Archive for the 'star wars' Category

25
May
13

return of the jedi turns 30

poster

poster

May the 25th 1983, Return of the Jedi makes it’s theatrical debut, and we were there.   “Revenge of the Jedi” was the original name of the film until the last several months of the production.  Something happened story-wise that caused the big name change, and there was a rush to pull everything that was printed, whether it was posters or articles in Star Log, to be quickly replaced with the new title.  As anxious fans, this title change was an enormous event and we were all scrambling to get anything that had “Revenge of the Jedi” in the title.

Anyways it’s now May the 24th and a bunch of my friends, including Rod Andrewson, Scott Rigler, Brian Siken and a host of others made the big trek to Scottsdale, AZ to camp on the night before so we could be at the first screening of the final segment of the original Star Wars trilogy. It was a long night, and from our point of view, we felt like we were the only normal people in a sea of crazy fanatic fans.  There was girl that decided to walk out in the intersection at about 3:00 in the morning and pretend to control the traffic lights with her own Jedi powers.  At any given hour cars of thrill seekers would drive by and throw eggs into the crowd or hose everyone down with high pressure fire extinguishers. It was definitely a night to remember. The first showing was at noon so once we all got inside and to our seats, all the excitement began.  The Kachina was a big Cinerama theater and the best seats were about the 5th row from the front and in the center.  From these seats the screen seemed to wrap around and fortunately we got petty close to the E ticket seating. Finally noon comes and the movie begins.

Following one of SCI-Fi’s  greatest films of all time, “The Empire Strikes Back”, the anticipation for this installment was without measure.  The movie starts and the entire film is filled with screams and howls from the crowd.  The new visual EFX by ILM are breathtaking as well as the score by John Williams, but about half way through the movie I was really not thrilled by what was happening on screen.  As the stage was set with “Empire” as a dark, intense and very serious story line with deep character development, took a hard turn to whimsical and campy in Jedi… Teddy bears in the woods,  a pathetically wimpy  Han Solo who suffered from teen jealousy attacks.  Darth Vader turns into a softy and when he takes his helmet off we find out he is really Humpty Dumty.  The “other”, that Yoda had spoken of was Princess Leia who really didn’t hold up for any greatness.  And the final blow of Luke and Leia being twins.  I was very disappointed as the film played on but I thought it must have been because I was tired so I went again and, NO I was right it wasn’t anywhere near what I was expecting.  I went several more times to watch the speeder bike chase and the end attack on the Death Star but story wise I just hated where it went, or didn’t go.

Writers Kasdan and Brackett, as well as the directorial vision of Irvin Kirshner were deeply missed and their labors were tossed aside for cute, cuddly and silly humor.  Although the disappointment is still there 30 years later, I still love the film even though it was a far cry from what I was expecting to see.  Ewoks are still a lot more palatable than Jar Jar Binks.  HAAA HAAA! So with all that said, Happy 30th to RETURN OF THE JEDI!!!!

revenge poster

revenge poster

the Kachina!

the Kachina!

Jabba and Slave Leia.

Jabba and Slave Leia.

some of ILM's magic

some of ILM’s magic

the speeder bike chase, The highlight of the film.

the speeder bike chase, The highlight of the film.

Even more ILM Magic, It's a Trap!!!!

Even more ILM Magic, It’s a Trap!!!!

And may we present, Humpty Dumpty.

And may we present, Humpty Dumpty.

and to end it all we were treated to the atrocious Zug Zug song!!!!! OH what a world, Happy 30th jedi

and to end it all we were treated to the atrocious Zug Zug song!!!!! OH what a world, Happy 30th jedi

16
Aug
12

35th anniversarry of star wars nose art

Howdy all and happy 35th to Star Wars.

The big celebration is just a few weeks a way, and Florida is getting ready!!!!  Many years ago my friend Sean (of Acme Animation Archives) and I were talking about coming up with some new Star Wars art for his gallery.  We came up with the idea of creating some fictional nose art for some of the various wing groups and fighters.  The idea was pitched to Lucasfilms, and the word came back that we were good to go with some concepts.  Well 5 years later we are running with the drawings, HAAA!

Here are some ROUGHS that we were hoping to get some feedback on so have a look and let me know what you think…. The first two are for the A-Wing group and the Leia is just an idea.

Thanks.

