Disaster in Tunisia: George Lucas’s stormy start to Star Wars

It was supposed to be an easy start, but the elements set the crew back weeks, and sent George into a panic, as heard in BLOCKBUSTER.


The wind in Tunisia could kick sand into the air, so George Lucas sometimes wore goggles on set.

It was finally time to begin production on "The Star Wars." George Lucas had finished casting his boundary-pushing "Star Wars" film, and a crew of about 100 traveled to North Africa.


They'd scouted locations for Luke's home planet, and Tunisia offered the kind of deserts that would eventually give "Star Wars" its iconic setting. The weather, too, was supposed to be consistent and predictable: a huge plus for a production budgeted at $7M at that time.


But on the first day of filming, the crew struggled with delays. It was the robots at first, and then a huge storm that came out of nowhere, soaking the desert in a downpour that ruined shooting schedules and got trucks and equipment stuck in the mud for days.


The wind would complicate things by kicking up sand, and then, within a matter of hours, the searing heat would move in, exhausting the cast and crew.


George would only be able to shoot a fraction of the shots he'd planned to get in Tunisia. Already, his space adventure was starting to fall apart.


The moment can be heard in Episode III of the original series BLOCKBUSTER, available free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all other platforms.


George would be forced to move on, to London's Ellstree Studios, where the major set pieces were being built.


Eventually, 20th Century Fox would grant him a few thousand dollars for some reshoots in the California desert, which had a very different landscape.


It was Steven Spielberg who would reassure George of the potential of "Star Wars," after principal photography had ended.


The creative relationship and long-running friendship between Spielberg, Lucas and Williams is explored in detail in BLOCKBUSTER. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, as well as Spotify and all other podcast platforms.


BLOCKBUSTER has been painstakingly researched, compiled and referenced from thousands of sources, and details many of the events that led to the creation of JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, and STAR WARS — and the very idea of "the blockbuster" film.


It's a story too incredible not to be told, with the richest, most immersive sound design ever created.


Put on your headphones, close your eyes, and enjoy.


This is a sonic experience that invites you into the offices, film sets and homes of the most influential dreamers, rebels and world builders in Hollywood film history. You won't just be listening; you'll feel like you're there.

It's free to listen. But please consider a donation!


We've made the decision to release Blockbuster for free and without ads interrupting the story. But this production did take about $80,000 to produce from start to finish, so if you enjoy the experience, please consider giving $10, and you'll earn some cool bonus perks in the process!


You can subscribe now at Apple Podcasts for weekly episodes, as well as Spotify and all other podcast platforms.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@Blockbuster_Pod), and Instagram @BlockbusterPod, and the show's creator Matt Schrader on Twitter (@mattschrader).

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