Robert Watts on producing Star Wars, Indiana Jones and more

  • Den of Geek
Interview Ryan Lambie 8 Oct 2013 - 06:19

We talk to producer Robert Watts about his remarkable career in movies, which includes the Star Wars trilogy, Roger Rabbit and more...

With a career stretching back to the 1960s, British film producer Robert Watts played a key role in making some of the most influential films of the 1970s. Just a quick glance over his credits as a producer reveals an extraordinary career, which includes Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and its sequels, the first three Indiana Jones films, and the groundbreaking Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Those films are but the tip of the iceberg; before Star Wars, he worked on two James Bond films - Thunderball and You Only Live Twice - collaborated with Stanley Kubrick on 2001: A Space Odyssey, and, in films such as Man In The Middle, Darling and Papillon, worked with such legendary actors as Robert Mitchum,
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Philip Hinchcliffe on producing Doctor Who, Tom Baker, special effects, Russell T Davies, Big Finish audio plays & more…

  • Den of Geek
Interview Louisa Mellor 3 Sep 2013 - 07:00

Philip Hinchcliffe, Doctor Who producer 1974 - 1977, chats about Tom Baker, villains, visual FX, companions, the 2005 revival, & more…

A week or so ago in a Brighton basement, Den of Geek attended a fun evening organised by the - aptly named, in this instance - arts and entertainment group, Space.

A regular Brighton-based event, Space regularly welcomes luminaries from the creative world to talk to its intimate group. Past guests have been from the world of film and television (Mark Gatiss, Toby Whithouse, Nicholas Roeg, David Morrissey, The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception visual effects artist Paul Franklin, Star Wars, Superman and Raiders of the Lost Ark production designer Norman Reynolds), literature (Ian Rankin), and music (William Orbit, Skunk Anansie’s Skin, Goldie).

There are two Q&As per event, and opportunities to ask questions in an informal, friendly and geeky atmosphere, making the nights well worth the £8 advance ticket price.
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Constructive Concepts: A conversation with production designer Gavin Bocquet

Trevor Hogg chats with production designer Gavin Bocquet...

“I did my first degree at Newcastle University,” states British Production Designer Gavin Bocquet. “They recommended that I do the Post Graduate course in 3D Design at the Royal College of Art. I was fortunate enough to be accepted.” The renowned academic institution counts three-time Oscar-winner Stuart Craig (Gandhi) amongst its alumni. “Stuart wanted someone to design the props and control panels for Saturn 3 [1980]; he thought that a Product Designer would be a good person to do that. Stuart advertised at the Royal College and I went for the job.” A long standing creative partnership was established between the two countrymen. “Stuart was one of my mentors and I worked with him five times; he taught me most things I know about being a Production Designer.”

Hired to work on the final installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, the young
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Interview: Robert Watts, Producer of Star Wars & Indiana Jones!

It’s 30 years since Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’ extraordinary archaeologist creation Indiana Jones first cracked his whip and swung on to the screen in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). The character and the series of films that followed created a cinematic hero that virtually everybody loves: a character and a franchise that remain as popular today as they did upon release.

At a recent special screening that filled the small Picture House cinema that housed the event to celebrate the 30th anniversary, I had the pleasure of meeting the producer behind the series, Robert Watts. Watts is a prolific British producer who has been involved in everything from the Star Wars franchise, to the James Bond films and other notable productions such as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988).

Follow the jump to read the full interview, where we talk all things Indy and Star Wars,
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10 Pieces of Movie Memorabilia Fans Lust Over!

Ok, so this week’s Top 10 may seem a little random, but inspired by the purchasing of a few new vintage movie posters (I’m an avid collector!) and the approach of Profiles in History’s 44th Hollywood Auction this Saturday, I began to think about some of the most cherished pieces of movie memorabilia that fans would surely love to own. We all have a favourite film star, director, franchise or standalone film, which lead the movie memorabilia trade to boom as people found they had much more extra cash over the economically kind years between the 80s and mid 00s. This Saturday will see those lucky enough to still be in this position, battling over the real Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (estimated to sell for between $1-2million!), James Dean’s tweed jacket from Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Jeff Bridges’ ‘The Dude’ jumper from The Big Lebowski
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Empire Building: The Making of The Empire Strikes Back

Following the recent passing of director Irvin Kershner, Trevor Hogg explores the development of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back...

