McCallum: Yes, my favorite character overall in the first 3 is Boba Fett.
StarWars_McCallum: I identify with him.
StarWars_McCallum: Physically I resemble Jabba.

dusty18412 asks: when will boba fett enter the films
StarWars_McCallum: Sometime in the future, definitely soon.

rsnahra asks: What are your post prequel-trilogy plans?
StarWars_McCallum: Take a very very long vacation.
StarWars_McCallum: I have a secret dream to visit every country in the world. I've only done 60.

Rage_Commander074089 asks: What do you believe is the most defining trait of the original Star Wars trilogy, and does this trait still hold true in the prequils?
StarWars_McCallum: The single most defining moment was in Ep IV A New Hope.
StarWars_McCallum: When Luke looks at the two suns setting, the yearning to discover the world and explore is a theme through all 6 films.

bryholf asks: What kind of stress have you been under producing one of the most highly anticipated movies of all time?
StarWars_McCallum: Let me put it this way, I have purchased land in Bulgaria.
StarWars_McCallum: It's been such a big experience, but it's been so much fun that it hasn't been painful at all.

MichaelTGrace asks: How would you compare this film to the original trilogy? Which one is it most similar to?
StarWars_McCallum: None.

Marty2634 asks: Hello Rick, Which actor or actresses perfomance in this film stand out in your opinion?
StarWars_McCallum: It's really an ensemble piece.
StarWars_McCallum: Everyone stands out.

Thrawn_24 asks: How did Ewan MacGregor get involved? I think he looks great as Obi Wan!
StarWars_McCallum: We'll when we were casting the movie, George was adament that we find someone that could be a younger Obi-Wan.
StarWars_McCallum: We took a whole bunch of Alec Guinness films from when he was younger and looked at current actors.
StarWars_McCallum: We thought Ewan was great as a diverse actor for Trainspotting and Emma in one year.
StarWars_McCallum: Once we met him we knew.

Izzo84 asks: What was the most challenging thing about working on a star wars movie?
StarWars_McCallum: I think the coordination of the most complicated special effects movie ever done.
StarWars_McCallum: Shooting in three counties.
StarWars_McCallum: The ability to do it on budget and to achieve that .

gt9340b asks: Do you believe that the movie can live up to the expectations? Honestly?
StarWars_McCallum: That's why I purchased the land in Bulgaria.

jtd_5 asks: Any information about the next two movies?
StarWars_McCallum: Yes.
StarWars_McCallum: The next film we shoot in Tunisia, Australia and Italy in the year 2000.
StarWars_McCallum: It will be released in 2002.

ryrish asks: Any chance on seeing a Jawa's face?
StarWars_McCallum: LOL
StarWars_McCallum: If you look really hard.
StarWars_McCallum: You'll have to see the film many times.

Bigwampa asks: What will be your biggest obstacle in the next 2 movies?
StarWars_McCallum: We'll the first one we pushed the envelope. The second one we're licking it.

Riddle_18 asks: is this movie something to take the kids to?
StarWars_McCallum: Over and over and over.

Marc5629 asks: Compared to Titanic's Number of Special Effects, How does Episode I rate in terms of quantity and cost?
StarWars_McCallum: Well we're doing 5x the effects of Titanic, and it is considerably cheaper.

miperrone asks: How do you feel the web affected the production of the film, if at all?
StarWars_McCallum: It didn't affect the production of the film.
StarWars_McCallum: I get a lot of info from the web each day. It amuses me
StarWars_McCallum: I love the speculation and the rampant untrue rumors.
StarWars_McCallum: I find it very interesting.
ChatYahoo_Lisa: What's your favorite untrue rumor
StarWars_McCallum: Charlton Heston playing Yoda.

corren23 asks: Is it true that Lucas will not make episodes 7, 8, and9? If it is why won't he? Thanks
StarWars_McCallum: It's definitely true.
StarWars_McCallum: These films are so complex and time consuming and he has other projects that he wants to do.

raab00 asks: How would you rate Jake Lloyd's performance?
StarWars_McCallum: He brought everything to Anakin. He had all the right combinations and qualities.
StarWars_McCallum: He's also a great great kid.

StarWars_McCallum: Why only 1 month?

Marty2634 asks: Hello Rick, Why do you think the Star Wars films have such a fan interest around the world?
StarWars_McCallum: I think it really gets down to just the story and the characters.
StarWars_McCallum: George has created a universe with so many themes and it's rooted in the basic drama.
StarWars_McCallum: It has resonance all over the world.

Morphius1 asks: What affect has Star Wars had on your life?
StarWars_McCallum: I haven't had a life since I started working with George.

Hexcaliber_71 asks: Mr. McCallum, is it true that Mr. Lucas plan on filming episode three entirely digitally, without film?
StarWars_McCallum: Right now the plan is that Episode II and III will be filmed with a digital camera.

