Alderaan Interview with Craig Miller
|Interviews by Fans|
|Title:||Alderaan Interview with Craig Miller|
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The interview was conducted by Allyson, co-editor of Alderaan. Some of the topics: Miller's activities as a fan, Lucasfilm's attitudes about the importance of fans, TPTB's realization about the importance of fan support and its effect on tickets sales and merchandising, about what TPTB was doing about unauthorized creation of Star Wars merchandise including fanzines, about the increasing acceptance of science fiction in society, why there haven't been any "Star Wars only" conventions, about the tensions between Star Trek and Star Wars, and a number of other topics.
Also see Open Letter to Star Wars Zine Publishers by Maureen Garrett for more on the conflict between fans and TPTB.
A = Allyson Dwyer, M = Craig Miller
- A.: Let me ask you, why did you think that was necessary? To have a [fan] liaison? I'm asking this because Paramount never did. With all the Star Trek fandom, Paramount never saw fit to really get out there and say, 'yes, we recognize there are fans.' Yet, Star Mars has a completely different attitude
- H. : Well, Star Wars started out taking the attitude that fans were important to the movie. That's why a year before the movie came out Charlie Lipplncott was going to science fiction comic book and Star Trek conventions, doing these presentations to let people know about the film. So, there was a whole different attitude. Since Star Wars became as successful as it did, just about every major SF film (and fantasy and horror films) have a representative of one sort or another going to conventions doing presentations. Disney with "Black Hole," "Star Trek," has done some slide shows, "Lord of the Rings," did. .."Invasion of the Body Snatchers"... They're all doing it because of thi success of Star Wars, and felt that maybe it did contribute to the success. Or at least, if not to the success directly, [then] the initial popularity of the film. The film had an audience ready for it when it came out. And people seeing the number of people going to it at first saw: 'Here's a lot of people going to see this movie. Maybe it's good. Maybe I should go see it." It's a way of building word of mouth.
- A.: Was Star Wars the first one to really start doing this?
- H.: Yeah;
- A.: Why did they feel.. .how did they...
- H.: I thought I just said that.
- A.: No, no. I mean why did they initially feel [that]. They could have sat there and ignored the audience because it's so small.
- M.: No, because they felt it was an important part of the audience. That fans were interested in this film. That they would be a market to begin with, and to expand on. That fans are not merely people who sit at home and read, but talk to people, have jobs — Y'know, a lot of them are teachers, computer programmers, librarians, there's some doctors and lawyers.. .all different kinds of jobs. Fans tend to be talkative. They tend to tell people about movies they've seen. It's a way of spreading word of mouth. And also it was known — this is supposition at this point because I was not hired until after the film came out—but that Star Wars needed an audience to begin with. It would not have time to build an audience. It either had to have an audience when it opened or it was doomed to failure. If it had to wait six weeks for word of mouth to spread, it wouldn' t have made it.
- A.: What about fan-related material? Fanzines?
- M.: Technically fanzines are in violation of copyright.
- A.: What about when you file for copyright [when you can cite] previous works. I understand you can do that.
- M.: You can cite previous works and say, for example, if you have a fanzine that has one story that involves Han Solo and Chewbacca, and none of the other characters. You could file a copyright citing that "Han Solo and Chewbacca are copyrighted. Twentieth Century Fox," however you're supposed to give "received permission" before doing that sort of thing. And it's a very, very complicated situation. Right now we are unofficially "looking the other way."
- A.: Oh, okay, if that's your official line, you're "looking the other way."
- M.: Officially, we don't notice them.
- A.: You don't notice them, but you get them through the office.
- M.: Yeah, we see fanzines, but we're trying to come up with something that our lawyers can agree with that won't involve making people not publish fanzines.
- A.: That's good.
- A.: Okay, final question: what do you see as the future for Star Wars, and Star Wars fandom?
- M.: The future of Star Wars fandom? I think it'll continue as long as there are movies and people are interested. I suspect an awful lot of the people will eventually move into— en masse—either media fandom or combining Star Trek, (and Logan's Run and Black Hole and whatever) and perhaps a lot of people will move into mainstream science fiction fandom. I know a lot of people in science fiction fandom who started out Involved in either comics or Star Trek to the exclusion of everything else...and [jokingly] eventually wised up. I think It'll continue as long as there's something for them to be interested in.
- A.: So you see fandom as a very positive force?
- M.: Oh, I do, very much
- A.: Do you see fandom as being as exclusive as it is? Do you see more mundanes trying to get in? The science fiction fans sorta saw that happening with the Star Trek fans, who kinda rushed in, in great numbers.
- M.: Fandom is getting larger, because science fiction is becoming more acceptable and it's appearing in more media.
- A.: Do you think that's to the detriment though?
- M.: In some ways. You don't have the weeding out factor we used to. It used to be that if someone was "Not Our Kind Of People"—which has nothing to do with age, or race, or sex or anything else, but strictly a fannish persona—they would be left out of a lot of things, and would eventually go away. It wouldn't be a conscious "get the heck out of here!" but people wouldn't go out of their way to associate with them... But, with such a tremendous influx, all at the same time, there isn't that weeding out process because all those no-goods have each other to associate with
- A.: On that note I'll let you go.