“For many fans and cinephiles, Empire is the best of the Star Wars movies, dark and enigmatic – the film noir of the saga,” writes author J.W. Rinzler in the introduction of his latest effort The Making of The Empire Strikes Back – a detailed exploration into the production of the science fiction-fantasy film; together with The Godfather: Part II it is considered to be the gold standard for movie sequels. However, the critical and box office success of the acclaimed second installment, which established American filmmaker George Lucas as an independent studio mogul and caused him to rebuild his special effects company Industrial Light & Magic, was far from being a forgone conclusion. “Many Ilm veterans cite it as the toughest film of their careers,” observed Rinzler of
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Film review: 'Empire Strikes Back'

Film review: 'Empire Strikes Back'
Episode five of the "Star Wars" saga (grandly designed as nine films), "The Empire Strikes Back" is unquestionably the best installment of 20th Century Fox's science fiction trilogy and arguably the crowning achievement of the fantasy-adventure genre reinvented in the 1970s and '80s by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

Destined for boxoffice glory in its rerelease as part of the hugely successful "Stars Wars Trilogy Special Edition," director Irvin Kershner's 1980 sequel to Lucas' 1977 boxoffice powerhouse is beautifully crafted, intelligently scripted and holds up very well.

Indeed, there were not many missteps in its original incarnation. Although there are no major new scenes, "Empire" nonetheless benefits from minor additions and tinkering by Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic (new views of the Cloud City are breathtaking), as well as the improved and remastered soundtrack.

From one of John Williams' finest scores to Norman Reynolds' excellent production design (both were nominated for Academy Awards) to its Oscar-winning sound and special effects, "Empire" continues the "Star Wars" story with an action-packed space opera that has the far-from-invulnerable rebel heroes barely surviving several new clashes with the oppressive Empire.

A major element of "Empire" that's an improvement on "Star Wars" is the film's overall visual scheme. From the superb work of cinematographer Peter Suschitzky ("Mars Attacks!") to the more attractive costuming and hair styles, "Empire" presents a more consistently compelling and wondrous array of planets, space battles and exotic interiors, not to mention many creatures and nonhuman characters, including a lovable and useful pair of robots (Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker), the growly Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and the diminutive sage Yoda (Frank Oz).

Based on Lucas' original story, the script by science-fiction writer Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan incorporates the first film's sometimes goofy characters but keeps the humor to a minimum. Hiding on Hoth, a remote and icy planet, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) are a team on the verge of breaking up.

Jedi Knight-in-training Luke gets a message from the specter of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), while Han has plans to pay off his debts. Enter again merciless Darth Vader (David Prowse, with James Earl Jones' voice), obsessed with finding Luke. Hoth is assaulted and the trio is split up.

One terrific thrill follows another. Han and Leia in the Millennium Falcon zip through an asteroid field, Luke crashes a speeder into the snow and an X-wing fighter into the swamps of a jungle planet. The viewer is taken for quite a ride, but the characterizations and plot developments are also richly satisfying.

Lucas' cinematic universe will never be confused with the serious science fiction of the Frank Herbert/Arthur C. Clarke variety, but in "Empire" there are many imaginative elements to the action -- and the interaction of humans and technology -- that are quite sophisticated for mainstream filmmaking.

Director Kershner proved to be the perfect choice to realize the somewhat darker thrust of "Empire", with its emphasis on Luke's struggle to resist Vader and the "dark side" of the Force.

A film without the usual upbeat payoff, "Empire" instead offers the brilliantly executed fight between Vader and Luke in the Cloud City's reactor shaft. Along with the capture of Han Solo and the unexpected help of his pal Lando Calrissian Billy Dee Williams), revelations about Luke's father and hints of Leia's Jedi abilities give one plenty to chew on while waiting for next month's rerelease of "Return of the Jedi".


20th Century Fox

A Lucasfilm Ltd. production

Director Irvin Kershner

Producer Gary Kurtz

Writers Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan

Executive producer George Lucas

Music John Williams

Director of photography Peter Suschitzky

Production designer Norman Reynolds

Editor Paul Hirsch

Costume designer John Mollo

Sound Ben Burtt



Luke Skywalker Mark Hamill

Han Solo Harrison Ford

Princess Leia Carrie Fisher

Lando Calrissian Billy Dee Williams

Obi-Wan Kenobi Alec Guinness

C-3PO Anthony Daniels

R2D2 Kenny Baker

Chewbacca Peter Mayhew

Darth Vader David Prowse

Running time -- 127 minutes

MPAA rating: PG

See also

Credited With | External Sites