Great weekend read: Michael Heilemann explores how George Lucas created Chewbacca, or rather how he…um…borrowed…it from somebody else. The piece’s valuable insights into the creative process apply to all the arts, though they are particularly applicable to filmmaking, in which the final product is formed by the hands of many, influences come from all over, and authorship is often opaque:
Chewbacca didn’t spring to life out of nowhere, fully formed when Lucas saw his dog in the passenger seat of his car. That’s the soundbite. A single step. The reality is complex and human. From vague names floating around, the kernel of an idea, changing purposes and roles of characters, major restructuring, the design hopping from person to person, scrapping the existing concept and going down a different path, seeing existing things in a different light and having to conform a range of ideas to complement and enrich one another.