I often say that “Star Wars” is about as close as I get to religion. I don’t have memories that go back further than “Star Wars.” I have a fascination as anyone does with the Holiday Special, but for you guys specifically, what was your relationship to “Star Wars” in general before taking this on?
Coon: I was born in ’79, so I missed the initial boat. But I mean, the first movie I remember seeing in theaters was “Return of the Jedi” when I was four. I’ve been a big “Star Wars” fan since then. I’m not as fanatical some people, but I definitely love the movies, and the culture, and everything about it. I’ve always been a big fan.
Kozak: It’s interesting. I don’t think we ever discussed that. I think what probably helped with this project is that Jeremy and I love “Star Wars,” but we’re not obsessive people. You would think we would be, but we just brought obsessive people into the project with us to help us out. I’m 60, so I saw it when I was about 13 or whatever. Big studio in Westwood, California. Completely blew my mind. I remember some friends dragged me to it and I insisted that I hated science fiction, but, of course, it was something completely different. It was a completely different brand.
As it relates to the doc, how did you guys come to be aware of the Holiday Special? Because as you go over in the movie, the thing only aired once and it was before VHS and it was before the internet. Some people didn’t find out about this until years later. Some people didn’t know it existed. What was your first encounter with it?
Coon: I just know everyone has a different entry point, like you said. Mine was 2002. I saw bootlegged VHS. I mean, I think Steve actually saw it, didn’t you?
Kozak: I did. I’m ashamed that I was that old to have seen it when it came out. One of the things we discuss in the documentary is this kind of low bar that there is for a variety television. They’d bring in this person for the kids, and this person for the adults. There was a little bit for everyone, so that’s what the Holiday Special was to me when I was a kid. I knew that I wasn’t going to get more than 10 minutes of Han Solo, but it was enough. We had very low expectations. The media is just so different now. It gives you exactly what you want. “You want Han Solo? I’m going to give you a whole movie of it.”
The biggest thing that stood out to me is you guys have quite a bit of footage from the actual special in the doc. George Lucas famously tried to bury this thing for years and there’s no official release of it. Did you get permission to put the footage in the documentary, or how did you guys get around that sticky part of it?
Kozak: As you know, there are a lot of films that evaluate, comment on, critique arts and media, certain media. I don’t know why there hadn’t been a documentary, or even very little reported about the special, but I come from licensing, fair use, and I know that if you’re conservative enough, which we very much were, you can use a decent amount of unlicensed footage to make your point. I think, to our credit and Jeremy’s credit, we were very conservative. There’s not a ton of footage of the special in the doc.
That’s actually both for legal reasons, respect reasons of the ownership of it, for Lucas’s perspective, and also for the fact that it’s just hard to watch. I don’t know if we had permission to use a ton of footage if we’d actually have used that much footage. You know what I mean?