Harry Ransom Heads to a Galaxy Far, Far Away

HRC brings former ILM head Thomas G. Smith to Austin

Student volunteer Carly Dearborn and Ransom Center Curator of Film Steve Wilson with materials from the Tom Smith collection (and, yes, that's a storyboard from 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' on the table)
Student volunteer Carly Dearborn and Ransom Center Curator of Film Steve Wilson with materials from the Tom Smith collection (and, yes, that's a storyboard from 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' on the table) (Photo by Pete Smith.)

The Harry Ransom Center has made some major cinematic acquisitions, but now it heads to a galaxy far, far away with the archives of visual effects guru Thomas G. Smith, a key figure in creating the look of the Star Wars universe.

The HRC has acquired 22 boxes from Smith, who headed up George Lucas' industry-shaking Industrial Light and Magic from 1980 to 1986. He will be visiting the UT campus on April 19, and he'll be fitting a special evening event at Studio 6A in the Jesse H. Jones Communications Building into his trip.

Smith's resume is loaded with 80s cinematic touchstones – Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, ET: The Extraterrestrial, Poltergeist Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. However, before that he had a sterling career making around 80 educational movies for Encyclopaedia Britannica Educational Corporation, PBS and more. The HRC's curator of films Steve Wilson wrote, "Tom Smith's collection will be of tremendous interest to students and scholars studying special effects in film and its impact on our culture. His work and the films he helped create will be studied for generations to come, and we're grateful for this generous and important gift."

The collection covers 1979 to 2003, and includes a selection of film originals and rarities, such as storyboards from Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark and a hand-annotated copy of the script for Dick Tracy (the hand in question belonged to Warren Beatty.) After being cataloged, it will go alongside such other major movie acquisitions as the David O. Selznick collection and the Robert De Niro archive.

An Evening with Tom Smith, 7pm, April 19, Studio 6A, Jesse H. Jones Communication Center, W. Dean Keeton.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Star Wars
Rooster Teeth Goes to the Dark Side
Rooster Teeth Goes to the Dark Side
How Star Wars superfan Blaine Gibson got pranked

Richard Whittaker, May 4, 2018

<i>Chronicle</i> Recommends: <i>Star Wars</i> Actors in Non-<i>Star Wars</i> Films
Star Wars Actors in Non-Star Wars Films
Celebrate May the Fourth away from a galaxy far, far away

Chronicle Film Staff, May 3, 2018

More Harry Ransom Center
Full Arthur Miller Archive Lands at UT
Full Arthur Miller Archive Lands at UT
Ransom Center acquires complete papers by The Crucible author

Robert Faires, Jan. 12, 2018

Ransom Center Lands Ondaatje Archive
Ransom Center Lands Ondaatje Archive
Author of The English Patient sends papers to UT

Robert Faires, Sept. 26, 2017

More by Richard Whittaker
One in a Crowd: Vulcan Video Needs Your Help
One in a Crowd: Vulcan Video Needs Your Help
Keep the tapes rolling at Austin's VHS and DVD institution

May 23, 2019

RTX Orders a <i>Stuber</i>
RTX Orders a Stuber
Rooster Teeth snags special screening of the SXSW favorite

May 23, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Star Wars, Harry Ransom Center, HRC, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Thomas G. Smith

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle