March 11, 1999

A Lawrence native is a key technical player for "Episode I: The Phantom Menace," the upcoming "Star Wars" prequel.

The Force is definitely with Bruce Lacey's Hollywood career.

The Lawrence native is hard at work on the hotly anticipated "Episode I: The Phantom Menace," the newest "Star Wars" installment from director George Lucas and his Lucasfilm production company.

"This is a fun project to work on," Lacey said during a phone interview from his San Francisco home. "They have been generous with the amount of time they have given us so we can do a bang-up job, and I get to work under Ben Burtt, who is a four-time Academy Award winner."

The film is set to open May 21.

Lacey stays busy as an independent writer, director and sound editor in Hollywood. "Phantom" is only the latest in a series of big-time films Lacey has worked on since beginning his career in sound effects more than 20 years ago.

His resume is filled with a "who's who" of major films and studios.

During his technical career, Lacey has worked on such films as "Lethal Weapon," "Fatal Attraction," "Good Morning, Vietnam," "Mississippi Burning" and "Rain Man."

His most recent projects include "The Lost World," "Contact," "Saving Private Ryan," "There's Something About Mary" and "The Faculty."

Lacey has worked at every major studio and production company, including Lucasfilm, Miramax, Fox, Amblin Entertainment, MGM, Paramount, Columbia, Warner Brothers and Universal.

Not bad for a guy who originally did not want anything to do with making movies.

"I never really considered it early on," Lacey said. "Back in the late '60s I thought it was trite and stupid to go into the same business as your dad."

Lacey's father, Charles, was one of the key figures in Lawrence-based Centron Films.

"I started out at Centron part-time," Lacey recalled. "I got to know some of the younger guys and went out with them on some shoots, and then I discovered it was fun, interesting and challenging."

On his father's advice, Bruce Lacey left Lawrence for Los Angeles. He earned a bachelor's degree in television and film production and screenwriting from Loyola Marymount University and a master's degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California.

During this time Lacey also worked as a Foley sound man. He was an apprentice under Wayne Allwine, who learned his craft from the legendary Jimmy McDonald, a sound effects wizard for Walt Disney Studio and the original voice of Mickey Mouse.

Lacey soon learned that Foley technicians create customized sound for scenes. Film microphones are designed to pick up only the actor's voice, so any other necessary sound -- from feet walking in crunchy snow to airplanes flying overhead -- must be added in postproduction.

Lacey also works in Automated Dialogue Replacement, which involves working with actors and directors in re-recording scenes to ensure the words are clear and in sync.

Contrary to popular belief, technicians do not become blase as to what they see, Lacey said.

While working on "Saving Private Ryan," Lacey said that the opening horrific battle scenes often left him depressed.

"It was kind of like working with a black cloud over your head," Lacey said. "But Steven (Spielberg) wanted to create a sense of confusion so he punched it up a bit by using a multitude of sound effects."

Working in a small community of technicians means Lacey is well-known in the industry. This recognition has led to such honors as his being sponsored into membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in 1991.

As a free-lancer, Lacey has gaps in his schedule, which leave time for his writing. He currently has an agent shopping around five scripts. His latest teleplay, "The Other Side," played last month on the Showtime series "The Outer Limits."

Lacey would like to share more about his work at the Lucas ranch, but security for the "Star Wars" prequel is tight, he said.

"Everything is under a shroud of secrecy out here," Lacey said. "But that just means they are eager to protect their product and build excitement for it."

-- The Mag's phone message number is 832-7146. Send e-mail to jbiles@ljworld.com.

Originally published at: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/1999/mar/11/lacey_makes_big_noise/