Rebel Rouser, A-Wing group

Rebellious Behavior, A-Wing group

Lethal Leia, Falcon

John

17
Aug
11

the wrath of comicon, 2011 part 3

Wow what a week!!! had our big garage sale, making the final pack for Wyoming, getting ready for the fair, and just started on Star Trek Monday morning, life is good but a bit blurry in the high speed lane, HAAAA anyways I’m takeing a coffee break and trying to get up as many con pics as I can this morning,,, there will be a part 4 if I don’t make it today.  OK one n all have a great day and enjoy the pics.

a pin up style movie ticket, cigerrette girl

direct from disneyland, a pair of evil queens

it's mickey's bones

an awesome star wars poster

komodo king

ol scratch

just cool

full view

staem punk thrives at the con

the dream machine from "Inception"

the bat mobile

the original, my favorite martian ship

James Bond props from "the Man with the Golden Gun"

props from, Men in Black

a very cool MIB rifle with a special detail

there's a real octopuss inside!!!!

a wicked bike sculpt, (GROWN)

CAPTAIN A

the leg lamp in miniature

OK have to go so there will be a part 4

25
May
11

Star Wars, 34 years old today

May 25th 1977, The world of movies and Science Fiction changed forever. Thank you George Lucas for making history and for creating the magic that has inspired us all!!!

12
Jan
11

Grant McCune, saying good bye to a dear friend

Grant and r2-d2

So Sorry for this very late post, but we lost our internet for the last three weeks and only just got it back up and working.  With that said, the last post of the year was to be about Grant McCune and all the modelers at his shop, but sadly, before it was finished news of Grant’s untimely passing changed the story from one of great fun to one of horrible sadness.

2010 has been a hard year full of many sorrows and tragedies.  We have lost a lot of  Hollywood legends and dear friends, and as the year comes to a close there is one more final goodbye to a dear, dear friend.  If you’re a regular reader here, the name Grant McCune is not a new one to you, and with great sadness, Grant passed away on Monday December the 27th of Pancreatic Cancer which he was only diagnosed with 4 weeks prior to his passing.  For those of you who don’t know of Grant from a friend’s point of view, he was the chief model maker on a little film that came out in 1977 called “Star Wars” and his masterful craft won him an Oscar.  Grant was always a little embarrassed about that because it was really his first film in many ways, and being the humble man that he was, always felt funny about it.

Grant started in the business working with his good friend Bill Shourt on the Mechanical Shark from Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws”.  Bill and Grant went from working under water to outer space when George Lucas was putting together a team of specialists to create the undiscovered country of major motion control VFX for his space epic “Star Wars”.  The Original Industrial Light and Magic VFX studio was a rented warehouse in Van Nuys, California, right next to the Van Nuys Airport.  Star Wars was a landmark film and opened the door to  a new world of VFX laden films incorporating Motion Control camera systems and technologies designed and created for Star Wars.  Lucas was signed on to do a sequel and he wanted to move his operation up to the Bay area which was George’s stomping grounds.  A call was made to see who wanted to follow to a new ILM to be situated in Marin County just north of San Francisco, and who was going to stay in Los Angelas.  John Dykstra and six others of the main group decided to stay in southern CA while the others moved on. John Dykstra, Bill Shourt, Grant McCune, Richard Alexander, Roger Dorney, Doug Smith and Bob Sheperd got their money together and formed a new company called “Apogee”.  Apogee retained the original building plus one directly next door to house all the new cameras, machine shop, creature shop, optical and animation department, model shop, and lots of stage and office space.  Their first project was the television pilot and series called “Battlestar Galactica”. Grant would head up the model shop, and crews of modelers would come and go as the projects came in.  Following Galactica came Star Trek (The Motion Picture), Caddyshack, Firefox and a host of other films and commercials.

I knew of Grant from the credits in Star Wars and from all the publications about the films VFX sequences.  After years of research I found an add for Apogee in a trade magazine for film and gave him a call.  We met in early 1984 and for the next year and a half I would frequently make the drive from Arizona to visit.  One hot summer Wednesday in July I stopped by again to say hi.  I was staying at my uncle’s house in Fullerton and doing some side work for him while I was on vacation from my job at the grocery store in Phoenix.  I told Grant in a joking way that I lived here now, and he said; you live in CALIFORNIA!!!  Why yes I do,,,,,  he then said, how do you like working outside….. in the heat???  I had just come from 120 degree Arizona heat to California which was barely 100 degrees so hot outside was NOT California, HAAA!  I said I love to work outside why?  What came next was the big phrase that I thought I would never hear….. Good! would you like start working here tomorrow, your job will be  brushing latex into a giant Dinosaur mold and he pointed outside to two half molds of a full sized T-Rex ! WOOOOOOOOOOO  Oh yes I would love to, and he said; OK then see ya tomorrow at 7:00, and how does $7.00 an hour sound… That sounds Awesome Grant, Thanks and I will see you tomorrow I said and off I went to get ready for the big day!!!!  What an unbelievable time! So on Thursday August 1st 1985 Grant McCune brought me into the world of VFX and one  young boy’s dreams came true.  I called my boss at Bayless markets and gave my two week notice over then phone and the sound of cheers rang out from everyone standing by the phone on the Arizona side of the line.

