George Lucas (b. 1944) was an executive producer for Jim Henson's Labyrinth.
He is perhaps best known for creating the Star Wars saga, which was filmed in the same studios as The Muppet Show. A few of the characters he created for Star Wars would appear as the guest stars of a fourth season episode of The Muppet Show.
Lucas was also the creator, writer and producer of the Indiana Jones film series.
|Star Wars work|
|Other work of note|
George Walton Lucas, Jr. (born May 14, 1944) is a four-time Academy Award-nominated American film and television writer, director, and producer. He is best known as creator of the epic Star Wars saga and the archaeologist-adventurer character Indiana Jones. From 1977 to 2005, he served as co-writer and executive producer of all six Star Wars films, as well as director for four of the films. He also appeared in a cameo role in the final film of the saga, Revenge of the Sith, as the Pantoran N. Papanoida. He is famous for his advances in special effects and filming techniques.
George Walton Lucas Jr. was born in Modesto, California to George Walton Lucas, Sr. (1913–1991) and Dorothy Ellinore Bomberger Lucas on May 14, 1944. His father was mainly of British and Swiss-German heritage and his mother was a member of a prominent Modesto family (one of her cousins is the mother of former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and director of UNICEF Ann Veneman) and was mainly of German and Scots-Irish heritage.
His parents sold retail office supplies and owned a walnut ranch in California. His father ran a stationery store and owned a small walnut orchard. His mother was a member of a prominent Modesto family (one of her cousins is the mother of former United States Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman) and was in poor health, often bedridden, throughout Lucas's childhood. Lucas himself was short and scrawny as a child; his younger sister reportedly fought with other kids who picked on him. His experiences growing up in the sleepy suburb of Modesto and his early passion for cars and motor racing would eventually serve as inspiration for his Oscar-nominated low-budget phenomenon, American Graffiti. Before young Lucas became obsessed with the movie camera, he attended Thomas Downey High School, where he was an indifferent student at best. He was interested in race car driving; he dreamed of becoming a professional race car driver. For better or worse, that dream was abruptly ended in his early adulthood when on June 12, 1962, he crashed his Autobianchi Bianchina in a car accident. The car was clipped from behind while he tried to make a left turn into his driveway. The car rolled; the racing harness that he had installed snapped, and he was thrown from the car. Had the harness not snapped—and Lucas has said it shouldn't have—he would most likely have been crushed to death by the steering column when the car smashed into a walnut tree. (The force of the impact uprooted the tree.) As it was, emergency personnel had difficulty finding a pulse and at first thought him dead.
During his recovery, Lucas reevaluated his life and decided to go to college after graduating high school. He enrolled at Modesto Junior College, where he earned an AA degree and developed a passion for cinematography and camera tricks. During this time an experimental filmmaker named Bruce Baillie tacked up a bedsheet in his backyard in 1960 to screen the work of underground, avant-garde 16 mm filmmakers like Jordan Belson, Stan Brakhage and Bruce Conner. For the next few years, Baillie's series, dubbed Canyon Cinema, toured local coffeehouses, where art films shared the stage with folksingers and stand-up comedians.
These events became a magnet for the teenage Lucas and his boyhood friend John Plummer. The 19-year-olds began slipping away to San Francisco to hang out in jazz clubs and find news of Canyon Cinema screenings in flyers at the City Lights bookstore. Already a promising photographer, Lucas became infatuated with these abstract films.
"That's when George really started exploring," Plummer recalls. "We went to a theater on Union Street that showed art movies, we drove up to San Francisco State for a film festival, and there was an old beatnik coffeehouse in Cow Hollow with shorts that were really out there." It was a season of awakening for Lucas, who had been a D-plus slacker in high school.
At an autocross track, Lucas met his first mentor in the film industry - famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler, a fellow aficionado of sleek racing machines. Wexler was impressed by the way the shy teenager handled a camera, cradling it low on his hips to get better angles. "George had a very good eye, and he thought visually," he recalls.
Lucas then transferred to the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles. USC was one of the earliest universities to have a school devoted to film studies. During the years at USC, George Lucas shared a dorm room with Randal Kleiser. Lucas was deeply influenced by the Filmic Expression course taught at the school by filmmaker Lester Novros which concentrated on the non-narrative elements of Film Form like color, light, movement, space, and time. Another huge inspiration was the Serbian montagist (and dean of the USC Film Department) Slavko Vorkapich who had been a colleague of Sergei Eisenstein's before moving to Hollywood to make stunning montage sequences for studio features at MGM and Paramount. Vorkapich taught the autonomous nature of the cinematic art form, emphasizing the unique dynamic quality of movement and kinetic energy inherent in moving film images.
