I’m 5 episodes into the new Industrial Light & Magic Documentary on Disney plus and it’s already started to bum me out. The series has most decidedly taken a turn for the worse. Not to say it’s a bad documentary. Far from it. The whole show is a fascinating look at how ILM changed movies forever! No, the problem for me is watching the ‘magic’ get sucked out and replaced with corporate overlords who did and said whatever they had to, to get a seat at the ILM table. I think it was episode 4 when Kathy Kennedy shows up. They should have played the Darth Vadar theme. That would have been fitting. How did she work with George Lucas for all those years and still be so clueless as to what makes Star Wars work? I know how. She was lying. She was lying the whole time. ILM is a great gig and she didn’t want to lose it. She made a very calculated decision (as did many others) to treat ILM like any other corporate ladder. So many people are coming on board around episode 4 and 5 that just don’t get the ‘magic’ part of ILM and it’s bringing me down.
The first few episodes are so incredibly strong. A ragtag group of dreamers sets out to do the impossible by making a special effects heavy movie called Star Wars. They build an effects studio from scratch and turn Hollywood upside down with their success. The behind-the-scenes stuff in the doc is just incredible. Building new tech. Building cameras and Models. Solving unsolvable problems. And having the time of their lives while they did it. The happiness and sense of comraderie practically jump off the screen. It’s amazing. It’s magic. The success of their hard work is gigantic. That’s when things start to go unavoidably south. I don’t know what George Lucas could have done differently with his fast-growing new company. I just know watching something special and magical get taken over by corporate suits really bums me out.