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Inside the Star Wars Empire: A Memoir

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Bill Kimberlin may refer to himself as "one of those names on the endless list of credits at the close of blockbuster movies." In reality though, he's a true insider on some of the most celebrated and popular movies and franchises of the past century. Jurassic Park. Star Trek. Jumanji. Schindler's List. Saving Private Ryan. Even Forrest Gump. And perhaps most notably, Star Bill Kimberlin may refer to himself as "one of those names on the endless list of credits at the close of blockbuster movies." In reality though, he's a true insider on some of the most celebrated and popular movies and franchises of the past century. Jurassic Park. Star Trek. Jumanji. Schindler's List. Saving Private Ryan. Even Forrest Gump. And perhaps most notably, Star Wars. Inside the Star Wars Empire is the very funny and insightful tell-all about the two decades Kimberlin spent as a department director at LucasFilm Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), the special effects studio founded by the legendary filmmaker George Lucas.


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Bill Kimberlin may refer to himself as "one of those names on the endless list of credits at the close of blockbuster movies." In reality though, he's a true insider on some of the most celebrated and popular movies and franchises of the past century. Jurassic Park. Star Trek. Jumanji. Schindler's List. Saving Private Ryan. Even Forrest Gump. And perhaps most notably, Star Bill Kimberlin may refer to himself as "one of those names on the endless list of credits at the close of blockbuster movies." In reality though, he's a true insider on some of the most celebrated and popular movies and franchises of the past century. Jurassic Park. Star Trek. Jumanji. Schindler's List. Saving Private Ryan. Even Forrest Gump. And perhaps most notably, Star Wars. Inside the Star Wars Empire is the very funny and insightful tell-all about the two decades Kimberlin spent as a department director at LucasFilm Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), the special effects studio founded by the legendary filmmaker George Lucas.

30 review for Inside the Star Wars Empire: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    Really just a series of anecdotes and essays. Sometimes about the movie industry, often not. The book is a bit misleading in that Kimberlin didn't work on Star Wars until Return of the Jedi and maybe 20% of the book is about this topic. Another 30% of the book is about the author's time at Lucasfilm with the other 50% being about his personal life. While there are some interesting stories about Lucasfilm, none go into much depth. The book is all over the map as far as the structure goes. One cha Really just a series of anecdotes and essays. Sometimes about the movie industry, often not. The book is a bit misleading in that Kimberlin didn't work on Star Wars until Return of the Jedi and maybe 20% of the book is about this topic. Another 30% of the book is about the author's time at Lucasfilm with the other 50% being about his personal life. While there are some interesting stories about Lucasfilm, none go into much depth. The book is all over the map as far as the structure goes. One chapter will be about Jurassic Park, the next about the history of his family. It reminded me of sitting down next to a retired fellow at a coffee shop and not being able to extract yourself for several hours.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Scott Rhee

    It’s hard to get too angry at Bill Kimberlin for his extremely misleading memoir, “Inside the Star Wars Empire”, although I can understand why readers might be. Star Wars fans (like myself) may be tempted, based on the cover (an f/x action still from “Return of the Jedi”), to believe that the memoir is about working on the Star Wars films or an insider’s look into Lucasfilm or even a tell-all about working for George Lucas himself. While he does include some of this, the book is not really about It’s hard to get too angry at Bill Kimberlin for his extremely misleading memoir, “Inside the Star Wars Empire”, although I can understand why readers might be. Star Wars fans (like myself) may be tempted, based on the cover (an f/x action still from “Return of the Jedi”), to believe that the memoir is about working on the Star Wars films or an insider’s look into Lucasfilm or even a tell-all about working for George Lucas himself. While he does include some of this, the book is not really about any of that. It is actually not really about anything except Kimberlin’s own random thoughts about living and working in Hollywood and northern California. It is so random as to be unfocused and directionless, just a series of humorous anecdotes and vignettes that don’t really amount to much and aren’t even really that revealing or notable. The only truly forgivable trait that makes this book bearable is Kimberlin’s avuncularity. This book reads like a one-sided conversation of a Hollywood has-been sitting in a coffee shop relating long-winded albeit fascinating (sometimes) stories of when he worked with the special effects team for the first “Star Wars” film back in 1976, or ran the editorial department at Lucasfilm in the early 80s, or when he made a low-budget documentary about drag-racing called “American Nitro” that got decent reviews and today has over a thousand hits on Youtube, or when he discovered that his grandfather was a rumrunner during the Prohibition era. The first couple stories may be pretty interesting. One may even have to get a refill. But after awhile, one may begin to suspect that there’s really not a lot more that Kimberlin can add to his life story that will make one want to sit in that coffee shop for four more hours.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amy Sturgis

    I would give this 3.5 stars if I could. Bill Kimberlin didn't really share any new information about Star Wars that I didn't already know, but it was interesting seeing Lucasfilm and ILM from his perspective. This isn't a history or even a proper autobiography; it's more a series of reminiscences, a recording of memories both personal and professional. What makes the book work is that Kimberlin is a fascinating man with wide-ranging interests in history and culture as well as film. His anecdotes I would give this 3.5 stars if I could. Bill Kimberlin didn't really share any new information about Star Wars that I didn't already know, but it was interesting seeing Lucasfilm and ILM from his perspective. This isn't a history or even a proper autobiography; it's more a series of reminiscences, a recording of memories both personal and professional. What makes the book work is that Kimberlin is a fascinating man with wide-ranging interests in history and culture as well as film. His anecdotes are genuinely entertaining. If you approach this book less like attending an instructive lecture from a specialist and more like grabbing a casual coffee with a friend, you likely won't be disappointed. If you're looking for a perspective that will challenge or change your view of Star Wars, George Lucas, or the film industry as a whole, however, look elsewhere.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dominic

