An Open Letter To George Lucas

I understand this is completely off topic for this blog, but I have some things on my mind and this is my broadest reach, so I’m posting this here. If you consider this an abuse of my position I do apologize, but please bear with me. During the ramp up to Star Wars The Force Awakens and since it’s phenomenal opening weekend there has been a lot of “Lucas bashing” going on. Please understand I don’t consider George infallible, far from it. But for some reason people have felt it necessary to get very personal about it. It’s gotten really nasty at times, and it breaks my heart. I thought I’d take some time to share some positive thoughts. People take George’s contributions for granted now, but I’d like to remind the world that without his imagination and vision, there would be no force, no x-wings, no astromechs, no jedi, and on and on. But it goes beyond that, way beyond. It was George that spurred a revolution in visual effects, pushed the boundaries of computer graphics, changed editing with non-linear methodology, opened our ears to proper sound with THX and changed the landscape of the motion picture industry forever. If you enjoy watching or working on movies, you have experienced his influence, even if you’ve overlooked it. I haven’t. I thought I’d write him a letter, just share a few thoughts as I look at my Christmas tree adorned with Star Wars ornaments wearing my Star Wars cozy pants and hoping that somewhere under that tree is a Star Wars present waiting for me. Do I expect him to read it? Not really, my little website is barely a blip on the world’s radar. I don’t expect he’ll ever see this. But I’ll know I’ve shared my thoughts, and I hope you’ll excuse my indulgence.

Dear George,

You made me who I am. I realize this sounds like nonsense, but I feel it’s true. I was nine years old when Star Wars came out, the perfect age to be warped for life. Not to sound like a gushing fanboy, but I was utterly rocked to my core by it. Beyond just great characters in a fantastic world having a splendid adventure, it was transformative filmmaking. You changed the way movies were made, and you inspired and motivated me. I was the creative type before Star Wars came out of course, I feel that artists are born with the need to create. But you ignited a creative flame in me that has never ceased to burn. You inspired me to learn to make models, to build worlds, to overcome technical challenges and to tell stories. I got my first movie camera when I was twelve and I’ve been trying to cobble together compelling moving images ever since. I broke into the motion picture industry when I was nineteen, and I’ve had the privilege of working in makeup and visual effects on some great (and of course not-so-great) movies ever since. These days I’m semi retired from VFX, having endured the decimation of the industry at the hands of studio greed and foreign incentives. But I haven’t let that dampen my creativity, in fact I’m telling my own little stories now, and it’s been very fulfilling. I still work on one or two movies a year to help make ends meet, I’ve never worked so hard for so little in my life since starting my own company, but it’s also so very rewarding. After over a quarter century in the industry, I should probably be jaded, but I still get that deep thrill in my gut when I step on set or pass through the gates of a studio, like my heart jumping for joy. I still adore the industry that I fell in love with, I just can’t sacrifice my lifestyle and family to work on movies anymore. That love was sparked by you, when I sat in a darkened theater as a child and watched the adventures of Luke Skywalker unfold before me. Every once in awhile I stand in my humble little studio, surrounded by c-stands, lights, cameras and the tools of the trade, gazing at some ridiculous LEGO setup in front of a green screen and I get just a hint of that thrill in my gut. As I make a cup of tea or have a story meeting in what we call the “nerd lounge” in my studio, I do so under a poster of Star Wars, for I will never forget where this all started for me. I know this is all a bit melodramatic, but it is impossible to overstate the influence you’ve had on my life. In fact, when it came time to name my second son, my wife and I had long conversations about the influential people in our lives, the people that helped make us who we are. I thought about it a lot, and it wasn’t my parents, it wasn’t a favorite aunt or uncle, it wasn’t grandparents, it was you. No other single individual on this planet has had more of an influence in my life. We named him Connor Lucas.

Thank you George, for everything you’ve done, for sharing your imagination and stories with us, for shaping the industry that I love and for awakening the creative force within me. Merry Christmas.