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The Rain People


George Lucas beard bonding with Francis Ford Coppola
Walter Murch Film-maker
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George and I wound up being the finalists in a scholarship program to send a student from the film school after they graduated, to Warner Brothers for six months and they could hang out and just wander around the studio and absorb, do whatever seemed to interest them. And in the moments before we went in to have our final hearing, George and I made a kind of Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer pact which is, one of us is going to get this. Let's say if something good happens as a result of this, whoever gets it will turn around and help the other one. So okay. We shook on that and we went in and a day later, they announced that George won this award. So, fantastic, have a great time. And he wanted to go to Warner's to study animation.

He was very interested in animation and he arrived the day that the animation department at Warner Brothers shut down. So again, it was part of this thing that our camera instructor was warning us about which is that everything is going to stop. So this was not a very good sign but it turned out that there was one film, just one, shooting at Warner Brothers at the time. And so he wandered over to look at the film being shot and he had a beard and he noticed that the person who was ordering other people around also had a beard and so they had a brotherly beard bonding moment. George went over and introduced himself and that man turned out to be Francis Coppola, directing Finian's Rainbow and they hit it off because they're both very creative, talented people.

Born in 1943 in New York City, Murch graduated from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television. His career stretches back to 1969 and includes work on Apocalypse Now, The Godfather I, II, and III, American Graffiti, The Conversation, and The English Patient. He has been referred to as 'the most respected film editor and sound designer in modern cinema.' In a career that spans over 40 years, Murch is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Francis Ford Coppola, beginning in 1969 with The Rain People. After working with George Lucas on THX 1138 (1971), which he co-wrote, and American Graffiti (1973), Murch returned to Coppola in 1974 for The Conversation, resulting in his first Academy Award nomination. Murch's pioneering achievements were acknowledged by Coppola in his follow-up film, the 1979 Palme d'Or winner Apocalypse Now, for which Murch was granted, in what is seen as a film-history first, the screen credit 'Sound Designer.' Murch has been nominated for nine Academy Awards and has won three, for best sound on Apocalypse Now (for which he and his collaborators devised the now-standard 5.1 sound format), and achieving an unprecedented double when he won both Best Film Editing and Best Sound for his work on The English Patient. Murch’s contributions to film reconstruction include 2001's Apocalypse Now: Redux and the 1998 re-edit of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil. He is also the director and co-writer of Return to Oz (1985). In 1995, Murch published a book on film editing, In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing, in which he urges editors to prioritise emotion.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Warner Brothers, Finian's Rainbow, George Lucas, Francis Coppola

Duration: 2 minutes, 1 second

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 01 March 2017