I recently watched The Long Goodbye, a wonderful film. After watching any movie, I like to read about its development history and the people involved. During this, I learned The Long Goodbye’s screenwriter, Leigh Brackett, wrote the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back.
What! I definitely wanted to learn more about that.
The draft is a great read. All of Empire’s story beats are there, and it’s fascinating to see what things were changed and what was kept unchanged.
It can be downloaded/read here.
This dialogue bit from Han is great.
A bunch of Wampa creatures invade the rebel base on Hoth! I believe a remnant of this can be found in one of Empire’s deleted scenes.
I liked this moment where Luke senses the Empire/Darth Vader approaching the planet Hoth. The concept of people sensing one another across vast swathes of outer space is so compelling.
Extremely into the idea of rebel operatives wearing explosive necklaces that hold secret information.
Can very much see what Yoda (Minch) dialogue this ended up becoming.
Fun to see Darth Vader’s castle revisited in Rogue One, and the Emperor’s cloth-of-gold robes repurposed for Snoke.
Lando is, was, and will always be, the most dapper guy in the galaxy.
Luke meets his ghost dad!
This very much feels like a normal part of the creative process. Stories are hard to crack – every project starts somewhere, and this is where this one started.
Yoda (Minch) has one last lesson for Luke, in this predecessor to the Dagobah spooky-tree sequence:
The imagery of Darth Vader running his fingers through a starfield is incredible.
Luke is absolutely shattered by his experience. It’s so grim, and turns the dark side into this devastating cosmic horror. I love it.
Leia and Han talking about Lando:
When I was a kid growing up, any mention of the Clone Wars turned me into an animal. The Clone Wars was rarely mentioned, and when it was mentioned it was always in an off-handed manner. Details about it were always maddeningly vague.
And I guess a combination of all that made me ravenous. There was something magical about it!
I’ve always been morbidly curious about How My Dinner with Darth Vader in Cloud City Went, so it was fun to read this version of it.
There’s a concept called analysis paralysis. One version of analysis paralysis is when you have to decide amongst an overwhelming/unrealistic amount of choices and are therefore paralyzed by indecision.
Creative work is very ripe for analysis paralysis. There’s literally a universe of possibilities – how do you ensure you choose the right things?
For me, the short answer is: you don’t. you can’t. (or at least I can’t.)
What you can do is: trust the process. Put stuff in, see how it feels, and course-correct accordingly.
Is there a singular, pristine, perfect solution floating in the ether somewhere, waiting to be plucked by you? Yes, I’m sure there is. I’m also sure that seeking this silver bullet is absolutely a trap that will doom you.
Trust the process, trust in continual improvement.
And somehow, just like Leigh Brackett’s The Empire Strikes Back screenplay, the draft oftentimes works very well and has a magic about it. Committing things to page/pixels/code/whatever can be daunting, and it helps when I remind myself that it’s just one step in the process.