George Walton Lucas, Jr. (born May 14, 1944) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter famous for his epic Star Wars saga and the Indiana Jones trilogy.
Lucas was born in Modesto, California, where his father, George Walton Lucas, Sr., ran a stationery store. Lucas attended Downey High School and was interested in racecar driving; he dreamed of becoming a professional racecar driver. However, a terrible automobile accident abruptly ended that dream, changing his views on life. During the 1960s, Lucas studied cinema in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television, one of the earliest universities to have a school devoted to film studies. There he made a number of short films, including an early version of THX1138, later to become his first full-length feature film.
After graduating, he co-founded the studio American Zoetrope with Francis Ford Coppola, hoping to create a liberating environment for filmmakers to direct outside the perceived oppressive control of the Hollywood studio system . American Zoetrope never really succeeded, but from the financial success of his films American Graffiti (1974) and Star Wars (1977), Lucas was able to set up his own studio, Lucasfilm, in Marin County in his native northern California. Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light and Magic, the sound and visual effects subdivisions of Lucasfilm, respectively, have become among the most respected firms in their fields. Lucasfilm Games, later renamed to LucasArts, is highly regarded in the computer games industry.
Star Wars is considered by some to be the first "high concept" film, although others feel the first was Steven Spielberg's Jaws, released two years prior. In fact, Lucas and Speilberg had been acquaintances for some time and eventually worked together on several films, notably the first Indiana Jones vehicle, Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981. Along with Speilberg, Lucas is credited with establishing the blockbuster approach to filmmaking.
Lucas was fined by the Directors Guild of America for refusing to have a standard title sequence in his Star Wars films. After paying the fine, he quit the guild.
On October 3, 1994, Lucas started to write the three Star Wars prequels, and on November 1 that year, he left the day-to-day operations of his filmmaking business and started a sabbatical to finish the prequels.
Besides his directorial and production work on movies, Lucas is the most significant contemporary contributor to modern movie technology. In 1975 Lucas established Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) in Van Nuys, CA, which was responsible for the invention of the special computer assisted camera crane "Dykstraflex " that was used for most of the space fight sequences used in the Star Wars movies (technology which was later adopted by most other visual effects production units, such as those responsible for "Battlestar Galactica" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation"). Through ILM, Lucas spurred the further development of computer graphics, film laser scanners and the earliest use of 3D computer character animation in a film, Young Sherlock Holmes. Lucas sold his early computer development unit to Steve Jobs in 1988, which was renamed Pixar.
Lucas is also responsible for the modern sound systems found in many movie theaters. Though Lucas didn't invent THX, he is responsible for its development.
Now Lucas is spearheading digital photography for movies. Though personal digital photography is now mainstream, most movie studios still use traditional cameras and film for movie production. Lucas departed from this model by filming Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones almost completely digitally. He showed the result to a select audience of the Hollywood elite, before the movie's general release. For the presentation, Lucas used a special digital projection system. The attendees said the movie had the clearest and sharpest presentation they had ever seen.
Despite the successful demonstration of the technology, movie studios are slow to move to this new model, in part because of the high price of the digital equipment. But digital movie photography has several advantages:
- Digital editing is much easier and less expensive since the movie is already in digital form.
- Delivery of movies to cinemas is much cheaper since the digital media is much smaller than traditional reels which can weigh hundreds of pounds.
- Movies stored digitally are less susceptible to decay and degradation in quality.
- Transferring digital movies to DVD is much cheaper since both forms are digital.
As time goes on, Lucas is expected to make more contributions to modern moviemaking technology.
"A movie is never finished, only abandoned."
"I regret not the things I have done, only those I have yet to do."
"Sound is 50 percent of the moviegoing experience."
“It’s not like the old ‘Star Wars,‘ This one’s a little bit more emotional. We like to describe it [Episode III] as ‘Titanic’ in space. It’s a tearjerker.”
Most notable movies
- THX1138 (1970) (director, writer)
- American Graffiti (1973) (director, writer)
- Star Wars (1977) (director, writer)
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) (executive producer, co-writer)
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) (co-writer, executive producer)
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) (executive producer, co-writer)
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) (co-writer, executive producer)
- Howard the Duck (1986) (executive producer)
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) (co-writer, executive producer)
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) (director, writer, executive producer)
- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) (director, co-writer, executive producer)