The tale of the futuristic film

There was once a filmmaker who was obsessed with the poor-quality Flash Gordon movies, and wondered what it would be like to film one properly. But after being unable to secure the rights, he decided to create his own version of the futuristic action-adventure movie.

He wrote for eight hours a day, five days a week for a year, coming up with odd-sounding names and places to set his adventure.

His finished treatment was soundly rejected by every movie studio--because in the 1970's, Hollywood didn't see any earning potential in futuristic films.

After spending months reworking his idea to accommodate a more meager budget, only one studio offered him a deal. And over the next two years, he wrote four more drafts, choosing components from each one for the final script.

Shooting was so hectic that he suffered from depression and became hypertensive. He ended post-production deeply discouraged--especially after a disastrous early screening for his close industry friends resulted in an impromptu intervention where they urged him not to release the movie.

Weeks later, he purposefully missed his own premiere for fear of embarrassment, and on opening day he skipped town to shield himself from the industry backlash.

To everyone's surprise, his obscure, futuristic, Flash-Gordon-knock-off film ended up becoming the highest grossing movie of all time, dethroning the previous top-grossing movie about a deranged shark.

Wondering who it could be? Here's a clue: the main character's first name combined with his last initial equals the last name of the film's now-famous director. Try to guess the name without Googling it.

light@lightwatkins.com