Grant was a great boss, and you couldn’t really call him that because he was more a friend than a boss.  Always quick with a joke and a laugh, he loved his job and he so gracefully shared all of what he knew with you.  Everybody loved Grant and also working at Apogee; it was a place that felt more like a house full of your favorite relatives than a job. There was really no division between the high end and the low end of the crew, and everyone there was incredibly talented and a joy to be around.  Grant was a music lover and was ever so fond of the Gypsy Kings, Linda Rondstant, Leon Redbone, Patsy Cline, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.  Every morning when he would get in, we would all be blessed by a shout from the door, DOES EVERYONE LOVE THEIR JOB, followed by one of his tunes.  Frech fries and breakfest burritos were next in a day of usual favorites.  “Invaders from Mars”, “Top Gun”, and “Spaceballs” were my first movies working with Grant and and through him I met some of my very best friends, Cory and Allen Faucher, Pete Gerrard, Glen Campbell, Bill and John Shourt,  Robert Beilmere, James Spencer, Pat Denver, David Dryer, Lisa Wise, Debbie Nicoles, Carolyn Diltz, Mike Yost, Greg Jein, Monty Shook, and way too many others to mention here.  As Hollywood goes, there would be times where the modelshop crew would float from Apogee to Boss Films, DreamQuest Images, Fantasy II, LA Effects group, and up north to ILM for other jobs, but we would all gladly come back to Grant and Apogee.

The CGI world started to become the way of the future in the early 90′s and by about 1994 (it was provide it or die), which made up the new Hollywood attitude and about this time all the major model shops where coming to an end.  Apogee’s final days were in 1995, and as the major VFX company closed it’s doors (literally over night), Grant retained his side of the company and formed his own VFX house under the new name of Grant McCune designs. Fifteen years later his company still stands and does various jobs for films and also in the capacity for specialty props and collectables.  Grant was a master photographer as well and he had a darkroom set up at work which he was turning into his daughter Lilly’s new darkroom over the last month or so.  Grant also had  a full shop at his house and he would commute back and forth between the two with goods and parts created for whatever the current project was.  There was nothing that he couldn’t do with his hands and imagination, and he so loved what he did!!!  Grant’s wife Kathy was the subject of many of his photo themes and she was always quick with a tip on nutrition.  Their children, son Cole and daughter Lilly were always around, and it was always a pleasure to see the McCune family in the shop.  Grant was an extremely generous, kind, and grateful man and was always there to talk to and lend some advice no matter what the subject was.  He was like a second father to me; he was my friend, my buddy, and a man I loved dearly.  He will be missed deeply and his passing came way to quickly and the reality of this is not setting in easily with all of us who knew him.  Life is oh so fragile so be sure to tell those around you that you love them often.  Kathy McCune and all the gang at GMD want to carry on with what Grant had started and happily his shop will be staying open. It will always be a landmark of where the true magic of working in the movies began for all of those that worked and visited there.

God bless you dear friend Grant, and love to Kathy, Cole, and Lilly.

Here are some pictures of Grant at work and, as soon as I can find all of mine, I’ll be sure to do an update.

Grant came to Scottsdale Arizona to do a talk on VFX and this was the cover story from our local paper. This still hangs in my office today.

on the set of Firefox, second in from left to right, Clint Eastwood, at the other end of the camera boom is John Dykstra and next to the firefox model is Grant

Grant dropping the blockade runner's escape pod thru the launch tube, from Star Wars

from Star Wars Grant works on the Imperial Star Destroyer

Star Wars, Grant assembling the blockade runner

Grant goofing around with an X-wing

this is from the 10th anniversary of Star Wars and a big reunion of all the VFX folks showed up at Apogee to celebrate, Grant's in the middle bottom row

21
May
10

may 21st 2010, the 30th anniversary of George Lucas’s & Irvin Kershner’s “the empire strikes back”

