After huge success with their first Q&A featuring Paul Franklin (Visual Effects supervisor on Interstellar), Soundstage Events returned to The Others in Stoke Newington for more insightful fun. Last night they welcomed Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back producer Gary Kurtz and music supremo DJ Yoda for a Star Wars-themed night.
First up was the very entertaining DJ Yoda (aka Duncan Beiny) who spoke about his career thus far and how he got to perform around the world.
DJ Yoda can be found cutting the Indiana Jones theme with dubstep or The Muppet Show theme with MIA. His shows include film, TV and YouTube samples with visuals that lift his sets to new heights.
He is closely affiliated with Antidote Records, a cutting-edge hip-hop label and has gained many scratch-DJ accolades. A demo mixtape fell into the hands of Antidote, who offered to create an official CD mix for release. The result was the popular ‘DJ Yoda’s How to Cut & Paste Mix Tapes’ album series.
Beiny was very insightful about the music industry and gave very funny accounts of all the diverse venues he’s performed at. His musical influences were also a great part of the talk, with Beiny taking inspiration from every thread of the music world – be it DJ Shadow or Stock, Aitken & Waterman. DJ Yoda was a real delight and we can’t wait to see what he does next.
Next up was Gary Kurtz. After collaborating with George Lucas on American Graffiti, Gary played a key role in the phenomenal Star Wars: A New Hope as its producer. He then oversaw the production of The Empire Strikes Back, Gary’s final collaboration with Lucas before working with Muppet creator Jim Henson on 1982’s seminal classic The Dark Crystal. He also helped on Slipstream, which also starred Star Wars’ Mark Hamill.
In this exclusive interview, Kurtz largely discussed his role in the making of the first two Star Wars films and his thoughts on the others in the series.
It came as a welcome sight to see Kurtz talk about the prequel trilogy. He isn’t a fan and basically shared every one of our grievances on why they didn’t match up to the original trilogy. He likes certain parts of all three prequels but as a whole, they don’t hold up. He then spoke about The Force Awakens and how he attended a set-visit recently. He walked the corridors of the Millennium Falcon and described how that felt, given it’s been over 3 decades since he first walked around the set of the gigantic vessel. He couldn’t go into too much detail but he said he liked what he saw and that he was very impressed with the new teaser trailer (that basically broke the internet when it launched last week).
Kurtz has so many great stories about shooting both Star Wars and Empire, including tales from Tunisia, getting the project green-lit and what inspired them to come up with the story of Star Wars in the first place. He spoke about the large influence the old Flash Gordon serials had and how they wanted Star Wars to distance itself from the dystopian science-fiction that was dominating the cinematic landscape at the time.
Kurtz also spoke about why he left George Lucas after lengthy disagreements in the plot direction of Return of the Jedi. Kurtz explained that the original ending was much more sombre but certainly felt in line with Empire. It included Han Solo dying, Leia fulfilling her royal duties and Luke riding off into the distance ‘like Clint Eastwood’! After a great question from one of the audience, Kurtz also spoke about Marcia Lucas, George’s ex-wife, who had played a very important role in the making of Star Wars. But due to an acrimonious split, her role has been greatly downplayed ever since. He expressed his disappointment that her contribution to Star Wars isn’t properly recognised.
He also discussed his other work, with The Dark Crystal a particular favourite. It was a mammoth endeavour and he said it was the most technically-challenging movie that has ever been made. There will also never be another film made like it, so it remains quite unique to this day. It took around 7 years just for all the puppets to be made and every single creature was controlled by a puppeteer or by remote. Everything was tangible and as a result, shooting the movie was very challenging. He also spoke about his work with Roger Corman and how he learnt so much of his trade on those films.
It was such a refreshing change to get a Star Wars interview which was so candid. Thanks must also go to SoundStage’s brilliant host Wayne Imms, a self-confessed Star Wars aficionado, who kept the evening very light and entertaining throughout.
For future event info and to buy tickets to their forthcoming events, check out the Soundstage Events website here.
For more on DJ Yoda, check out his official website http://www.djyoda.co.uk/
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