Managing Chaos!

By Andrew Gillies

May 11, 2012

Actors dying on set, getting held up at a Chinese border crossings at cost of $500,000 per day, having filming disrupted by floods, sandstorms, snowstorms, and diarrhea outbreaks: George Lucas has seen it all.

“In the movie business,” he told the closing session of ICI’s 54th General Membership Meeting, “every day, something is going to go wrong.” Lucas, founder of Lucasfilm, Ltd., was interviewed by Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson, ICI Governor and Chairman of ICI’s GMM Planning Committee.

Beyond the tales of woe, however, Lucas gave insights into how he has managed the chaos of the film business.

One is to think long-term. Lucas discussed how he turned down a large director’s fee for “Star Wars” in exchange for sequel and licensing rights. “I was concentrating on what I was going to do five years from now,” he said. “[The studio was] concentrating on next quarter.”

Another Lucas insight: ignore critics and those looking to micromanage. Lucas recalled his battles with studio executives who wanted to alter his movies. “I’ve spent my whole life cutting out that middle man so I can do whatever movie I want,” he said. “I win or lose on my own.”

Yet Lucas described the ability to work with others as essential. A focus of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, he noted, was social and emotional learning for young people. “If you really want to be successful in life, you have to know how to control your emotions.”