Lucas saw many inspiring movies in class, particularly the visual films coming out of the National Film Board of Canada like Arthur Lipsett's 21-87, the French-Canadian cameraman Jean-Claude Labrecque's cinema verite 60 Cycles, the work of Norman McLaren, and the documentaries of Claude Jutra. Lucas fell madly in love with pure cinema and quickly became prolific at making 16 mm nonstory noncharacter visual tone poems and cinema verite with such titles as Look At Life, Herbie, 1:42.08, The Emperor, Anyone Lived in a Pretty (how) Town, filmmaker, and 6-18-67. He was passionate and interested in cinematography and editing, defining himself as a filmmaker as opposed to being a director, and he loved making abstract visual films that create emotions purely through cinema.
After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in film in 1967, he drifted a little, trying to figure out what to do next. He tried joining the United States Air Force as an officer, but was turned down because of his numerous speeding tickets. He was later drafted by the Army, but tests showed he had diabetes, the disease that killed his paternal grandfather. Lucas was prescribed medication for the disease, but his symptoms are sufficiently mild that he does not require insulin and would not be considered diabetic under the disease's current classification.
In 1967, Lucas re-enrolled as a USC graduate student in film production. Working as a teaching instructor for a class of U.S. Navy students who were being taught documentary cinematography, Lucas directed the short film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, which won first prize at the 1967-68 National Student Film Festival, and was later adapted into his first full-length feature film, THX 1138. Lucas was awarded a scholarship by Warner Brothers to observe the making of Finian's Rainbow (1968) which was being directed by Francis Ford Coppola, who at the time was revered among film school students of the time as a cinema graduate who had "made it".
Lucas co-founded the studio American Zoetrope with Coppola—whom he met during his internship at Warner Brothers—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 (1973) 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 gaming industry.
Following the success of American Graffiti, Lucas proposed new Flash Gordon film adaptation, but the rights were not available. Under the American Zoetrope banner Lucas developed Apocalypse Now to direct following work on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. As work on Star Wars dragged on, Coppola took over directing Apocalypse Now, leading to the breakdown of the American Zoetrope partnership.
Lucas was also influential in the development of industry standard post-production tools such as the Avid Film and Video non-linear editor, first developed as the Edit Droid, and also the Sound Droid, which later became the Digidesign Pro Tools sound editing and mixing software.
The animation studio Pixar was founded as the Graphics Group, one third of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm. Pixar's early computer graphics research resulted in ground breaking effects in films such as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Young Sherlock Holmes, and the group was purchased in 1986 by Steve Jobs shortly after he left Apple Computer. Jobs paid U.S. $5 million to Lucas and put U.S. $5 million as capital into the company. The sale reflected Lucas's desire to stop the cash flow losses associated with his 7-year research projects associated with new entertainment technology tools, as well as his company's new focus on creating entertainment products rather than tools. A contributing factor was cash flow difficulties following Lucas's 1983 divorce concurrent with the sudden drop off in revenues from Star Wars licenses following the release of Return of the Jedi. (Some twenty years later on January 24, 2006, Disney announced that it had agreed to buy Pixar for approximately $7.4 billion in an all-stock deal.)
On a return on investment basis, Star Wars proved to be one of the most successful films of all time. During the filming of Star Wars, Lucas waived his up front fee as director and negotiated to own the licensing rights — rights which the studio thought were nearly worthless. This decision earned him hundreds of millions of dollars, as he was able to directly profit from all the licensed games, toys, and collectibles created for the franchise. In 2006 Forbes Magazine estimated Lucas's personal wealth at US$ 3.5 billion. In 2005 Forbes.com estimated the lifetime revenue generated by the Star Wars franchise at nearly $20 billion.
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 Spielberg 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 Spielberg, Lucas is credited with (and even blamed for) establishing the blockbuster approach to filmmaking.
Lucas and director Steven Spielberg enjoy a friendship that dates to their college years, and that has resulted in collaborations on films including the Indiana Jones movies Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull(2008).
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. This made it hard for him to find a director for some of his later projects. According to some, he wanted his friend Spielberg to direct some of the later Star Wars movies, but as a member of the guild Spielberg may have been unable to do so. Spielberg has repeatedly stated that Lucas consciously did not let him direct any Star Wars films, despite the fact that Spielberg wanted to. Other directors Lucas pursued to aid him were David Lynch and David Cronenberg, both of whom declined.
Lucas was also influential in the development of industry-standard post-production tools such as the Avid Film and Video non-linear editor, first developed as the Edit Droid, and also the Sound Droid, which later became the Digidesign Pro Tools sound editing and mixing software.
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.
