There's no mistaking the similarities. A childhood on a dusty farm, a love of fast vehicles, a rebel who battles an overpowering empire.
His filmmaking outpost, Skywalker Ranch, could be on the forest moon of Endor, as it is so far from Hollywood. Lucas built his film operation in Marin County near San Franciscolargely to avoid the meddling of Los Angeles-based studios.
The enterprise has far surpassed the 68-year-old filmmaker's original goals. The ranch covers 6,100 acres and houses one of the industry's most acclaimed visual effects companies, Industrial Light & Magic.
"What I was trying to do was stay independent so that I could make the movies I wanted to make. I've found myself being the head of a corporation ... I have become the very thing that I was trying to avoid."
Growing up in the central California town of Modesto, the independent streak was strong in young Lucas. The family lived on a walnut ranch and Lucas' father owned a stationery store. George had no interest in taking over the family business. Lucas and his father fought when George made it clear that he'd rather go to college to study art than follow in his father's footsteps.
George loved fast cars, and dreamed that racing them would be his ticket out. A near-fatal car crash the day before his high school graduation convinced him otherwise. "I decided I'd better settle down and go to school." As a film student at the University of Southern California, he experimented with "cinema verite," a provocative form of documentary, and "tone poems" that visualized a piece of music or other artistic work.
Lucas' epic battle with the movie industry began after Warner Bros., later with Universal Pictures. Lucas felt impinged on his creative freedom. The experience led Lucas to insist on having total control of all his work, just like Charlie Chaplin and Walt Disney in their heyday.
"In order to get my vision out there, I really needed to learn how to manipulate the system because the system is designed to tear you down and destroy everything you are doing," Lucas said in an interview with Charlie Rose.
He shopped his outline for "Star Wars" to several studios before finding a friend in Alan Ladd Jr., an executive at 20th Century Fox. Despite budget and deadline overruns, and pressure from the studio, the movie grossed $798 million in theaters worldwide and caused Fox's stock price at the time to double.
In one of the wisest business moves in Hollywood history, Lucas cut a deal with distributor Fox before the film's release so that he could retain ownership of the sequels and rights for merchandise.
Industrial Light & Magic, the unit he started in a makeshift space in the Los Angeles suburb of Van Nuys, moved to the ranch in northern California and lent its prowess to other movies. It broke ground using computers, motion-controlled cameras, models and masks. Its reach is breathtaking, notably among the biggest science fiction movies of the 1980s: "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," ''Poltergeist," ''Back to the Future," ''Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark," ''Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" and more.
"Between him and (Steven) Spielberg, they changed how movies got made." These days, the talent at ILM has spread around the globe, and many former employees have become top executives at other special effects companies. "You meet anybody who's a significant executive or artist at a company, they've spent their time at ILM or got their start there.
Lucas helped make the tools that were needed for his films. ILM developed the world's first computerized film editing and music mixing technology, revolutionizing what had been a cut-and-splice affair. Pixar, the imaging computer he founded as a division of Lucasfilm, became a world-famous animated movie company. Apple's Steve Jobs bought and later sold it to Disney in 2006.
Giving up his role at the head of Lucasfilm may shield him from the fury of rebellious fans and critics. He said in a video released by Disney that the sale would allow him to "do other things, things in philanthropy and doing more experimental kind of films."
"I couldn't really drag my company into that."
"It's 40 years of work and it's been my life, but I'm ready to move on to bigger and better things. I have a foundation, an educational foundation. I do a lot of work with education, and I'm very excited about doing that."
This week he assured the incoming president of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy that he'd be around to advise her on future "Star Wars" movies —just like the apparition of Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi helps Luke through his adventures.
"They're finishing the hologram now," he told Kennedy. "Don't worry."
Read More: http://news.yahoo.com/george-lucas-filmmaking-rooted-rebellion-162252535--finance.html
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