You know that look that Star Wars has? The sort of rough and abused look that the Millennium Falcon has? How things in that far flung futuristic world still looked like they’d actually been used occasionally? That look that much of science fiction to follow, including post-Jedi Star Wars itself has been trying to recreate ever since?
Here’s an interview with Roger Christian, the guy who literally built Star Wars for George Lucas and created that look (and won an Oscar for his efforts).
The interview is chock full of awesome stuff, mostly to do with how to build all this futuristic stuff without really having any money to do so. Here are a few choice quotes.
On Han Solo’s Blaster:
For Han Solo’s blaster gun, I wanted it like a Western gun, so I stuck old sights on it and everything. And I called John Barry and I said, “You better get George around here to see this idea,” because we could afford to do it this way. Plus these work, you could fire them and get the recoil, on-set, and not like actors going, “Beep beep.” So George came around, and that was the point where I’d either be fired or stay on. But George just smiled. And he stayed with me to help make Princess Leia’s gun the same way.
On the Light Saber:
ESQ: And you also did the first light saber, or “laser sword” as it was called, right?
RC: Yes. The laser sword was one of the most challenging props to find. Several attempts at mock-ups made by John Steers’ SFX department had been rejected. I knew the laser sword or light saber had the potential to become the symbol of Star Wars, like Excalibur was to King Arthur, so it had to look the part. And the Prop Master Frank Bruton, who had to get everything on trucks for Tunisia for the start of filming, was hounding me, and nothing I had found to adapt was feeling right. One day at the camera shop we rented equipment from, I asked the owner if he had any spare parts somewhere. And he pointed to some boxes buried deep under the shelves and there in the box were several Graflex flashgun handles. They were perfect, heavy, and had a red button for firing the flash. I could not believe my luck. I used rubber T-strip as a base, which I had also used for the Stormtroopers’ Stirling sub machine guns, and I pulled out my superglue and stuck strips along the base to form a handle grip. Then I had found some interesting bubble strip from an old calculator LED strip and they fit perfectly into the grip where the Graflex attached to the camera. I placed some chrome tape over the Graflex name and voila.
The whole thing is great. Go read it right now.