He recently announced that he would produce a TV series about Star Wars, which would take place between episodes III and IV. Lucas purportedly also recently announced that he plans on making two additional Star Wars films that will take place after Return of the Jedi, but this rumor was debunked at Star Wars Celebration 4 in Los Angeles, California which took place May 24th-May 28th, 2007. When Steve Sansweet, Director of Content Management and Head of Fan Relations at Lucasfilm, was asked about the proposed two films post-Return of the Jedi he stated that it was a misunderstanding of what Lucas was explaining. According to Sansweet, Lucas was referring to the two Star Wars television projects currently in production: Star Wars: Clone Wars which is a CG animated show that debuted October 3, 2008, and the yet to be titled Star Wars live action television series set to debut in 2009.
Besides his directorial and production work on movies, Lucas is one of the most significant contemporary contributor to modern movie technology. In 1975 Lucas established Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) in Van Nuys, California, 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" (considered very similar to Star Wars by many) 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.
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 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:
Lucas was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Directing and Writing for American Graffiti, and Best Directing and Writing for Star Wars. He also received the Academy's Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1991. He appeared at the 79th Academy Awards ceremony in 2007 with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola to present the Best Director award. During the speech, Spielberg and Coppola talked about the joy of winning an Oscar, making fun of Lucas, who has not won a competitive Oscar.
The American Film Institute awarded Lucas its 2005 Life Achievement Award on June 9, 2005. This was shortly after the release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, to which he jokingly made reference in his acceptance speech, stating that, since he views the entire Star Wars series as one movie, he could actually receive the award now that he had finally "gone back and finished the movie."
In 2005, Lucas donated US$1 million to help build the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to commemorate American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr..
On September 19, 2006, USC announced that George Lucas had donated $175 million to his alma mater to expand the film school. It is the largest single donation to USC and the largest gift to a film school. Previous donations led to the already existing George Lucas Instructional Building and Marcia Lucas Post-Production building.
In 1991, The George Lucas Educational Foundation was founded as a nonprofit operating foundation to celebrate and encourage innovation in schools. The Foundation's content is available under the brand Edutopia, in an award-winning magazine, on a website and via documentary films.
On January 1, 2007 George Lucas served as the Grand Marshal for the 2007 Tournament of Roses Parade, and made the coin toss at the 2007 Rose Bowl. The toss favored Lucas's alma mater, the Trojans. His team, which came into the game as underdogs, went on to defeat the Michigan Wolverines (32-18).
In 1969, Lucas married film editor Marcia Lou Griffin, who went on to win an Oscar for her editing work on the original Star Wars film. By 1978, the couple was living in San Anselmo, California, and in 1981, they adopted a daughter, Amanda, before divorcing in 1983. Lucas has since adopted two more children: Katie, born in 1988, and Jett, born in 1993. All three of his children have appeared in the prequels. Lucas had also been in a long relationship, engagement and all, with singer Linda Ronstadt. He has recently been observed at several events with Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Capital Management, who accompanied him to the 79th Academy Awards ceremony in February 2007.
Lucas was born and raised in a strongly Methodist family. After inserting religious themes into Star Wars he would eventually come to identify strongly with the Eastern religious philosophies he studied and incorporated into his movies, which were a major inspiration for "the Force." Lucas eventually came to state that his religion was "Buddhist Methodist."
Lucas is a well-known aficionado of cars and racing.
|Freiheit||1966||writer, director, and editor|
|Look at Life||1965||writer, director, and editor|
|The Bus||1965||production assistant|
|Grand Prix||1966||additional camera operator|
|Herbie||1966||writer, director, and editor|
|1:42:08||1966||writer, director, and editor|
|The Emperor||1967||writer and director|
|Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138: 4EB||1967||writer and director|
|Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town||1967||writer, director, and editor|
|6-18-67||1967||writer, director, and editor|
|Filmaker||1968||writer, director, and editor|
|Finian's Rainbow||1968||uncredited production assistant|
|The Rain People||1969||associate producer|
|Captain EO||1986||story and exec. producer|
|Star Tours||1987||characters, story, exec. producer|
|Rollin' with Saget||2006||cameo at 1:43|
|THX 1138||1971||director, story, co-writer|
|American Graffiti||1973||director, story, co-writer|
|Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope||1977||director, story, writer, exec. producer|
|More American Graffiti||1979||exec. producer|
|Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back||1980||story, exec. producer, uncredited co-director|
|Body Heat||1981||uncredited exec. producer|
