Why are you both director and executive producer for Episode One?
I would have been the executive producer whether or not I had chosen to direct this film. When considering whether or not to direct the new Star Wars film, I thought to myself if I really want this film done right then I should direct it myself. This film has been floating around in my head for twenty five or so years. It probably would have been unfair for me to have asked someone else to try to capture what I wanted to see on film. And it probably would have been an impossible burden for any other film maker to attempt. Ultimately, I wanted it to be on my shoulders and no one elses.
As executive producer (EP), what do you do?
The job of the EP is to hire a director, a screen writer and to make a deal with a studio to distribute the film. Apart from that, I watch over the entire production and troubleshoot when problems arise. One of my main contributions as EP is to rely on my knowledge of film making to make constructive suggestions to solve some of the production problems. I'm not fond of being EP. I'm only doing it as a means to an end. It's a job that really chose me. I became the EP out of necessity to make sure this film gets made exactly as I envision it.
Has the Episode One production gone over its original budget?
We have gone or will go over budget in some areas, but some of those are things that I wanted to improve. Sometimes you have to spend the extra money in order to make things right. You try to make the best movie you can within the budget limitations. You have to sometimes exceed that budget. It's important to know when to do that and when not to do it. With this film being so experimental in nature, I knew that certain cost overruns were inevitable. But since I'm self-financing this project getting additional funding is rather easy. (laughs)
Did you foresee where you would be today when making your first films?
Back then I never really thought about it that much. Until I had the success with American Graffiti, I was really just concerned about getting my next job. I wanted to become an established director so that when I arrived at the studio they would say: "Oh yes, this person is qualified to direct our movie." That was my primary concern. My profit participation in Grafitti took all those worries away. I had no idea all of this was going to happen.
What was the worst aspect of your early directing career?
With my early films, it was terrible to have the studio second-guessing you, looking at your dalies, telling you how you should direct the movie and then coming in at the end and recutting it. It's hardly your movie anymore. I've worked all my life getting to the point where I don't have to answer to Hollywood.
Why are you using a lot of the crew from the Young Indiana Jones show?
I assembled a very good crew for this production. Over the years we've had the advantage of developing a good crew by keeping the people who work out very well and getting new people if this or that person isn't doing that well. So after a while you wind up with a very good crew. But it does take a lot of time and a lot of hands-on experience to get to that stage. It's a big advantage to have the same crew who've worked together on other productions. They know each other, they know what to expect and how to deal with it and with each other. It's hard to put together a crew, have them all meet the first day and then make a high-quality film.
What made you choose to do Star Wars over Raiders in the mid-1970's?
I created Raiders as a three-film concept, then shelved it in favor of the more ambitious Star Wars. I was more into the mythological aspects of story telling at that time. Later, when Steven showed an interest in the Indiana Jones idea, I hired Larry to do the screen play, hired Steven to direct and made a deal with Paramount to finance and to distribute the film.
Do you create most of your ideas as three-film concepts?
Yes, I like to follow a narrative that has a beginning, a middle and an end.
Why not direct Indiana Jones 4 so that only you and Harrison Ford have to work out scheduling conflicts?
I may own the copyright to the series, but I believe the Indy films really belong to Steven. We won't make another one without him.
What if Steven calls you up one day and tells you that he wants you to direct Indy 4?
That's not going to happen, but it would make for an interesting conversation.