This is one anniversary that I find totally impossible to believe!!!! It literally seems like yesterday that this movie was in the theaters!!! Man I’m old, HAAA! Anyways  it is now 30!!!!! 1980 was my senior year at Thunderbird High school in Phoenix Arizona and we had a week to go before we graduated. The 21st was on a Wednesday (the middle of the school week) and we were heavy into finals, and all I wanted to do was to sneak out to see the “Empire” on opening day. The anticipation for this movie was major and it was an unsettling feeling that school and work had to come first,,, In Phoenix there was a grand theater called the Cine Capri and it had the exclusive rights to be the only theater in town to show the movie,, the same was true with Star Wars three years earlier with lines of people wrapping around the building for months, this was a normal site as you would drive past the Capri. No different with the opening of the “The Empire”. It to had just as many folks camping out for days before the release. While at school the news was on in one of our classes and the hot story was the massive crowd in line around the theater. The news camera stopped on three high school students studying, Haaaa! or at least acting like they were because of the cameras, Getting a good look at their faces it was obvious that the three were from our class!!!! OOOOW-WAAAH it was like being friends with Neil Armstrong and watching him walk on the moon!!! Our boys had breached the line and were going to be in the first show!!! Tim Ray was one of the guys there and I can’t recall who the others were but we were all screaming and laughing as we saw them on the tube!!! After school which was about 1:00 my friend Mark Zainer and I ran down to the theater and waited in line for like six hours to find out that every show was sold out except for a couple of seats at the midnight show,,,,,we grabbed em and then had to hang out close to the Capri for the next 5 hours until it was midnight.  We discovered a mall about a block or two away called the Town and Country and found an awesome Philly Cheese Steak sandwich place, we ate under this really cool metal and stone sculpture of the Phoenix Bird (the very same sculpture that was used for the logo on the Phoenix warp ship from Star Trek First Contact)  Time drug ever so slowly and every two hours or so we would listen to the cheers, applause and excitement as the crowds would flow out of the exits of the theaters!!!! Finally our time came and as you walked thru the lobby the walls were covered with these beautiful prints of all the Ralph McQuarrie art from the film, I so wanted to jump line and go get a closer look but I wasn’t going to let go of my spot in line. Once in we were making our way down the long rows of seats and we wound up in the third row center.  What was nice about the Capri was that every seat was great as we would soon find out…. The front row had at least 20 feet before you got to the screen and the screen itself was curved to accommodate those big surround films of the 60′s. all the seats had a high back that your head fit in and the slope of the floor gave you an almost totally unobscured view of the screen.. It was almost 12:30 before the lights went down and the big curtains opened,,,, The hiss and pop of the analog speakers started up and the crowd was screaming!!!!  Daaaaaa Da Da,,,,, Daaaaaa Da Da,,,, the fox theme started to roll then the silent frame hit the screen,   A Long time ago in a galaxy far far away,,,,,,,,,,,, BOOOOM the mighty John Williams score took over as the big Star Wars logo zoomed out into space followed by,,,,,,, WHAT!!!!!!  Episode V!!!!!!!!! Everyone was looking around  and babbling to each other trying to figure out what that meant and how did we all miss episodes 2,3, and 4,,,, the mystery was quickly dismissed as the words scrolled on by,,, the lone Star destroyer entered the frame launching little probes in all directions and in that first couple of shots you could tell the models and VFX had come to a new level of detail and perfection. For the next two hours We all screamed, laughed and were in awe at what we saw on the screen….The Tauntans  running across the frozen waists,,,the motion sickness that came with the the snow speeder’s POV following the snowy terrain looking for Solo and SkyWalker, the wonder as the Falcon Turns space into a 360 degree arena to fly in as he try’s to escape the Empire… The incredibly dizzying ride thru the asteroid field,,, and the countless other magical moments!!!! The city in the clouds, the introduction of Boba Fett, and his ship the Slave One, the romantic moments of Leia and Solo all surrounded by one of John Williams finest scores… The movie was opening up all these new doors and so many under stories were going on at the same time that I didn’t want it to ever end,,, I was gearing up for what was going to happen next. The crowd was all blown away with the Vader being Luke’s dad and the slicing off of his hand with a saber!!! Holly Cow this movie is SO out of control,,,in a good way that is…… We were all watching the medical frigate pass by , catching our breaths and gearing up for what was going to happen next. the big ship starts to turn away from the camera and boom the ending credits hit the screen!