Director George Lucas was born on May 14, 1944, in Modesto, California. He grew up in the suburbs, which inspired his 1973 film American Graffiti. He studied cinematography at the University of Southern California and caught the eye of Francis Ford Coppola, who helped him enter the film business. Lucas is best known for writing and directing Star Wars and creating the Indiana Jones series, as well as founding the Industrial Light & Magic special effects company.
Before young Lucas became obsessed with the movie camera, he wanted to be a race car driver, but a near fatal accident in his souped-up Fiat just days before his high school graduation quickly changed his mind. Instead, he attended community college and developed a passion for cinematography and camera tricks.
Following the advice of a friend, he transferred to the University of Southern California filmmaking school. There, he produced a short futuristic sci-fi film called Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, and garnered a comfortable spot under the wing of Francis Ford Coppola, who took an active interest in unleashing new filmmaking talent. Coppola convinced Warner Brothers to make a feature length version of the film, and although a few critics recognized some philosophical depth behind all the technical wizardry, THX 1138 (re-titled) flopped terribly in its 1971 release.