Research Log – George Lucas – Early Life and Career

Source: Wikipedia

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Short description: An insight to the early life and film career of George Lucas.

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Information Obtained:

Early Life

‘Lucas was born and raised in Modesto, California. He is of German, Swiss-German, English, Scottish, and distant Dutch and French descent. Growing up, Lucas had a passion for cars and motor racing, which later inspired his films 1:42.08 and American Graffiti. Long before Lucas became obsessed with filmmaking, he yearned to be a race-car driver, and he spent most of his high school years racing on the underground circuit at fairgrounds and hanging out at garages. He attended Modesto Junior College, where he studied anthropology, sociology, and literature, amongst other subjects. He also began shooting with an 8 mm camera, including filming car races.

‘Lucas then transferred to the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts. USC was one of the earliest universities to have a school devoted to motion picture film’. At this college he ‘became good friends with fellow acclaimed student filmmaker and future Indiana Jones collaborator, Steven Spielberg’.

Film Career

‘Lucas saw many inspiring films in class, particularly the visual films coming out of the National Film Board of Canada like Arthur Lipsett’s 2187. 

‘Lucas fell madly in love with pure cinema and quickly became prolific at making 16 mm nonstory noncharacter visual tone poems 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 camerawork and editing, defining himself as a filmmaker as opposed to being a director, and he loved making abstract visual films that created emotions purely through cinema.’

‘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 student scholarship by Warner Bros. to observe and work on the making of a film of his choosing. The film he chose was Finian’s Rainbow. In 1969, Lucas was one of the camera operators on the classic Rolling Stones concert film Gimme Shelter.’

‘His first full-length feature film produced by the studio, THX 1138, was not a success. Lucas then created his own company, Lucasfilm, Ltd., and directed the successful American Graffiti (1973).’

From this, he gained enough wealth and reputation and became director for the ‘highest grossing film of all time’, Star Wars (1997).

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