Crew Profiles: George Lucas..
The first time I met George Lucas I couldn't help thinking..... is this really the Director? I guess I was looking for someone with a commanding presence like Alfred Hitchcock or John Huston..... that certainly didn't describe the man that was heading the moderately budgeted ($11m) project on which I found myself. George was really rather quiet and unassuming. He looked like a recent post graduate, was rather introverted, more the personality of an Editor than a Director. I remember him sporting a baseball cap.... which were not that common in Britain in those days. It looked rather odd in an indoor studio set.
I hadn't seen AMERICAN GRAFFITI, I don't think many of us had, but the word on the set was that this guy George Lucas, that we had never heard of, was really "up and coming". To be honest we had heard that about a lot of other people who had long since disappeared and I think most of us were much more impressed to be working with Alec Guiness who had been a legendary star for decades.
George was affectionately referred to as "the guv'ner" a term often used by British movie crews to refer to the Director but he handled himself in so gentile a fashion that it was hard to imagine him as the driving force behind anything. I don't want to suggest he was indecisive... he seemed to know what he wanted.... he was just very quiet about asking for it.
To put everything in context you have to remember that the huge explosion of cheap Science fiction films of the 50's seemed to have pretty well exhausted the subject and was followed by comparatively few in the 60's. As we prepared for George Lucas's third feature we were less than a decade after movies like "Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster" (1971) and "They Came From Beyond Space" (1967). We were all a little insecure about finding ourselves making another Sci-Fi flick, though we were happy just to be working. As preproduction progressed we had little indication that the movie we were making, which used weird terms like "parsecs" and "hyper drive" and seemed rather inanely titled STAR WARS, was literally about to jump into movie hyper space. The first signs of the project's scale and originality were as the sets approached completion. Quite suddenly a unique vision emerged.
At the end of the movie several technicians, including myself, were presented with a book of stills from the movie... an unpresidented gift from Lucasfilm. It demonstrated George's concern and appreciation for his crew (which is far from common in this cut-throat industry. I was deeply touched by the inscription in the back which reads "Nick Maley - Thank you for your contribution to Star Wars" and is signed "George Lucas" and "Gary Kurtz".
By the time we got to THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, (3 years later) the unassuming genius that lead us was transformed into a legend but it seemed as if it weighed heavily upon him. He now seemed not so much quiet as pensive.....was much more serious than before... like ten years older, and far more forceful.
One of the biggest surprises for me was when he was reported to have said that the best thing about STAR WARS was that he would never have to direct a movie again! Well 22 years later he appears to have reconsidered because STAR WARS Episode 1 will soon become his fourth film as Director.
Writer, Director and Executive Producer
THE OFFICIAL LUCASFILM BIO
George Lucas is the creator of the phenomenally successful STAR WARS saga and the Indiana Jones series, and is Chairman of the Board of Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts Entertainment Company, and Lucas Digital Ltd.
Lucas directed his first feature film, THX 1138, in 1970. The film was produced by American Zoetrope and executive-produced by Francis Coppola. In 1971, Lucas formed his own film company,Lucasfilm Ltd., in San Rafael, California.
In 1973, Lucas co-wrote and directed AMERICAN GRAFFITI. The film won the Golden Globe, the New York Film Critics' and National Society of Film Critics' awards, and garnered five Academy Award nominations.
Four years later, Lucas wrote and directed STAR WARS (actually that's when it was released) -- a film which broke all box office records and earned seven Academy Awards. Lucas went on to write the stories for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI, which he also executive-produced. In 1980, he was executive producer of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, directed by Steven Spielberg, which won five Academy Awards. He was also the co-executive producer and creator of the story for INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM. The film, released in 1984, earned two Acadmey Award nominations and won an Oscar for its visual effects.
In 1986, Lucas served as executive producer for Disneyland's 3D musical space adventure Captain EO, which was directed by Francis Coppola and starred Michael Jackson. Lucas was also involved in the creation of Star Tours, the most popular attraction at Disneyland.
Lucas' next project was the adventure-fantasy film WILLOW. Based on an original story by Lucas, the film was directed by Ron Howard and executive-produced by Lucas. Willow was released in 1988 and received three Academy Award nominations.
Also in 1988, Lucas executive-produced TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM. The film, directed by Francis Coppola, garnered three Academy Award nominations. In the following year, Lucas served as executive producer for INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUCADE. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, earned an Oscar for Best Sound Design, and became the number one worldwide box office hit for 1989.
Lucas served as story author and executive producer of the television series, THE YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES, which premiered in 1992. THE YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES won a Banff Award for Best Continuing Series, a Golden Globe nomination for best Dramatic Series, an Angel Award for Quality Programming, 11 Emmy Awards and 25 Emmy nominations.
In 1992, George Lucas was honored with the Irving G. Thalberg Award. The Award was given by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts of Sciences.
Lucas was the story author and executive producer of RADIOLAND MURDERS in 1994.
The company established by George Lucas in 1971 has today evolved into three Lucas companies. Lucas Digital Ltd. encompasses Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Skywalker Sound, the award-winning visual effects, television commercial production, and audi o post-production businesses. ILM has played a key role in 6 of the top 12 box office hits of all time, winning 14 Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and 12 Technical Achievement Awards. Skywalker Sound has been a pioneer in breakthrough picture and sound editing technologies and has been honored with 10 Academy Awards.
LucasArts Entertainment Company is a leading international developer and publisher of entertainment software. The company's games have won critical acclaim with more than 100 industry awards for excellence and consistently have been in top ten lists of best-selling software. The company's runaway CD-ROM hit Rebel Assault sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide.
Lucasfilm Ltd. includes all of Lucas' feature film and television production and the business activities of Licensing and the THX Group. The patented THX Sound System is currently installed in more than 1400 certified THX theatres worldwide. The THX division also provides presentation enhancement services for theatrical film releases through its Theatre Alignment Program, for laser disc releases through its THX Laser Disc Program, and for consumer equipment through its Home THX Program.
To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of STAR WARS in 1997, Lucas updated each film of the trilogy to bring it closer to his original vision. The STAR WARS Trilogy Special Edition was released theatrically worldwide with digitally remastered soundtracks, restored prints, enhanced visual effects, and newly added footage. Lucasfilm's next project is the Star Wars prequels. George Lucas has written and will direct and executive produce the first of the three STAR WARS prequels, which is set to go into production in 1997, and scheduled to be released in 1999.
George Lucas is the Chairman of the Board of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. He also has served on the boards of the National Geographic Society Education Foundation, the Artists Rights Foundation, the Joseph Campbell Foundation, and the Film Foundation. In addition, he is a member of the USC School of Cinema-Television Board of Councilors.
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