Austin Chronicle Features Former ILM Head Tom Smith
Posted By Mike on April 17, 2012
The Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas has acquired the personal archives of former Industrial Light and Magic head, Tom Smith. Not only that, but the ILM alumni will also be speaking at the University of Texas on April 19th (7:00PM - Studio 6A, Jesse H. Jones Communication Center).
Richard Whittaker, of the Austin Chronicle, got the chance to interview Mr. Smith and provides a nice article which takes a look back to the early days of ILM. Here's an excerpt:
"However, there’s a little bit of modesty there: When he came on-board, ILM was basically just the effects workshop for The Empire Strikes Back. Ninety employees were working over fifty hours a week in what Lucasfilm’s other divisions called "Animal House, because it looked like chaos with workers in rough outfits doing the sometimes grimy work of filming on dusty stages." This was actually the second ILM: The original, featuring such future giants of FX as designer Joe Johnston and model maker Dennis Murren, closed after the first Star Wars film, but when that became a massive success Lucas opened a new. Smith recalled, "When Lucas hired me, the first thing he said was that he didn’t want to close down after Empire Strikes Back. He told me I’d have to find outside work to keep ILM running till he needed it again. He also added that it had to stand alone; he would not subsidize it. He made it clear if we couldn’t turn a profit to survive, he’d close it up."'