Film producer recalls his work on Star Wars and Indiana Jones

Film producer Robert Watts was behind the scenes for some of the greatest films ever made.

Monday, 2nd July 2018, 8:03 am
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 4:59 pm
Robert Watts
Robert Watts

His work on the first three Star Wars films and the Indiana Jones trilogy earned him worldwide acclaim – memories he will be sharing on a special afternoon in Worthing.Robert will be reminiscing in the Assembly Hall on Sunday, July 8 from 1.45pm (tickets from Worthing Theatres).

“I love doing this kind of event,” Robert says. “It’s like travelling through time. I am fortunate enough to have had a nice career. It has been a fascinating time, and this gives me an opportunity to give back. I have received so much from my career, and I don’t mean financially. I mean that I have had a wonderful time. I went through a period in the 60s and 70s that was wonderful.

“I began in the film industry in 1960. I began as a runner. That was the only way in. There was no film school in those days. My film school was the school of life, and it was brilliant. I was learning on the job.

“I did two James Bond films, but I would say one of the most significant films I worked on in the 1960s was 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was Stanley Kubrick making a masterpiece which has remained a masterpiece through to this day. A masterpiece is something that survives through all the years and still looks fresh, and 2001: A Space Odyssey does that. It is hard to predict which films will do that, but I was thrilled to be working with Stanley Kubrick. I was also a fan at the time, and he was great. I loved working with him. He was so inventive and so creative. You could see it happening in front of you, and the added plus was that Stanley Kubrick introduced me to George Lucas.”

And from that flowed the Star Wars films.

“When we made it, we didn’t quite expect what actually happened. 20th Century Fox were the financers behind it and gave us a terribly hard time while we were making it about the money we were spending. When it opened, they doubled their price on Wall Street!

“George Lucas brought everything together, and he did it at the right time. The timing was absolutely right. Prior to Star Wars, one of the reasons Fox was so worried was because sci-fi was box office poison.

“There had not been a successful sci-fi film for a long time. They were deeply concerned that this was going to be $11 million dollars or whatever down the train. But Lucas had a vision which worked at the perfect time. We made the film using a technology called motion control that had not been available before. We could do shots with models that we hadn’t been able to do on 2001: A Space Odyssey. We had the ability to move around them, and it made a big difference.

“But the most important thing in a film, regardless of the kind of film, is the story.

“You have got to have something that grabs you, and that’s what Star Wars did. George Lucas came up with a story that was fantastic.”

Robert was production supervisor on the first Star Wars film and associate producer on the next two.