George Lucas's devotion to timeless storytelling and cutting-edge innovation has resulted in some of the most successful and beloved films of all time.
Lucas's films celebrate the boundless potential of the individual to overcome any limitations - something he firmly believes. This theme is strong in the early movies that marked the start of his professional career. In 1971, using San Francisco production studio American Zoetrope and long-time friend Francis Ford Coppola as executive producer, Lucas transformed an award-winning student film into his first feature, THX 1138.
Lucas's second feature film, the low-budget American Graffiti (1973), became the most successful film of its time, and garnered the Golden Globe, the New York Film Critics' and National Society of Film Critics' awards. Pushing the boundaries of storytelling into new directions, American Graffiti was the first film of its kind to tell multiple stories through interweaving narratives backed by a soundtrack of contemporary music.
It was Lucas's third film, 1977's Star Wars that changed everything. A deceptively simple morality tale of good versus evil told across a fantastic landscape of exotic planets and bizarre creatures, Star Wars became an international phenomenon, despite the fact that few saw its potential during production. Refusing to accept the limitations of filmmaking at the time, Lucas created his own visual effects company, Industrial Light & Magic, to deliver the more than 300 shots required to make his vision a reality. Star Wars broke all box office records, set new standards for sophistication in film visuals and sound, garnered eight Academy Awards, and inspired a generation of young people to follow their imagination and dreams. The success of Star Wars allowed Lucas to remain independent and continue operating in Marin County, California.
Lucas has been storywriter and executive producer of a series of box-office hits beginning in the 1980s, starting with the continuation of the Star Wars saga, The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983. In 1981, he created the classic adventurer Indiana Jones, and co-wrote and executive-produced the successful series consisting of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), a trilogy that won eight Academy Awards. Later, the television series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles won 12 Emmy Awards.
In 1987, Lucas served as executive producer for Disneyland's launch of Star Tours, an innovative attraction based on the Star Wars films that now entertains crowds in all four Disney theme parks worldwide.
Lucas executive-produced two very different films in 1988. The adventure-fantasy film Willow was based on Lucas's original story and directed by Ron Howard. Tucker: The Man And His Dream was directed by Francis Coppola. Each film received three Academy Award nominations. Later films have included 1994's Radioland Murders, Special Editions of the classic Star Wars Trilogy in 1997, and the first two prequels to the Star Wars saga. Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, was the top box office hit of 1999.
Three years later, Episode II Attack of the Clones, was the first major live-action movie to be shot entirely digitally. Lucas is currently in post production on the third and final prequel, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, which is scheduled to be released in spring 2005.
Lucas expanded Lucasfilm, of which he is Chairman of the Board, to encompass a number of major divisions. Industrial Light & Magic has continued to grow, delivering visual effects for scores of films. ILM reached the limits of standard photochemical visual effects processes, and began trailblazing the world of digital imagery. In 1985, ILM developed the first digital creature -- an animated stained glass knight in Young Sherlock Holmes -- and in 1988 debuted the "morphing" effect for Willow. ILM continued breaking new ground with the watery pseudo-pod in The Abyss, the liquid-metal killer in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and the amazingly lifelike dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. The computer graphic research division of Lucasfilm was spun-off in 1986 and became Pixar Animation Studios.
Skywalker Sound has applied its own perfection and devotion to the crafting of a film's soundtrack and post-production editing. Lucasfilm post-production innovations, including the SoundDroid and the EditDroid, pioneered non-linear video editing and became the basis of the standard editing platforms used in film and television today.
Lucasfilm also includes LucasArts Entertainment Company, a leading developer of home computer and console-based entertainment, and Lucas Licensing, which has expanded the Star Wars and Indiana Jones brands into best-selling novels, toys and merchandise
Lucas has taken a leadership role in applying his technical and storytelling expertise to the classroom, engaging students through interactive multimedia environments. He is Chairman of the Board of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, and serves on the board of the Film Foundation and the USC School of Cinema-Television Advisory Board.
In 1992, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences honored George Lucas with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, which is presented to "creative producers whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production."