|Raiders of the Lost Ark||1981||story, exec. producer, uncredited second unit director|
|Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi||1983||exec. producer, story, co-writer, uncredited co-director|
|Twice Upon a Time||1983||exec. producer|
|Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom||1984||story, exec. producer, cameo as "Tourist boarding plane"|
|Latino||1985||uncredited co-producer and co-editor|
|Howard the Duck||1986||exec. producer|
|Willow||1988||story, exec. producer|
|Tucker: The Man and His Dream||1988||exec. producer|
|The Land Before Time||1988||exec. producer|
|Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade||1989||story, exec. producer|
|Hook||1991||cameo as "Man kissing on bridge"|
|Beverly Hills Cop III||1994||cameo as "Disappointed Man"|
|Radioland Murders||1994||story, exec. producer|
|Men in Black||1997||uncredited cameo as himself|
|Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace||1999||director, story, writer, exec. producer|
|Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones||2002||director, story, co-writer, exec. producer|
|Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith||2005||director, story, writer, exec. producer, cameo as "Baron Papanoida"|
|Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull||2008||story, exec. producer|
|Star Wars: The Clone Wars||2008||story, exec. producer|
|Red Tails||2009||exec. producer|
|The Star Wars Holiday Special||1978||story|
|Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure||1984||characters, story, exec. producer|
|Star Wars: Droids||1985—1986||characters, exec. producer|
|Star Wars: Ewoks||1985—1987||characters, exec. producer|
|Ewoks: The Battle for Endor||1985||characters, story, exec. producer|
|The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles||1992—1996||characters, stories, exec. producer|
|Just Shoot Me!: "It's Raining Babies"||2003||cameo as himself|
|Star Wars: Clone Wars||2003—2005||characters, executive producer|
|The O.C.||2005||cameo as himself|
|The Colbert Report||2006||cameo as green screen finalist "George L."|
|Robot Chicken: Star Wars||2007||voice of himself|
|Star Wars: The Clone Wars||2008||executive producer|
|Star Wars live-action TV series||2010||characters, exec. producer|
|Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope novelization||1976||Writer|
|Splinter of the Mind's Eye||1978||forward to 1996 reprint|
|The Mata Hari Affair||1992||story|
|New Jedi Order||1999 - 2003||approved story|
Lucas also served as a producer on the video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and many Expanded Universe and fan productions have one form or another of the credit "Special thanks to George Lucas".
George Lucas receives a large amount of negative attention from fans who claim that his recent actions influencing the Star Wars galaxy detract from the overall value of the saga. People who argue this point vehemently are sometimes called "Lucas Bashers".
Lucas bashing is a form of criticism of the works of George Lucas, but where normal criticism typically involves pragmatic engagement on the artistic merits of a work, Lucas bashers are defined by a prejudicial stance, a lack of argumentative reasoning and prolonged, often personal, attacks.
The following are some of the usually indicators of a Lucas Basher:
A common theme throughout Lucas's works is escape. Lucas's films tend to emphasize visuals and plot. They often include chase scenes of some sort, and are often edited to move along at a fast pace. Lucas has a love of the past, and many of his works indicate this (American Graffiti, the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Radioland Murders, and Red Tales.) Additionally, his USC student films and THX 1138 were designed to be abstract and esoteric.
In 1976, Lucas published a novelization of A New Hope, which was initially (like the film) titled just Star Wars. Although Lucas was credited as author of the book, it was later revealed that the book was actually ghost written by Alan Dean Foster, who would also write Splinter of the Mind's Eye, the first original Star Wars novel and, in many respects, the first Star Wars sequel.
Lucas is a member of the United Methodist Church, though he claims that he doesn't believe in a specific religion, due to his college studies.
In his spare time, Lucas enjoys playing Star Wars video games with his children. He has also been known to read some of the Star Wars comic books, including Dark Empire. At one point, Lucas even said that he liked the story presented in the Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire multimedia project so well, that if he had had the story in the 1980s, he might have produced a film based on the events in it; in addition, Dash Rendar's Outrider was added leaving Mos Eisley during the special edition of A New Hope.
In addition to his role as Baron N. Papanoida, Lucas has made two Expanded Universe appearances. His name was modified for Egroeg Sacul, a character paged on the Star Tours ride. His likeness was also used for a limited-edition action figure of a character called Jorg Sacul.
In the vast majority of Star Wars video games published by LucasArts place his name at the bottom of the credits in his own section labeled "Very Special Thanks".
Lucas also appears twice in the Tag and Bink comics. He appears in Tag & Bink: Revenge of the Clone Menace in Dex's Diner and is also depicted among the many characters chasing Tag Greenly and Bink Otauna on the back of the Tag and Bink Were Here trade paperback.
Lucas's cameo also appears in third part of X-wing Rogue Squadron: The Phantom Affair comic.
George Lucas and Sofia Coppola share the same birthday.
His changing of films was parodied in a season six episode of South Park, titled "Free Hat", where the boys try to stop him and Steven Spielberg from changing Raiders of the Lost Ark.