After entering University of Southern California (USC), George Lucas further realized how much filmmaking meant for him. He became more immersed into the art form through the many films he watched in his film classes. He was particularly inspired with the visual films from the National Film Board of Canada such as Arthur Lipsett’s 21-87, Jean-Claude Labrecque’s 60 Cycles, ad the works of Norman McLaren, and the documentary projects of Claude Jutra.
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Early Filmmaking Style
Lucas naturally had the imagination of a storyteller. At the same time, he had the technological skills and passion and interest in camerawork and editing. He also defined himself as a filmmaker as supposed to being a director.
Falling in love with pure cinema, he started making various kinds of 16mm films from non-narrative, non-character, poetic films to cinema verite projects. His interest in mythology and philosophy surfaced and added dimension to his many works. His professors noticed how his works looked deeper and more personal than the other students’ works. From the very beginning, his early attempts with filmmaking showcased his unique vision and his out-of-the-box concepts. He also went beyond the restrictions, and often became very successful with his many attempts. He had a distinctive style that made him one of the most promising film students at USC. His works made many professors convinced that the younger ones could do great works beyond the conventions.
As a film student, he made a number of short films including Look at Life, Herbie, 1:42:08, The Emperor, Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town, Filmmaker, and 6-18-67. His works showed his passion in making abstract, visual, and experimental films evoking much emotions through the motion picture medium.
In 1967, he graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in film. Right after, he tried joining the U.S. Air Force as an officer; however, he wasn’t accepted due to his numerous speeding tickets. He was then drafted by the U.S. Army for military service in Vietnam. In the end, he didn’t get through after his medical tests showed he had diabetes.
He went back to USC in the same year as a graduate student in film production. At the same time, he worked as a teaching instructor for documentary cinematography classes of U.S. Navy students.
Lucas’ short film entitled Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB won the first prize at the 1967-68 National Student Film Festival. Soon, it was adapted into his first full-length feature film entitled THX 1138.
Lucas received a student scholarship from Warner Brothers to observe and work on the making of his own choice of film project. He chose the 1968 film Finian’s Rainbow by Francis Ford Coppola. Film students revered Coppola’s works being a film graduate who successfully made it in Hollywood.
In 1969, George Lucas became one of the camera operators for Gimme Shelter, a documentary chronicling the 1969 U.S. tour of The Rolling Stones. This film directed by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin was screened at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival.
Lucas further built his networks and portfolio. He also became good friends with Coppola, which would lead to more film collaborations in the future.
“Biography for George Lucas,” IMDb.com.
“George Lucas,” WIkipedia.
“George Lucas Biography,” Academy of Achievement.
“George Lucas Biography,” Biography.com.
“George Lucas,” Encyclopedia of World Biography.
“Inside LucasFilm: George Lucas, Chairman,” LucasFilm Ltd.
“George Lucas Biography,” Filmmakers.com.
“George Lucas: Biography,” TV Guide.
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