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Indeed, Lucas insists that he resorts to special effects mainly because they are economical, a way of delivering good movie value at affordable prices. "I make films that generate emotions," he says, adding that the challenge is to "make them well enough so that they work at 51% effort. If the movie is made at 100% effort, it is indulgent." And likely to suffer unbearable cost overruns. "Cimino made Heaven's Gate at 150%." Moviegoers, says the frugal Lucas, will buy a weakish special effect or even stock footage as long as their emotions are engaged. "If it gets dreary, then they notice," he says. In Raiders, only sharp-eyed cineasts will know that a shot of a DC-3 flying in the Himalayas was bought from the remake of Lost Horizon or that a 1930s street scene came from The Hindenburg.
Like another great craftsman, Alfred Hitchcock, Lucas prefers to present himself as a pure entertainer, perhaps fearing that references to more profound aspects of his work will put the public off. "Francis Coppola likes to think of film as art," he says. "I don't take it that seriously. Art is for someone to figure out 100 years from now." Spielberg agrees and disagrees. "We both see movies through youngsters' eyes," he says. "I don't make intellectual movies. George, however, is really an intellectual."
Slight, softspoken, reclusively inclined, Lucas wears that mantle as lightly as he wears the garb of his Star Wars success. He drives a Toyota, wears plaid sports shirts and high-top basketball sneakers, works in a home-office complex in Marin County, across the bridge from San Francisco. He loathes Los Angeles ("Hollywood doesn't care about film; they live to make deals") and does not like to direct. He runs his Lucasfilm operation tightly but benignly. His top executives are often film-school graduates and always knowledgeable, low-key, untemperamental. They have to be smart since
Lucas, unlike most producers, can do anything that needs to be done around a production. He ran a second camera for Spielberg on one of his infrequent visits to a Raiders location. Uncredited, he supervises all editing and is final arbiter of everything turned out by Industrial Light and Magic, his special-effects shop down the road. A man who believes in careful preplanningall his films are meticulously story-boardedhe simply cannot be conned into spending money needlessly by a careless line producer or a runaway director. Typical is his attitude toward casting. "All I care about is good acting.
Star value is only an insurance policy for those who don't trust themselves making films."