THE FAITH FACTOR

StarWars 

“Before I refuse to take

your questions,

I have an opening statement.”

– Ronald Reagan

 It’s been defined as the substance and the evidence. The implication of substance ties it steadfastly to that which is real and tangible. It exists not in the mere conjure of fantasy, not in the imagination of invisible, not in hopes, wishes or dreams; but in touchable, physical, substantial and material renderings that can be seen, observed and studied.

The implication of evidence implies that it provides trace elements of undeniable truth, which lead to confirmation of an event, a happening or a development. Faith is not fuzzy, whimsical or flighty. It is, by contrast, steady and driven, given to single-mindedness with purpose. It is interwoven with commitment, direction and principle.

May 25th, marks the thirty-fourth anniversary of the release of the George Lucas creation: Star Wars. It also pulls back the curtain on the culmination of an amazing journey forged by a pioneer driven by FAITH that what he was doing needed to be done and he was the person to do it.

Lucas saw something that no one else could envision at the time and was driven to pull from the invisible that which he alone experienced as reality. “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” a young visionary traversed an inspirational journey that is worthy of consideration.

– Six things about Star Wars –

that you may or may not know

“May the Force be with you!”

A catch phrase adopted immediately by fans, it quickly became a greeting, a salutation and a wishful prayer. The “Force,” as it was described, was a boundless energy that flowed thru everything in the universe. It provided an eternal connection that could not be broken. However, it could be manipulated by those so trained. Such phrases as, “I feel a disturbance in the Force” and “The Force is strong in this one” became commonly used pop-culture expressions.

Thought: You have a natural connection with your surroundings.  To feel as if you constantly have to “get away” or “step outside the box” is to disconnect. In the process, you underestimate and underutilize the resources you already have available. As a result, all is undervalued.

The law of “Right Place – Right Time”

Although initially approached, the established movie production giants Universal Studios and United Artists wanted no part of Star Wars. As a result, Lucas acquired the services of a talented sketch artist and purchased some renderings designed to enhance his pitch to an upstart studio named 20th Century FOX. FOX bought into the project and gave Lucas the backing he needed to get the wheels in motion. The road ahead for the studio and the screenwriter was long, uncharted and ripe with pitfalls; but FOX never pulled the plug. Had Universal or UA taken the project, Star Wars may have never made it through initial production unscathed.

Thought: The right pieces of the puzzle come along when two parts are ready to be connected, not before. The pieces fit together because each provides what the other needs. Don’t pressure the fit or fret over the pieces that don’t belong in your puzzle (even if they look irresistible at first glance). The right fit will come at the right time. Lucas needed the right partner to bring his vision to life.

Driven to Consumption

Lucas personally screen tested potential actors and actresses for nearly a year before finally casting the roles. Initial filming began in the deserts of Tunisia. The heat was unbearable and equipment, cameras and set mechanics were no match for the elements. The cast and crew felt as if they were making a silly children’s movie and at times were hard-pressed to take their roles, scripts and job duties seriously. Lucas worked tirelessly, even though no one was seeing the vision through his eyes. He pressed on to the point of exhaustion and was hospitalized for a brief period as a result. That commitment and experience quite possibly inspired the writing of dialogue between a young, ambitious Luke Skywalker and the newly introduced Jedi Master, Yoda. The exchange takes place midway through the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, in Yoda’s cave which is hidden deep within the swamps of Dagobah.

 

LUKE: I’m ready!

YODA: Ready, are you? What know you ready? For 800 years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained. A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, hmmm? The most serious mind.

This one (now speaking to the “present-in-spirit” Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi, but referring to Luke) a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was, hmmm? What he was doing, hmmph! Adventure, Ha! Excitement, Ha! A Jedi craves not these things.

YOU (turning to talk directly to Luke) are reckless!

VOICE OF BEN OBI-WAN KENOBI: So was I, if you remember. . .

YODA(to Ben): Will he finish what he begins?

LUKE(to Yoda): I won’t fail you. . . I’m not afraid!

YODA: Oh. . . You will be. You WILL be!

 

Thought: There is a steep price to pay, especially if you are on target with a calling as opposed to something that just sparks your attention. The ultimate reward may be great, but the toll exacted along the way may leave deep scars that are forever visible.

Meet Invention’s Mom

Initial filming completed, it was time to add in some extra studio touches to bring things to life. Movie special effects at the time (1977) were insanely archaic compared to what we can do on a home computer in 2011. Lucas couldn’t watch his vision crumble just because technology didn’t exist. So, he started his own special effects company – Industrial Light & Magic. Working with a number of talented individuals, Lucas stretched them to their limits and then pushed. The lasers and explosions of Star Wars don’t seem all that amazing today, but in 1977 it was ground breaking stuff that left audiences aghast.

Thought: You don’t always know what you’ll need until you actually need it and when you do finally need it, you’ll have a much better understanding of what it is you actually need. Don’t be afraid to dream and don’t be afraid to take notes. One day you may need to fully develop that idea.

Darkest Before The Dawn

An unbelievable problem came to the surface once Star Wars was complete and ready for release. Theatres didn’t want to show it. The multi-screen complexes that we call theatres today didn’t exist in 1977. Most theatres only had one screen (some were “Twins”) and seating was limited to a small crowd. As a result, every movie had to fill the seats or the theatre lost huge amounts of money. Most theatres just didn’t want to show Star Wars. There was no “buzz” on the streets amongst consumers and the theatre owners saw it as a huge loss risk.

The theatres were clamoring however for another FOX release called, The Other Side of Midnight, a film nearly 3 hours long that featured sex and nudity. The novel turned screenplay carried “must see” potential and the theatre owners wanted to cash in. FOX put an unusual premium on the movie. Theatres could only have The Other Side of Midnight the week of June 8th, if they ran Star Wars the week of May 25th. Only thirty-two theatres caved into the package offering and thus Star Wars had a one-week limited engagement. By the weekend, the number had grown to forty-two nationwide.

Thought: The best partner isn’t always the most obvious partner. Sure, we all realize that peanut butter goes great with chocolate now; but how many of us would have tried that combo on our own? This actually rides in the shadows of the “Force” itself. Our initial takeaway was to not “underestimate and underutilize the resources you already have available.”

The Law of Open doors

By the end of the first weekend every theatre in the country was fighting for their opportunity to show Star Wars. Ticket lines wrapped around the block as fans began to show up in costume to see the movie for the second, third and fourth time. Theatres were opening earlier and closing later so that they could add an extra showing each day. When Lucas sat down with FOX executives to discuss the making of The Empire Strikes Back, he asked for the merchandising rights of everything belonging to Star Wars. Studios were only concerned with production of the next marketable movie and thus had no interest in merchandising.

Lucas approached the Kenner Toy Company with an idea for action figures. Being told that they couldn’t possibly produce them in time for the Christmas shopping season, Lucas came up with a resolution. Kenner sold empty boxes with a gift certificate good for the first four Star Wars action figures which would be sent sometime in the spring of the following year to those redeeming gift certificates. The movie merchandising industry was born.

Thought: Open doors can only be seen by the person who is supposed to pass through them. This type of vision is unique to the visionary. If you’re seeing it, there’s a reason. Count the cost. Weigh your options. Determine your commitment. Even though the price is steep; the reward may be something really special.

“You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over hurdles and break through brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you. Otherwise, you’ll stop at the first giant hurdle.”

– George Lucas

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