American Graffiti Notes (Beyond the Bay)
-Near death car crash at 17, figured he would be car mechanic or driver. (June ’62)
-THX1138 flop (cold, unemotional & didn’t connect with audience) $1.2M budget at WB
-Challenged by wife/friends to write traditional film/wanted to make abstract films/tone poems & collections of images. “I’m going to show you how easy it is to emotionally involve an audience.”
-Cerebral & detached directorial style
-Uncommunicative, no social graces
-Only response on set was “terrific. Now let’s do it again”
-“Im going to do my directing in the editing room”
-Believed first 5 minutes & last 25 minutes are the most important
-Offered movies like Tommy & Hair, based on musicals after release
-Lucas started writing Star Wars 1 month after screening. 3 months after opening Lucas was in Allen Ladd, Jr’s office at Fox. “I want to be in business with you”
-Determined to stand between Lucas & studio. Lucas was reluctant after debacle of THX that he blamed in large part on Coppola. Told Lucas everything was great. Told studio they were getting everything they were paying for.
-Absentee producer who didn’t see THX completed film until he watched with studio executives, who hated it. “Put the freaks up front”.
-Treatment: co-writers Gloria Katz & Willard Hyck write 15 page treatment that Lucas shopped around Hollywood. No takers. He flew to Caane & United Artists gave him $10k for development, which he sent to screenwriter who produced nothing he wanted, so he wrote it himself & brought back Katz & Hyck to punch up specific scenes before production began.
-Lucas wrote scenes set to songs (originally wanted 80 songs)
-Lucas used working title of “Another Quiet night in Modesto” as working title
-Stuidios turned down script, thinking songs would be too expensive
-Katz & Hyck didn’t like postscript title cards. Thought they were too morbid.
-Characters: Based on Lucas at various ages
-Curt: USC Years
-Steve: Junior College years
-John Milner: teenage street racing years
Terry the toad: Freshman year
-Fred Roos (Oscar for producing Godfather 2) Mayberry RFD & Andy Grif Show
-90% of movie is in the casting.
-responsible for casting Ford, Dreyfuss, Williams
-McKenzie Phillips. Only 12 Cal law dictated that Producer be legal guardian
-Harrison ford only agreed to part if he didn’t have to cut his hair. Came out of retirement from lucrative carpentry biz that supported wife & 2 kids
-Ron Howard & Cindy Williams: Williams 7 years older than Howard
-Paukl LeMat: boxer & part time actor. Character named after Jon Milius
-Candy Clark: Model, who came to reading in costume
-Kathleen Quinlen: first part. Recommended by HS drama teacher. Later received Oscar nom for Apollo 13 with Howard.
-Easy Rider led Universal to fund 5 films with bugets under $1,000,000
-Hired Hand, The Last Movie, Taking Off (all 1971)
-Silent Running & American Graffiti in 1972
-Budget: $600,000. Universal added $175k once Coppola signed on
-$80,000 of budget was for song rights (Elvis too expensive)
-Lucas received $25k, plus 25% points
-Coppola $25k, plus 10% net points form Uni & 15 points from Lucas
-San Rafel kicked production out after 1 day
-Moved to Patoluma, which locked more like Modesto
-28 days from 9pm to 6am (Lucas shot 6-10 script pages a night)-June of 1972
-Shot in secuence for the most part (sock hop scene & crash)
-Sock hop scene, including bathroom cut aways done in 1 day
-Charles Martin Smith actually crashed Vespa
-McKenzie Phillips laughed when hit in face by balloon
-Dimentia 13 on marquee
-300 (pre-’62) classic cars were used after ads in papers
-Thunderbird owner buffed car between takes & warned Sommers about
what not to touch, etc.
-Bob Falfa’s (H Ford) was the same car used in 2 Lane Blacktop.
-John Milner’s car license plate THX138
-Cruising uniquely American mating ritual
-Lucas initially used 2 camera operators & wanted to shoot dark, but they couldn’t get the look he wanted, so he brought in Haskell Wexler. He commuted for 5 weeks between LA & Petaluma, shooting commercials during the day
-Wexler used Richard Dreyfuss’ shirt as test pattern to set cameras.
-Shot in Technoscope, expanded 16MM
-Lucas’ hotel room set on fire
-Ford, Hopkins & LeMat always drunk. Ford kicked out. They climbed atop sign on roof.
-LeMat threw Dreyfuss into the pool gashing his head (induction scene shiner can be observed)
-1st cut by Lucas was 3 hours long. Cut down to 1 hour 50 minutes
-Universal executives (Ned Tanen) hated the film & thought it un-releasable
-Coppola offered to buy film from UNI at preview, whipping out checkbook, Tanen & Coppola didn’t speak for 20 years.
-Universal wanted to recut as TV movie
-Universal hated title & wanted to change it. Lucas refused
-“Rock Around the Block” or “Another Slow Night in Modesto”
-Northpoint Theatre in San Francisco on Jan 28, 1973
-Dream preview. Audience stood & applauded at completion
-Wolfman Jack worked for pirate radio station in Mexico ’64-’66. Avoided paying royalties, but powerful enough to be heard in Modesto
-Sold 3 million copies.
-41 of 43 songs used in the movie (Gee, by the Crows & Louie, Louie
-“World-izing music on soundtrack
-Coppola, the wonderkind, received most of the credit upon release
-Universal forced the removal of 3 scenes in initial release, but after Star Wars, Lucus insisted they be re-inserted for every future iteration
-Steve telling off the teacher at Dance
-Large chair with car salesmen
-Ford singing Some enchanted Evening
-70% of reviews were positive
-4 stories, told simultaneously was controversial
-#62 best film by AFI
-One of the most profitable films in Hollywood History, with $120M on $750k cost.
-Lucas called AG his “I, Vitollini” which led William Freidkin to say “My god, doesn’t he take himself so seriously.”
-Sequel: directed & written by Bill Norton, journeyman TV director. Flashback style.