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Lucas's writing contributions to Indy films

Discussion in 'Lucasfilm Ltd. In-Depth Discussion' started by DartJackson, Sep 18, 2020.

  1. DartJackson

    DartJackson Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Aug 26, 2020
    Lucas has credit "Story by" on each of the four Indy films. But how close are his early drafts / treatments to the all final films? Information about this on the Internet is not as detailed as the history of the development / writing of OT.

    Lucas wrote early script The Adventures of Indiana Smith in 1973-74. But why did he write the ROTLA treatment in January 1978 from scratch instead of using this script? How close was this treatment to the movie we know?

    It is known for The Last Crusade that Lucas wrote a treatment, which was essentially a different film, and he gave it to Columbus. Then he wrote another one treatment for Jeffrey Bohm. How close was it to the end result?

    Kingdom of the Crystal Skull also has a rather complicated history of writing and changing many writers, among which the contribution of Lucas is somewhat lost.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
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  2. christophero30

    christophero30 Chosen One star 8

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    May 18, 2017
    I think Lucas wrote general stories and then had the screenwriters flesh it out. Some of the stuff in TOD was left out of Raiders, like the plane escape and the mine car chase. Sometimes he will reject a screenplay but keep certain ideas, as they have the rights to them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
  3. DartJackson

    DartJackson Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Aug 26, 2020
    This is clear. But after all, for each of these films, several drafts were written, when new characters were created that were not in Lucas's drafts. And I'm interested in the descriptions of those drafts of Lucas, how these stories converge with the final versions. Unfortunately, the interpretation of treatment is very scarce on the Internet.
     
  4. oierem

    oierem Jedi Master star 4

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    Mar 18, 2009
    I assume you've read the Making of Indiana Jones book by J. Rinzler, which is the best source we have.
    Unfortunately, it doesn't go into details about the content of the story treatments.

    From what I know/assume:
    -There is no "The Adventures of Indiana Smith" script. Lucas concieved the idea in 1974 and worked with Philip Kauffman, but I don't think they did more than write a very rough story treatment. Definitely not a full script.

    -By the time Lucas reunited with Kasdan and Spielberg in January 1978, the story of Raiders was pretty much developed in his mind, as he basically laid down the whole story to the other two... then they spent days changing stuff around. The treatment, by Lucas, is the result of those story conferences, and the first draft by Kasdan is basically an expansion of that treatment (the draft is described in detail in the book).

    -As a general rule, with each Indy film, Lucas developed ideas for the story in private, discussed them with Spielberg, had story conferences with the screenwriters and THEN he would write the story treatment. Therefore, the treatment is the result of all the collaboration between Lucas, Spielberg and the writers, and is used as a basis for the first draft. That's what happened with Temple of Doom.

    -Last Crusade had two different story treatments by Lucas. The first was the rejected story, developed by Columbus. Then, it seems, he worked with Menno Meyjes on the new story, and only AFTER did Lucas write the story treatment, using elements of Meyjes' draft, to give it to Jeffrey Boam.

    -For Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it isn't known if Lucas wrote any story treatment, or just collaborated with all the different writers that worked on the project.
     
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  5. DartJackson

    DartJackson Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Aug 26, 2020
    Of course, I did not mean a complete script with dialogues, but a rough draft that roughly shows the course of events. Nevertheless, Kaufman received story credit hence some of his written materials were used.
    Most likely he wrote a treatment, but it is not known how much. Since early drafts are described a little like the final film. As far as I know, he had one personal draft after Darabont. But it was rather a "transitional" edited to the next writer. Nevertheless, George received credit.
     
  6. DartJackson

    DartJackson Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Aug 26, 2020
    I understand what you are talking about. But my investigation is about figuring out how much this affects the final film. Of course, the first draft is usually an extended version of the treatment. But then when writing the next drafts, something is cut out, something is changed in places.
     
  7. oierem

    oierem Jedi Master star 4

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    Mar 18, 2009
    I wouldn't assume that being credited means he wrote anything. For example, I doubt Kaufman actually wrote anything at all. He came up with the idea for the Lost Ark, and was meant to direct the movie, so he had discussions about it with Lucas, as they both developed a story. But there is no evidence of any written draft/treatment/whatever.
    Kaufman received story credit because his original contributions, but not necessarily because he actually wrote anything.

    Similarly, Lucas would receive a "story by" credit in any Indy film regardless of whether he actually wrote a treatment or not. Just because he is the one who develops the story and because it's a tradition.
     
