Yes. It’s time. A story about an adventure. It all starts with a young boy named Luke who loved a great adventure. Early in his his life he developed a passion for something that involves risk, adrenaline, and an adventurous spirit. Drag racing. He dreamed of one day becoming a professional race-car driver. What could be better than doing what you love to do and get paid for it? Though he was more than determined to make this dream a reality, something unexpected happened just after his high school graduation that changed things. Luke had gotten involved with drag racing in an underground circuit and he looked forward to every race he could possibly watch or race himself. But in one of those races he got into an accident. A bad one. Another driver hit him and his car flipped, nearly killing him. Now as scary and horrifying as close calls like this are (and most of us have had at least one in our lives), one good thing we can say about them is that they can change our perspective on life and clarify for us what really is important. And this is what happened to Luke. His life changed and so did his passion. He now saw drag racing as something that involved risk, adrenaline, adventure and danger–a danger that was just too life-threatening to Luke. He lost that dream and decided to search for something else.
So Luke decided the best next step was to go to college. He studied many subjects, but one of them grabbed his attention more than the others. It was a film making class. He started out filming drag races and just couldn’t get enough of using his camera to capture events and tell stories. So he transferred to another college that specialized in cinematic arts and there he made friends with a classmate named Steve. He and Steve shared a great deal when it came to movies. They loved them, of course, but they also both loved to be creative with film, to explore and experiment with it.
Luke did so well in his studies that he landed a sweet scholarship from Warner Bros. It involved an internship where he was to choose a movie that was in the making, spend time with the director, and observe the movie being made (thereby learning the skills of the trade). The movie he chose was being directed by none other than Francis Ford Coppola. Luke didn’t know that just four years later Coppola would write and direct one of the greatest movies of all time, The Godfather.
As you can imagine, Luke learned a lot watching that movie being made. He made his first movie, which was an extension of one he’d made in cinema school. It didn’t go over very well. But the next one he made did well enough to be nominated in five different categories at the Academy Awards in 1973. Luke, a big fan of storytelling, decided it was the right time to tell a fantastic story that he was hoping to tell through the medium of film. It would be a space story patterned after one of his favourites, Flash Gordon. He decided to call one of the main characters Luke, after himself. You probably figured out by now that Luke was just his nick-name growing up. His first name was actually George and his nickname was short for his last name, Lucas.
Getting funding for his new movie was difficult. but Luke was determined. He made his movie and had a lot of fun doing it. But on the weekend that it was to open in theatres, Luke was far from the scene. Every time he made a new movie he preferred to make himself scarce on opening night to avoid the attention, and perhaps even more so, the criticism. He traveled to Hawaii and spent the weekend there. Lo and behold Luke’s movie was a huge success. Star Wars would become the highest grossing movie that summer. It even became the highest grossing film of all time!
While in Hawaii, Luke relaxed with an old friend of his: Steve. Steve, too liked to make movies. And like Luke he was a master at it. While in Hawaii missing all the Star Wars hooplah Luke and Steve started talking about movies. Luke shared how he enjoyed 1930’s action film serials. It was there in Hawaii waiting for Star Wars hype to calm down that the two of them came up with the idea of making a movie called Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Luke called the main character “Indiana” after his dog and had originally wanted the last name to be “Smith,” but Steve didn’t like it. Seeing as Luke wanted his character to be seen as a regular everyday sort of guy and wanted his name to reflect that, he decided to choose the next obvious choice when “Smith” is taken out of the mix: Jones.
Though his friend Steve enjoyed the adventure of making this film as much as Luke did, he saw it as a B movie in the making, having no idea how great the end product would really be. In fact, in 2008 Empire Magazine made a list of the greatest movies of all time and there on this list was Luke and Steve’s snake infested, face-melting movie. It made it all the way to #2, being beat out only by Luke’s internship mentor, Francis Ford Coppola: The Godfather.
It’s hard not to be inspired by George “Luke” Lucas and his audacity to try and make a living doing what he loves. He found something that involved risk, adrenaline and adventure. And I can’t be grateful enough to him for creating such a great character and story as Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I may hate snakes like Indiana does, but I love this movie.
Congratulations Raiders of the Lost Ark. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Lorraine Bracco in Goodfellas.
Best Actor: Al Pacino in The Godfather Part II.
Best Quote: Tie: “You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little bleeped up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to bleepin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny? What, do you got me on a bleepin’ pay-no-mind list kid?” (Goodfellas) and “I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart!” (The Godfather Part II)
By the way, it was during shooting breaks on the set of this movie that Steve began writing a new script with Melissa Matheson: ET, the Extra-Terrestrial, a movie I saw in the theatre with none other than James Carruthers, the man celebrating his birthday this week. Happy birthday bro.