Review: Howard Kazanjian – A Producer’s Life

Howard Kazanjian – A Producer’s Life

Author: J.W. Rinzler

Publisher: Abrams Books

Pages: 408

Release: September 14, 2021

Of the 200+ interviews I have done with Star Wars cast and crew the one with Howard Kazanjian from january 2010 is in my personal Top 5. In that interview he mentioned he was writing a book about his career in which he would reveal several things about the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. Needless to say, this intrigued me and in the years that followed I often checked if the book was released. Over a decade later, it is finally here.

The big question: was it worth the wait? As said, the book covers Kazanjian’s career in movies, starting at the very beginning. The first couple of chapters are about his early work and working with legends like Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch) and Sir Alfred Hitchcock (Family Plot). If you’re only interested in the Lucasfilm stuff the fun begins right after that and most part of the book covers his spell at Lucasfilm, working on More American Graffiti and after that Raiders and Jedi.

There have been several Star Wars Behind the Scenes books over the years and although they were good they were sometimes ‘dry reads’. This book is hard to put down and a really good read thanks to the anecdotes, the wonderful things he experiences working with some of the greatest directors in the history of cinema (besides Hitchcock and Sam Peckinpah I’m talking about George Lucas and Steven Spielberg of course) and some gossipy tidbits (which I’m not gonna spoil it here). Even aspiring producers/filmmakers will find some valuable lessons within the 400 pages! Several of these pages feature rare, never before seen behind the scenes color photos from Kazanjian’s private collection, which is an absolute treat!

As a bonus there are the (now famous and widely discussed) quotes from Marcia Lucas (George Lucas’ ex-wife) criticizing the Disney trilogy, something Mr. Kazanjian does as well. Many fans will surely experience some kind of “vindication”, with two key players from the Original Saga openly talking about it.

Unlike many other releases A Producer’s Life is definitely no filler. As said, I bet OG fans will appreciate the information and stories. Star Wars needs more works like these where the cast and crew can share their experiences without a company looking over their shoulder.

Special thanks to Abrams Books for providing a review copy!