While many obsessed Star Wars fans bitten by the digital film bug have channeled their energy into making films set in George Lucasi universe or turning out documentaries about such topics as waiting in line for the next movie, no one has delved into the more esoteric area of the original movieis editing, which won an Academy Award in 1978. So Garrett Gilchrist decided to draw on his own experiences as a film student at USC to create Star Wars: Deleted Magic: a look at that seminal movie from an editing point-of-view, complete with not only plenty of behind-the-scenes and deleted footage but also brand new shots, such as opening text based on an early draft of the screenplay. Mr. Gilchrist even inserted his own text notes and provided brief voice-over narration for certain segments.
Mr. Gilchrist uses a 1.25GHz Power Mac G4 running Mac OS X v10.3.8. He employs Final Cut Pro for editing, color correction and effects, Adobe Photoshop, QuickTime Pro, DVD Studio Pro 3 and the open source audio editing tool Audacity. He admits he was "always a PC person" until he attended USC, where he was given a choice between Macs and PCs for film editing and chose the former because "it become clear very quickly that the best system to do graphics and editing was the Mac." Heis currently working on the DVD release of his seventh feature film, Gods of Los Angeles.
Q: Where did the idea for Deleted Magic come from and why did you want to put it together?
A: Iive always been obsessed with the Star Wars deleted scenes for some reason. I remember as a kid Iid watch all the making of Star Wars specials, and we had the Jedi ones on a Beta tape, which I watched over and over, seeing Declan Mulholland as the human version of Jabba the Hutt and all that. I remember when the Biggs footage was first shown in maybe 1997 and the first pictures that came out from that.
In 1998 or i99, LucasArts released the Behind the Magic CD, which had the Biggs footage on it, and theyid already released Making Magic, which had some extra human Jabba footage on it. I had those transferred to VHS immediately, and I made my own little edit of Star Wars which was just the Biggs related scenes -- "The Adventures of Biggs Darklighter" crawl and all. Very silly.
Star Wars is a masterfully edited film, one of the greatest editing jobs of all time. You could learn everything you need to know about editing from watching that film. When you watch the original cut of the cantina sequence on the Behind the Magic CD, and see how awful it was, you really see what a difference editing makes. People thought The Phantom Menace was terrible, and it was, but it was also the worst-edited film Iid ever seen. I did my own edit of The Phantom Menace at the time, cutting whenever I got bored, and I hacked an hour out of it. I never showed that to anyone, but it was very telling. Thatis what they did to Star Wars. Star Wars could have been terrible, because the minute you get bored you start questioning how thin the characters and story are, rather than being dazzled by the imagination of it all. Instead, they created one of the greatest films of all time.
Itis something thatis an amazing thing to study. Iid wanted to make a documentary about the deleted scenes from Star Wars for some time, really show that process and make people understand, and the release of the 2004 DVDs, with all their little bits of footage, was a great excuse to do that.
It was a lot of fun to go through the film and kind of make comments and jokes about it, and really make people understand how the film came together, what it was when they were shooting compared to what it became. I never had to do research while writing the notes, I just wrote what came into my head. Itis kind of my own opinion on the editing process of Star Wars.
No one had really made a film like this before, certainly not a comprehensive film that took you all through the movie by the hand and explained it all to you, scene by scene. There are a lot of websites thatill tell you about stuff like this, but there wasnit a cool DVD that you could watch -- I definitely felt the need for a disc like this.
Q: What has the response been to Deleted Magic so far? Have you heard from anyone at Lucasfilm?
A: The response has been phenomenal -- the film has been downloaded something like 10,000 times. Itis really hard to tell how many copies are out there right now, as itis in so many places. [Fan site webmaster] TiBone had to take the downloads of it down as it was crashing his server, which is a huge server. The film used to be up at the site which inspired it, starwarz.com.
But people really love it -- Iive gotten so many e-mails from people saying it reminded them of why they loved Star Wars, all over again. Because when youive watched a film like Star Wars so many times you actually miss things. You donit notice how it really was put together, and you forget that itis a film, the great accomplishment that it was. For me, it was a fun process of rediscovering the film, really looking at it from a filmmaking standpoint. Realizing that George was quoting from Dune and Kurosawa, seeing the glue that held it together. And when people watch it, it helps them rediscover the film too.
I havenit heard from Lucasfilm, but I have heard from Garrick Hagon, who played Biggs Darklighter, and he loved the film, just loved it. Which meant everything to me, since for me this disc was all about restoring the Biggs scenes and bits like that, and so if the star of this film likes it then thatis the only good review I need.
Thereis been a lot of concern about whether Lucasfilm could sue over something like this. And they could if they want to, Iim sure, since Iim just a poor filmmaker. So all through the process, I made it very clear that this wasnit a project I was doing for profit. That it was going to be made available for free. You can download it, share it and enjoy it, all for nothing. Itis a research project, a bit like writing your senior thesis on the deleted scenes of Star Wars. Since itis a video, obviously I had to base the whole thing off material copyrighted by Lucasfilm, and thatis the nature of it.
I really hope that they would see this project for what it is, appreciate it as such and not be so cold as to retaliate to creativity with legal action. If youire sharing it for free on the Internet, I believe that is in essence legal, in the sense that a fan website shares photos copyrighted by Lucasfilm and is legal. This is like a fan website on DVD.
Thereis a lot of great fan preservation going on at sites like originaltrilogy.com -- people are releasing things that arenit commercially available, and I think that that should be allowed, because Lucasfilm would never officially release some obscure TV special from the 80s, some making of special. And if they did release it, of course weid buy it. I mean, weive all bought everything Lucasfilm has ever officially released ever, havenit we? Basically. If they havenit released something themselves, and itis worth seeing, like the old making of specials or whatever, or "Return of the Ewok," which is this great little film Warwick Davis did on the set of Return of the Jedi, well, I think itis great that people are putting these out on disc.
I also hope that George releases the original versions of the trilogy on DVD, as Iive never liked the Special Editions. There are a lot of people doing nice restoration work on the original trilogy versions, making those available freely on the Internet, which is really nice, and obviously illegal, but Iim afraid that in this case, Iim on the side of the fans -- these versions should be available on DVD in good quality.
Q: If someone wants to get a copy of Deleted Magic, where should they go?
A: You can get a torrent of the entire DVD at myspleen.net, and itis also been posted in the alt.binaries.starwars newsgroup, or whatever the name of that newsgroup is.
Or ask that Star Wars fan you know who has all kinds of weird discs. He might have it!