TMRFE asks: What is a more enjoyable for you: the actual filming of thepicture or the post-production work?
StarWars_McCallum: On a normal film, it's filming.
StarWars_McCallum : On this kind of film, I love the challenges of working with ILM as they create some of the most extrodinary stuff I've ever seen.
StarWars_McCallum: It's been a great experience working with them.

binkster_the_first asks: Is the first movie hard to follow if you're not somewhat in tuned with the underlying story?
StarWars_McCallum: Absolutely, not. Remeber it's Episode One.

Digiting asks: Stylistically, how does John Williams' Phantom Menace score compare to the existing Star Wars music?
StarWars_McCallum: We'll it has a lot of familiar themes.
StarWars_McCallum: Both George and I just got back from London from 3 weeks of working with the London Symphony.
StarWars_McCallum: It's new and rich and everybody is going to be thrilled with it.

ChrisB8199 asks: Has the Episode II and III scripts been completed?
StarWars_McCallum: Episode Two, George is writing now.

Digiting asks: How long is The Phantom Menace in its current form (final cut)?
StarWars_McCallum: The total film will be 2 hours and 10 minutes.

S_Xodiak asks: Was there any idea to have different coloured lightsabers, other than red, green and blue?
StarWars_McCallum: No.

alexjbigal007 asks: What's the hardest part in making the prequel?
StarWars_McCallum: When 23 years ago when George wrote Star Wars, he did a considerable amount of work on the back story.
StarWars_McCallum: When he completed his master script, he took the easiest section to film.
StarWars_McCallum: He always knew where they came from and who the characters were.
StarWars_McCallum: I think his overall idea is hopefully, soon, you'll see this extrodinary saga of a family over 6 parts or chapters.
StarWars_McCallum: Hopefully, it will be one big 12 hour film.

stevek24_1999 asks: can you tell us about the new sound system that "TPM" will utilize and how it will be different then most sound systems?
StarWars_McCallum: It's a sound system developed by THX and Dolby based on an idea by our principal mixer. You put a center speaker in the back and isolates a sound to move in an arc.
StarWars_McCallum: It doesn' go from left to right, but rather fills the back of a screen.
StarWars_McCallum: If you have a spaceship or lightsaber, you can actually here it go from left to center to right.

Vader_DLOTS asks: will there be anything abourt Han or Leia in the prequels?
StarWars_McCallum: Not in Episode One.
StarWars_McCallum: I have to say guys that these are better questions than I've gotten from any journalists!
StarWars_McCallum: We're chatting live from the Skywalker Ranch.

darklord_327 asks: Why did Lucas wait so long before doing this trilogy?
StarWars_McCallum: The basic answer is he didn't feel the technology was good enough to achieve the vision he had for the film.
StarWars_McCallum: The turning point for George was when he was supervising the postproduction on Jurrasic Park.
StarWars_McCallum: I was in Prague for Young Indy. George just saw handheld shot of Jeff Goldblum being chased by the T-Rex in the Jeep.

Thu Mar 4 18:33:09 1999
StarWars_McCallum: It was a turning point in that you couldn't achieve that before.
StarWars_McCallum: He finally felt that everything was coming together.
ChatYahoo_Lisa: Didn't you want to add a fully digital character?
StarWars_McCallum: Up to that point, it was possible to do with other methods, but never cost effiecient.

Bishop14_1999 asks: WILL WOOKIEES BE IN EPISODE I?
StarWars_McCallum: They have a cameo and it's not Chewbacca, and again you'll have to see the film many times to spot them.

ken955 asks: What was your background before you got this cool gig?
StarWars_McCallum: Catering...
StarWars_McCallum: I've been making films since 1980.
StarWars_McCallum: I was living and working in England in 1990 when I met George and he outlined his ideas for Young Indy.
StarWars_McCallum: We got along really well and it just went from there.

ORIONSAINT asks: Will there be a making of special for Phantom Menace?
StarWars_McCallum: There already is one on the web. Updated every other week.

billdet asks: How do you keep things secret on a movie involving hundreds of people?
StarWars_McCallum: With the threat of death by drowning.
StarWars_McCallum: It's hard, but if you have a crew that you've worked with for a long time they understand it's important to keep it a secret for the fans.

Maverick_at_UNC asks: Did Ewan and Liam make convincing swordsmen?
StarWars_McCallum: They worked so hard and rehearsed for such a long time.
StarWars_McCallum: They both give truly convincing performances while fighting.
StarWars_McCallum: The stuntmaster was Nick Gillard. He also taught the swords.

