ESQ: And you also did the first light saber, or “laser sword” as
it was called, right?
RC: Yes. The laser sword was one of the most challenging props to
find. Several attempts at mock-ups made by John Steers’ SFX
department had been rejected. I knew the laser sword or light
saber had the potential to become the symbol of Star Wars, like
Excalibur was to King Arthur, so it had to look the part. And the
Prop Master Frank Bruton, who had to get everything on trucks for
Tunisia for the start of filming, was hounding me, and nothing I
had found to adapt was feeling right. One day at the camera shop
we rented equipment from, I asked the owner if he had any spare
parts somewhere. And he pointed to some boxes buried deep under
the shelves and there in the box were several Graflex flashgun
handles. They were perfect, heavy, and had a red button for firing
the flash. I could not believe my luck. I used rubber T-strip as a
base, which I had also used for the Stormtroopers’ Stirling sub
machine guns, and I pulled out my superglue and stuck strips along
the base to form a handle grip. Then I had found some interesting
bubble strip from an old calculator LED strip and they fit
perfectly into the grip where the Graflex attached to the camera.
I placed some chrome tape over the Graflex name and voila.