Imagine being involved in some of the most famous movies and some of the most famous filmmakers of all time.
Have you ever heard of Howard Kazanjian? He's a film producer whose career spans over 50 years, and he has collaborated with Hollywood legends such as Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Sam Peckinpah, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas. He worked on classics like The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Return of the Jedi.
Kazanjian doesn't give a lot of interviews, so when he speaks, it makes sense to listen.
He has a new memoir about his life, Howard Kazanjian: A Producer's Life, written by J.W Rinzler, which was just released on Sept. 21, and is in stores now.
Check out this interview from The Writer Experience Podcast, and let's talk after the jump.
I think when you're starting in Hollywood, it would be nice to have a mentor as kind, generous, and connected as Alfred Hitchcock! I loved hearing about his set dress code and the way he conducted himself. Those little nuggets are what make conversations like this special.
Some of the most interesting anecdotes in this hour come from his early days at Lucasfilm, from introducing George Lucas to Francis Ford Coppola when he was working on Finian's Rainbow, to how he turned down working with George Lucas three times on THX1138, American Graffiti, and then Star Wars, which is bonkers since he eventually became VP of Lucasfilm.
I also loved hearing about the budget challenges on The Empire Strikes Back. It's amazing to think even the sequel to the biggest film of all time would go through these struggles. He flew to London for the last two weeks of shooting, mostly Yoda scenes, to totally restructure the budget and restructure ILM, and then he became VP of all production when he basically saved part of the movie. That takes guts!
As the resident writing nerd here, I loved hearing about the screenwriting process for Return of the Jedi.
Did you know George Lucas wrote the first draft while at the same time Lawrence Kasdan was writing a draft of the same movie? Then they came together, discussed their drafts, and went back out, did another run on their drafts, and they came back, and then George Lucas did the final polish. So they just combined the best ideas and really collaborated with every decision.
This deep dive into Kazanjian's life is rife with special Hollywood moments and anecdotes. What were your favorite parts? Let us know in the comments.
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