AMPAS5 asks: Will Jabba appear in any of the prequels?
StarWars_McCallum: Yes.

seanm asks: How has Star Wars been able to avoid the budget problems that plagued oter big shows like 'Titanic'?
StarWars_McCallum: We prepped for a very long time and as I said before we've had a crew that's worked together.
StarWars_McCallum: We also take a lot of pride in doing it right for the money. That's a very important aspect for us.

externkoz asks: What is the biggest difference between Episode I and Episodes IV-VI, and in what way are they most similar?
StarWars_McCallum: The design is totally different and yet in the same time there are echoes and similarities in the original three.
StarWars_McCallum: The costumes are much more elaborate. It's much more epic in scale.

ironparrot asks: Will there be a third trailer within the last few weeks before the prequel's release on May 21?
StarWars_McCallum: NO!
StarWars_McCallum: Emphatically, NO. We're working to hard to get the film done as it is.

Hexcaliber_71 asks: Mr. McCallum, how would you say Mr. Lucas views of his Star Wars story has changed over the last twenty plus years?
StarWars_McCallum: I don't think it's changed that much.
StarWars_McCallum: I think it's just taken a long time for the tools and the opportunity to make his vision.
StarWars_McCallum: He's always known what the Saga was about.

waylen1138 asks: Was there anything George wanted to attempt with this flim that simply could not be done?
StarWars_McCallum: Everyday!

agrbatti asks: in your opinion..is this the best star wars film to date?
StarWars_McCallum: In my opinion, absolutely.

the1stMule asks: How many hours of film did you end up with before editing?
StarWars_McCallum: We shot 1.3 million feet of film.
StarWars_McCallum: 2500 setups on first , 1200 on second and all in 65 days.

jaybuangan asks: Was it tough working with Yoda?
StarWars_McCallum: No because, Yoda's played by Frank Oz, one of the most decent, gentle, talented men I've ever met.

motionsuggests asks: Do you believe there is a breakthrough in storytelling similar to the one Lucas created in American Grafitti?
StarWars_McCallum: The breakthrough for us is digital animation.
StarWars_McCallum: We spent so much time working on realistic alien characters who interact seamlessly.

cphartman asks: Did the actors on the set seem nervous about the pleasing the fans?
StarWars_McCallum: No. I think they were nervous about shooting in front of a lot of blue screen.
StarWars_McCallum: After a week or two they got very used to it.

shell0919 asks: How many hours did you spend filming per day
StarWars_McCallum: We would normally shoot a 12 to 13 hour day.

Marty2634 asks: Hello Rick, How was the name "The Phantom Menace" chosen as the title of this film?
StarWars_McCallum: You'll have to see the movie to understand that.

Ethan_Be asks: Is there one particular movie that made you want to get into filmmaking? if so, what is it?
StarWars_McCallum: Yes it was a film by Ingmar Bergman called Persona.
ChatYahoo_Lisa: Was there something specific about that film?
StarWars_McCallum: Liv Ullman and Dee Dee Anderson when they were 20.

Rage_Commander074089 asks: Why didn't shooting occur at Elstree studios as in the original films?
StarWars_McCallum: Unfortunely, Elstree was cut up in the '90s and it's a much smaller studio now.
StarWars_McCallum: We needed an area 5 or 6 times the size of Elstree.
StarWars_McCallum: I didn't want to shoot in a tradition studio, we shot and left our sets standing.
StarWars_McCallum: We rented a large warehouse outside of London.
StarWars_McCallum: We also build over 65 sets on 800,000 sq. feet of warehouse space.
StarWars_McCallum: No studio really has that capability.

Strider21m asks: What was the biggest problem encountered in the making of this movie, and what was the biggest learning experience for you?
StarWars_McCallum: Nothing was major problem. We did have a big storm our second day in Tunisia that completely destroyed all our sets.
StarWars_McCallum: We were very lucky in that one set managed to survive to storm and allowed us enough time to rebuild in shifts for 24hours.
StarWars_McCallum: That wasa difficult 2-3 weeks.
StarWars_McCallum: How extrodinarily talented the people at ILM are.
StarWars_McCallum: They're a phenomonal group of artist s.

DarthJake asks: How do you choose such diverse names for your characters in Star Wars? Does George do all of the naming?
StarWars_McCallum: George does everything.
StarWars_McCallum: He designs every object and names all the names.
StarWars_McCallum: Obviously he created the world that we're all lucky enough to be a part of.

MorgusTheMagnificent asks: With the mountain of leaked plot info, are there any surprises left to "The Phantom Menace?"
StarWars_McCallum: We'll luckily most of the rumors are so ridiculous that there is so much that people still don't know.

Hexcaliber_71 asks: Mr. McCallum, after episode three, what is left for us to look forward to?!!
StarWars_McCallum: George has other projects that I think are going to be truly experimental and really exciting.
StarWars_McCallum: Thanks for all the great questions and thank you for all the outragous rumors on the internet.
StarWars_McCallum: Now that's entertainment.
Yahoomc: Thanks for joining us
Yahoomc: may the force be with you -- good night!

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