Producer Rick McCallum is following George Lucas’ lead and leaving Lucasfilm after 20 years with the company.I had the opportunity to meet McCallum at the London premiere of The Phantom Menace, he was charismatic and polite (he made quite an impression on my mother), and while many see him as a Lucas ‘Yes Man’, I feel that he had an important role in bringing the Star Wars prequels to the screen. He came from a low-budget independent background and his work on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was a testing ground for many of the effects used in the Star Wars prequels.
McCallum was the producer behind such Lucasfilm productions as The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (a great show), The Radioland Murders (a bomb, but an enjoyable little movie), the Star Wars Special Editions (God, remember those times) the Star Wars prequels and most recently Red Tails.
This is what George Lucas had to say about McCallum’s departure:
“Rick is a close friend as well as an extremely talented producer. No matter how impossible I made the task, Rick was able to overcome the challenges. In addition to putting together great crews and working miracles with the budget, he was instrumental in helping push filmmaking into the 21st century. He has a larger-than-life personality and made this amazing 20-year journey with him a fun one.
We had hit the limit of production technology, and I needed someone with conviction and passion to help us into the digital realm. Rick became an evangelist for the endless possibilities digital technology offered filmmakers. Rick and I fought many battles side-by-side, constantly facing nay-sayers who were convinced we could never make the lasting changes in the movie business that we set out to make. I cannot be more proud of what Rick accomplished. We worked with over 60 companies and hundreds of amazing engineers and artists over a 10-year period to bring about overdue changes: now digital cameras routinely capture images, films are released digitally, and the entire production pipeline maintains unprecedented quality by being digital. As I go off to make my own experimental films — and I hope to be able to collaborate with Rick again on one of these projects — I wish him the best and look forward to seeing his new films.”
McCallum said this about their professional relationship:
“It’s a producer’s job to make possible a director’s vision, whatever that may be. George never let the limits of reality constrain his vision, so the challenge to production was always to find ways to make anything possible, while being respectful to the fact that he was financing his own movies. To do that, we needed to keep that independent filmmaking mentality that requires you to innovate and improvise, while making movies of enormous scale.”
It appears that it is out with the old and in with the new following Lucasfilm’s sale to Disney, but it doesn’t look like McCallum is leaving the film business behind. The producer has moved to his wife’s home city of Prague (where much of the filming for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles took place) and he is set to return to the realm of independent producing, working on more ‘challenging’ material, McCallum said:
“I have a Russian film about the Babi Yar Massacre in development that is being directed by Sergei Loznitsa. I am also working with Tomás Masín on a Czech story about two brothers who escaped Czechoslovakia during the Cold War while being chased by 28,000 Soviet soldiers in what is still the largest manhunt in history. I’m also working on a film with David Oyelowo and developing a film with Laurence Bowen about the Boy Soldiers of Sierra Leone.”
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Source: Star Wars