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! I screamed like my own hand had been cut off!!! NOOOOOOO, IT CANT END HERE!!!! the crowd was all a mix of hoops and hollers and I wanted to watch it again that moment! My Buddy Mark and I talked about it for hours,,  and we went back quite a few more times to see it again and again.. after a while Mark burned out so I turned to my buddy  from art class Linda Gurney who was a huge fan herself, we defiantly had a good time and boy did she jump when the Mineocks flew by the window of the Falcon,,I did nothing to add to that scary moment,,, like a little slap to her arm, HEEEEE-HEEE- HAWWWW what fun memories!!!! To this day TESB is still my favorite of all SCI FI films and personally I think it is a perfect film…. Irvin Kershner’s storytelling magic is what brought all the elements together to make a motion picture Masterpiece… Rarely to never is part two as good as the original let alone better but In my personal opinion “The Empire Strikes Back”, “The Road Warrior”, “Star Trek II the Wrath of Kahn”and “The Dark Knight” are the only three movies that soar high above the originals. The Empire played at the Capri solid for close to a year and and I can’t even remember how many times I went,,, Sitting in that theater that first night I had my destiny set and walking out I knew I had to work in the movies,,, many films added to that encouragement for the next five years but the Empire was the one that took the dream out of the idea box and made it a passion. I owe a great deal to George Lucas, Irwin Kirshner, and especially Joe Johnson, Nilo Rodis, Ralph McQuarrie and all the rest of those incredibly talented folks, (many of which are now friends which I still find amazing)  It was a magical time for movies to be sure, and my thoughts often go back to the summer of 1980. on a side note I met Kersh when we were making the pilot of SeaQuest, Irvin was brought on as the director and I was there to help flesh out the story into drawings along with Richard Lewis, and Jim Lima. One day He brought in his 35mm copy of “Empire”and we all watched it at the Amblin theater and it is one of my fondest experiences working in Hollywood having Kershner talk over his own film!!!!! On top of his directorial talents Kersh is a very funny man and it was always fun to go over to his flat when he had some ideas to be drawn up or to fix his stop motion puppet from Robocop II. I’ll have to drop him a line today to wish him a happy 30th!!!! Well with all that said here are some pics snagged from the internet!!! I just upgraded my mac with snow leopard and am finding out that a LOT of programs no longer work with the upgrade…. I just found out tonight that DVD capture no longer works so all the pics I wanted to pull or not going to be a part of todays story!!! AH-HMMMMMM! So now that that unhappy moment has been discussed, the pictures you are going to see first are of the two posters for “Empire”, the US theatrical release one sheet, and the Australian poster, I love both of them and find it hard to pick a fav so here they are. Next is a picture or two of the Cine Capri followed by the Phoenix bird and then a few grabs from the film,, The final picture is of an awesome young lady  who took Wonderfest by storm!!! I was sitting at my table at Wonderfest and across the room strolls a female bounty hunter in a very custom & cool modified Bobba Fett outfit… I ran over got a couple of pictures, and out from under the helmet came a gal named Jessie…. Jes is obviously a big fan of Star Wars, so much so that she created her own version of  the infamous bounty hunter with some generous nods to Bobba Fett while making this outfit completely here own. Jes has really done an awesome job at creating her own character, not only in appearance but also in her motions and gestures….  She packs a mighty big blaster and is a master with some very sharp blades,,, After the Fest was over on Sunday night we did a quick photo shoot in the convention room so stay tuned for lots more.  Jessie had her best friend with her to keep everything together with pins,velcro & tape,  I found out later that her dad was also cruising the show in his very own home made HALO suit,, what a cool and uniquely fun family!!!  OK then time to sign off so ENJOY all the pictures  and Happy 30th to “THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK”

the poster US

Cine Capri

That awesome Capri screen

the Phoenix from Town and Country

This was the first piece of McQuarrie art we saw in the lobby

wow what a huge and cool set

one of those awesome speeder shots

those way cool walkers

Vader at his best!

were going in closer to one of the big ones

the cockpit

Yoda

every geek had a big crush on Carrie Fisher, She had two big movies out in the summer of 80 and looked gorgeous in both,,, the other one was the Blues Brothers

interview the bounty hunters,,, Fett stood out even in this scene,, everyone wanted to Fett to be the best

approaching Bespin

models and paintings,, looks awfully darned real to me!!!

next to the Falcon this is the greatest space ship design ever

and we end with the coolest of the bad guys

jessie-Fett

Jessie and company!




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