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Bill George

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Bill George

Bill George

Bill George 2009

Bill George in 2009

For the fictional character named after Bill George, please see William George (Starfleet).

William "Bill" George was a model maker whose earliest recorded professional contribution was as an uncredited model maker for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Later on, as an employee of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), one of his first jobs in that company was as model maker for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. He subsequently became the visual effects art director for two other Star Trek films, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Star Trek Generations, and an art consultant on Star Trek: First Contact. Apart from the features, George was also a member of the team that built the six-foot model of the USS Enterprise-D for the 1987 television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, refurbishing it seven years later for Generations. George was interviewed for the special feature "Industrial Light & Magic: The Next Generation" on the 2009 DVD release of Star Trek: First Contact.


In his teenage years, George used to forage through the dumpsters outside the Van Nuys, Los Angeles facility of ILM, hoping to find souvenirs. In 1979, he began his career in earnest, building miniatures for Greg Jein in Los Angeles, The Motion Picture being his first, albeit uncredited, professional assignment. He was part of Jein's "following", having made his acquaintance through the movie memorabilia collector (which Jein was) convention circuit, as fellow model builder at the time, Lisa Morton, recalled, "There were are group of us he [Jein] kind of mentioned it to, and he called us one day and said, "Hey, we are on Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and we need an army to get this thing done on time. Do you want to come to work?" Needless to say, yes was the answer." (Sense of Scale) George happened to be one of Morton's "group". Brought in by Apogee, Inc., in order to alleviate the time pressure on that company, Jein's "group", was tasked with the construction of the exterior and interior model sections of V'Ger.

Bill George managed to join ILM two years later, Wrath of Khan being one of his earliest projects. He was hired due to the fact that he brought along a home made Y-Wing fighter model from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), that was eventually used in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) as the new Y-Wing "hero" model when the original two versions proved unsuitable. This was not unlike his privately build USS Pasteur, or rather USS Olympic, a hobby project, which ended up being filmed for the TNG series' finale, "All Good Things...".

While at ILM, Bill George was responsible for the design of the USS Excelsior as eventually featured, and constructed the prototype for the Klingon Bird-of-Prey, as well as the orbital shuttle studio model. He was also credited with being the "co-inventor" of the design of the phaser used in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock on the design patent issued for it in 1986. According to Michael Okuda, George built the model of the SD-103 for The Undiscovered Country which was later modified and reused as the USS Jenolen in the Star Trek: The Next Generation sixth season episode "Relics".

George has never left ILM and is as of 2011 still in that company's employment, contributing to the majority of its productions. Having started out as a model maker, he has risen to the position of visual effects supervisor. While George, an avid Star Trek fan and having contributed to most Star Trek movie features, never did receive an award nomination or win for Star Trek, he has received two Visual Effects Society Award nominations (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban-2004 and Star Tours: The Adventures Continue-2011), one Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards nomination (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets-2002), one Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards nomination (Galaxy Quest-1999), two BAFTA Film Award nominations (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), four Saturn Award nominations (Innerspace-1987, Galaxy Quest, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), and finally two Academy Award nominations for Innerspace and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the former one he won.

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