That summer I was recovering from a bad accident, oddly enough that happened the week after the film arrived. That accident put me in the hospital for two weeks, lost me my job and still effects me to this day. It was also during the time I was actually thinking I had a chance of ever going pro as a racer so all my money was spent on tires and entry fees. Even though I had been making movies since I was about 8 they were not a priority.
So Everyone was talking about STAR WARS yesterday but I was on the road with the family so I couldn’t. Anyone who knows me knows STAR WARS was a big part of my life so here goes.
I didn’t go see STAR WARS on opening day, but in January of 1977 I was working as an usher at CENTURY 21 Theatres. It was a typical Saturday, the day when couriers from the film distributors dropped on new films and previews in re-enforced masonite boxes wrapped in straps. That Saturday we got a box from FOX labeled STAR WARS. That, of course, peaked my interest as I was a SF fan (note, NOTE SciFi). I took it to the projection booth and Gary, the projectionist, threaded it up and we watched it, just the two of us in the darkened theatre.
We watched it twice.
The Gary said: “This is either going to be really great or it is going to SUCK”
I finally went to see STAR WARS at a matinee at that same Century 21 theatre. Gary let me in for free, I bought popcorn and a Dr/ Pepper and settled into an almost empty theatre.
I watched it three times and the story and the effects changed my life forever.
Racing was going nowhere so I sold my car and went back to school to study video and film. Also I met my future wife and an array of friend who are, well, still my friends and began doing convention art shows. My art was passible and I met a lot of great other artists. ILM was now a goal for me as the people who worked there showed up at cons in their silver bomber jackets and talked about stuff that I did think was magic. I wanted to earn one of those jackets but never did.
After a time spent in Los Angeles trying to get into animation (I finally left after a friend told me that I would NEVR make it there with my skills and like a fool I believed him) I moved back to Nor Cal, got married and…well started working at lucasfilm games.
The edges of this fact are hazy but the possibility does exist that I was the first 3D artist (aside form John Whitney and Gary Demos) to build an X-wing Fighter, which was for the game X-Wing. It was a long way from that empty theatre to then.
So happy birthday STAR WARS, and thanks for the life.