  8. DartJackson

    DartJackson Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Aug 26, 2020
    "Story by" always means a written contribution to a film. For an oral idea "Story by" is never given, you need a written confirmation (treatment or first draft, which has been heavily modified by the next writers). If Lucas hadn't written he would have had "Characters created by" credit, not "Story by". But he has it in all films. Hence he had a written contribution in all four films. These are the WGA rules. Since Kaufman got credit, he had the necessary proof in the form of written work on the Raiders.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
  9. oierem

    oierem Jedi Master star 4

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    Mar 18, 2009
    I don't believe Lucas needs to follow the WGA rules. Least of all when crediting himself. But maybe I am wrong.
     
  10. DartJackson

    DartJackson Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Aug 26, 2020
    I searched the net and seems to have found the reason that Kaufman got the credit. Early in the writing of Raiders, Kasdan corresponded with Kaufman about the plot. Probably these notes were enough for Kaufman's credit in the credits. Probably these notes were enough for Kaufman's credit in the credits. And there were probably some early sketches from 1974.
     
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  11. DartJackson

    DartJackson Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Aug 26, 2020
    Not true. But the film was directed by Guild member Steven Spielberg and produced by Hollywood producers. Lucas failed to make Indy films independent. The WGA was still in charge of screen credits. So "Story by" really means written contribution. Kingdom went through WGA arbitration like all other films. Darabont was still upset that his name was not included in the credits.

    In addition, Lucas distributed his films through Hollywood companies, rather than creating his own (Lucasfilm was a production company, but not a distribution company). Hence the credits were regulated by the WGA.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
  12. Oissan

    Oissan Force Ghost star 7

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    Mar 9, 2001
    The reason Kaufman got a credit was already mentioned above. Lucas and him worked on the story early on, then they stopped doing so, because Kaufman was signed on to work on a movie (and he needed the money from that at that point), so all the work that had been done got shelved for the time being. Then things picked up again with Lucas, Spielberg and Kasdan. The basis for all that was the story that Lucas and Kaufman had developed, hence both got a 'story by' credit.

    There is no possible way to judge how close anything Lucas came up with was to the final movie. This isn't some black & white work where person A does work X, and then person B goes on to alter it further. Instead there was an early outline, which got changed by Lucas himself, then they came together for further development. Depending on the movie you had various steps in between. Lucas, Spielberg and Ford all needed to agree on a script on the later movies, and the different writers obviously all had their input as well. It never went from Lucas to writer to accepted / enhanced / nixed, therefore it isn't really possible to say how the stories Lucas came up with compare to the final movie. Stories evolve over time as well, which includes changes being made by Lucas later on.

    Rinzler's book has some information about changes between the various drafts, but even that won't tell you much, because there aren't any comparisons to the treatments. Treatments are more a rough guideline for future development anyway, not something you could judge Lucas' contributions with.
     
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  13. DartJackson

    DartJackson Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Aug 26, 2020
    I will repeat myself. For Kaufman to receive credit, he must have a direct written work in the form of at least a vague outline / structire / treatment, but at the same time that it was not very far from the final film (otherwise he would have no credit). For oral ideas "Story by" is not given. The maximum he would count on in this case is just "Special thanks" or something like that. The script for the film went through arbitration.

    Kasdan had story meetings with Kaufman after story meetings with Lucas and Spielberg. Well, maybe some sketches co-written with Kaufman from 1974 were provided. And so Kaufman received credit "Story by".
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
  14. christophero30

    christophero30 Chosen One star 8

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    May 18, 2017
    You go out of your way to state you know more about it than us so not sure why you bothered asking.
     
  15. DartJackson

    DartJackson Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Aug 26, 2020
    Where did I state this? I'm just explaining the rules of the screen credits, which are in the public domain in Internet. But the very process of writing films still hides many secrets. Unlike the much more famous story of each of the OT.

    GL credited in Kingdom as "Story by", hence he had a letter, although it is known very little about it. The same applies to Kaufman in Raiders. There was a letter that was heeded (so he gets screen credit), not just oral ideas. I just pointed out the misconceptions associated with written credits.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
  16. christophero30

    christophero30 Chosen One star 8

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    May 18, 2017
    ok lol. There is just not much info on this.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
  17. antitoxicgamer

    antitoxicgamer Jedi Padawan star 2

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    Sep 9, 2020
    Was GL also involved in writing of Young Indiana Jones chronicles TV Series ?
     
  18. DartJackson

    DartJackson Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Aug 26, 2020
    He has "Story by" credit on a variety of episodes (but not all). He also wrote a general timeline of events and historical figures that Indy should meet.
    GL held story conferences with writers where he shared his concepts. Some episodes had more or less elaborate rough drafts written by GL (due to which GL got "Story by" credit in final episodes), others not.

    It's easier on TV than on the big screen. In the sense teleplays have the property of not being as rewritten as screenplays for big movie. But again, the details of the writing are unknown.
     
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