George Lucas"I like being thought of as a toymaker who makes films." In the summer of 1971, George Lucas talked with critic / journalist / scholar Gene Youngblood for a program entitled "George Lucas: Maker of Films," which aired on public television station KCET in Los Angeles. Michael Heilemann of Binary Bonsai has made it available for online viewing, and it's a fascinating watch.

The interview takes place a few months after THX 1138, his first feature, opened and died a quick death at the box office. It would be two more years before American Graffiti ignited the box office and six years before Star Wars changed everything. Young Lucas was already mighty unhappy with the Hollywood studio system. Binary Bonsai provides context for his late 60s ventures, and then in the interview, Lucas says he started the feature-length version of his short THX 1138:4EB in the wake of the freedom created by the success of Easy Rider, but by the time he finished, the studio wanted something closer to the commercial fare of Airport and Love Story.

The program includes snippets from 6.18.67, a behind-the-scenes short doc that Lucas shot while on location for McKenna's Gold in 1967, and Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, as retitled by USC at the time. Despite Lucas' repeated assertions that he wants to make personal films -- something that his old running buddy Francis Ford Coppola is finally doing -- it seems that he will always be thought of as "a toymaker who makes films." And here he is, in a rare glimpse at the early years of his career.

After the jump: Watch the video!



George Lucas: Maker of Films (1971) from Michael Heilemann on Vimeo.