Award-winning director, screenwriter, executive producer, occasional actor, and "Star Wars" creator George Lucas turns 70 today. Happy birthday, sir!
Modesto, California-native George Lucas has carved a name for himself in the field of filmmaking, yet in the beginning, his dream apparently was to become a race car driver. Lucas spent his high school years participating in underground races; however, after meeting a near-fatal accident in 1962, he changed his mind.
It was in community college where Lucas developed his passion for filmmaking. He would eventually transfer to the University of California School of Cinematic Arts, where he would be exposed to filmmaking techniques and works that would later on inspire his own, become affiliated with a clique called The Dirty Dozen, and meet fellow student, friend, and collaborator Steven Spielberg. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in fine arts in film in 1967, Lucas took up graduate studies in film production at the same university. Here, he directed the short film “Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB” which would be adapted into his very first full-length feature in 1971 with the help of Francis Ford Coppola.
Unfortunately, “THX 1138” reportedly flopped in the box office. Despite this initial failure, Lucas went on to direct his second film, “American Graffiti,” in 1973. This time, the filmmaker finally had a taste of success as his low-budget effort was recognized by the Academy, honoring him with five nominations.
Of course, Lucas’ most famous work is the highly successful “Star Wars” franchise, with the first film released in 1977. “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” as well as the spin-off “The Clone Wars” premiered in 1980, 1983, and 2008, respectively, although Lucas only took up writer and producer duties. He would once again take full reign more than 20 years later in “The Phantom Menace” (1999), “Attack of the Clones” (2002), and “Revenge of the Sith” (2005). Meanwhile, Lucas serves as the writer for the upcoming installment “Star Wars Episode VII” slated to release next year.
In between the “Star Wars” films, Lucas worked on several successful films either as a writer, executive producer, or, on a few occasions, actor. The list includes Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones” series. In all, Lucas was able to work on a total of no less than 50 full-length features, short films, and TV specials. However, in 2012, Lucas announced his intention to retire from producing large scale films to focus on smaller independent features. Aside from being a prolific and respected filmmaker, Lucas has also established special effects company Industrial Light and Magic, as well as Lucasfilm, Ltd. and its divisions.
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