George Lucas aspired to become a professional race car driver, but a near-fatal accident just after his high school graduation put an end to those dreams. He enrolled at Modesto Junior College instead, took classes in anthropology, sociology and literature, among others, and began shooting with an 8mm camera, which also included filming a few car races.
After transferring to the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Lucas became part of a young clique of film students known as The Dirty Dozen and later became good friends with fellow student filmmaker Steven Spielberg. In 1967, he was awarded a Warner Bros. scholarship to observe the making of “Finian’s Rainbow,” a film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Lucas and Coppola developed a strong friendship, and just two years later they formed a company called American Zoetrope. A short time later, however, Coppola went into the production of “The Godfather;” Lucas decided to create his own company, Lucasfilm Ltd.
In 1973, he wrote and directed the semi-autobiographical hit, American Graffiti, and from there began writing the screenplay for “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.”
Lucas later established Industrial Light and Magic to produce the visual effects needed for the movie. Another company, Sprocket Systems, was created to edit and mix Star Wars and later became known as Skywalker Sound. Lucas also teamed with Steven Spielberg in creating the hugely successful “Indiana Jones” series.
From 1980 to 1985, Lucas was busy with the construction of Skywalker Ranch, built to accommodate the creative, technical, and administrative needs of Lucasfilm. He also revolutionized movie theaters with the THX System which was created to maintain the highest quality standards in motion picture viewing. And he went on to make several more movies that have created major breakthroughs in film making.In 2005, Lucas sold Lucasfilm to The Walt Disney Co. for $4.05 billion.