(written from a Production point of view)
Stephen "Steve" C. Gawley (born 1952) was an employee at Industrial Light & Magic who was assigned as the supervising modelmaker on three Star Trek films and the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint". He was largely responsible for supervising the construction of such studio models as the USS Reliant and USS Excelsior. Gawley was interviewed for the "Space Docks and Birds of Prey" special on the Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) DVD, where he discusses the design process of the studio models for that movie.
Gawley studied Industrial Design at the California State University in Long Beach, California. In 1975 he was hired by George Lucas for a drafting job and found himself soon after this as one of the first 14 employees at Lucas' newly formed company Industrial Light & Magic. With his friend Joe Johnston (an ILM staffer of Star Wars fame), Gawley commuted to his work in his pick-up truck, that would attain fame in Star Wars lore as it was used for filming the high speed Death Star trench sequence. In 1990 Gawley received an Academy Award nomination for Best Effects, Visual Effects for his work on the science fiction sequel Back to the Future Part II which he shared with Ken Ralston, Michael Lantieri, and John Bell. The team also won a BAFTA Film Award for Best Special Effects for their work on this film. In 2006, Gawley won a Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Motion Picture for his work on Steven Spielberg's science fiction remake War of the Worlds, which he shared with Edward Hirsh, Joshua Ong, and Russell Paul.
Gawley's first work was as model builder for the miniature and optical effects unit for the 1977 science fiction blockbuster Star Wars. He also had a small cameo part as a Death Star Trooper in this film.  For its sequel Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 he worked as modelshop foreman for the miniature and optical effects unit. On the third installment Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi in 1983 he was the modelshop supervisor.
Other films Gawley worked for ILM on include the Battlestar Galactica pilot (1978), the adventure Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), the science fiction movie Cocoon (1985), the science fiction film Enemy Mine (1985), the short science fiction film Captain EO (1986), the horror comedy The Witches of Eastwick (1987), the science fiction comedy Innerspace (1987), the crime comedy Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988, with Christopher Lloyd), the sequel Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), the thriller The Hunt for Red October (1990), the fantasy action film The Rocketeer (1991, with Bill Campbell), the fantasy comedy Death Becomes Her (1992), and the blockbuster Jurassic Park (1993).
Gawley worked on all three Back to the Future films (1985, 1989, 1990) as supervising modelmaker and was interviewed for the television special The Secrets of the Back To The Future Trilogy in 1990.
Further credits for ILM include the action film Mission: Impossible (1996), the science fiction comedy Mars Attacks! (1996), the science fiction blockbuster Men in Black (1997), the science fiction film Starship Troopers (1997, with Dina Meyer), Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) and its sequel Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), the action drama Pearl Harbor (2001), the science fiction film Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001), the horror film Dreamcatcher (2003), the comic adaptation Hulk (2003), the adventure Peter Pan (2003), the fantasy film Van Helsing (2004), the action sequel Mission: Impossible III (2006), and the two Pirates of the Caribbean sequels Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007).
Gawley worked for ILM for 31 years until August 2006. In 2005 ILM, in order to concentrate more fully on the digital techniques for creating visual effects, such as CGI, decided to split off the physical production departments for them to eventually become a separate company, Kerner Optical. Gawley, as a specialized physical model maker, moved to over to the new company. For Kerner Optical, Gawley worked as model/ miniature maker on the 2007 comedy Evan Almighty.
Star Trek credits
- Star Trek films
- TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint" - Supervising Modelmaker (uncredited)