    When I was a kid, I wanted to work at ILM. I loved learning about the magic behind the movies and ILM was THE place for special effects back then. Bill Kimberlin got to live the dream and writes about it in "Inside the Star Wars Empire." Before going any further, it's important to clarify what this book is and is not. The title is a bit misleading. Although Kimberlin worked for ILM, this isn't really about the making of Star Wars or a history of ILM. It's a memoir of one person's time as an empl When I was a kid, I wanted to work at ILM. I loved learning about the magic behind the movies and ILM was THE place for special effects back then. Bill Kimberlin got to live the dream and writes about it in "Inside the Star Wars Empire." Before going any further, it's important to clarify what this book is and is not. The title is a bit misleading. Although Kimberlin worked for ILM, this isn't really about the making of Star Wars or a history of ILM. It's a memoir of one person's time as an employee at the company. Kimberlin worked a bit on the original films and special editions, but most of his work focused on other film projects that had contracted ILM. Kimberlin's memoir is refreshingly blunt and candid about his former company. There's sometimes a tendency to overly glamorize the industry, and ILM in particular, but one really gets the sense that Kimberlin is just telling it like it is. To a large extent, this was a job, just like any other. Kimberlin talks about some of the creative challenges and opportunities he experienced at ILM, but also the petty office politics and management problems. I do wish Kimberlin had spent a bit more time organizing the book. It seems he just collected a number of anecdotes with a loosely chronological organization. The narrative seemed to jump around in time. It was sometimes hard to follow where the it was going. I also wish he'd spent more time actually discussing his work as a film editor for those of us not in the business and not familiar with the equipment he used. Recommended for readers interested in cinema history. (Not quite as recommended if you're just interested in Star Wars.) [Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review]

  5. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    This is an insider's memoir of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light and Magic from the late 1970s onward, probably of far more interest to film industry readers than me. Kimberlin has seen it all, including the many things that worked because of (or in some cases, despite) George Lucas' personal touch. This is an insider's memoir of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light and Magic from the late 1970s onward, probably of far more interest to film industry readers than me. Kimberlin has seen it all, including the many things that worked because of (or in some cases, despite) George Lucas' personal touch.

  6. 5 out of 5

    L.H. Brown

    A nice, personal insight into what it was like working at Lucasfilm. I always find biographies like this interesting. As a child, you wonder what it's like to work for places like this. A nice, personal insight into what it was like working at Lucasfilm. I always find biographies like this interesting. As a child, you wonder what it's like to work for places like this.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Shawn

    I have read many, many books about Star Wars over the years. This is, I believe, one of the first memoirs written by someone who worked in the trenches of George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic, ILM. Kimberlin weaves personal anecdotes from throughout his life in with behind the scenes tales of film making, life on Lucas Ranch, and other sorts of gossip not often found in official Star Wars publications. As an employee of ILM, the author not only took part in crafting that galaxy far, far away ( I have read many, many books about Star Wars over the years. This is, I believe, one of the first memoirs written by someone who worked in the trenches of George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic, ILM. Kimberlin weaves personal anecdotes from throughout his life in with behind the scenes tales of film making, life on Lucas Ranch, and other sorts of gossip not often found in official Star Wars publications. As an employee of ILM, the author not only took part in crafting that galaxy far, far away (including the epic shot from Return of the Jedi seen on the cover) but Kimberlin also worked on Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, Back to the Future, and so many more beloved movies. This is a quick read, easy to digest in short spurts, and bring a real human eye to the sometimes incredible mythology of Lucasfilm, Spielberg, Star Wars, etc. that has been built up over the years.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    Filmmaker and Special Effects Editor Bill Kimberlin, a 20-year employee of LucasFilm and ILM, has written a fascinating memoir about his years working in the editorial department that brought you Star Wars, along with such other notable films as Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Cocoon, Forest Gump, Gangs Of New York, Back to The Future, and the under-appreciated Roger Rabbit.  We learn about his involvement in the very complex art of special effects editing, including a 60+ shot battle sce Filmmaker and Special Effects Editor Bill Kimberlin, a 20-year employee of LucasFilm and ILM, has written a fascinating memoir about his years working in the editorial department that brought you Star Wars, along with such other notable films as Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Cocoon, Forest Gump, Gangs Of New York, Back to The Future, and the under-appreciated Roger Rabbit.  We learn about his involvement in the very complex art of special effects editing, including a 60+ shot battle scene from Star Wars that he engineered with his four-Oscar-winning boss Ken Ralston.  Kimberlin’s hands-on special effects compiling for SB19 shot for Return of the Jedi represents an historical moment in the history of special effects for cinema, and is featured on the front cover.   We also are privileged to spend time with the author as he becomes involved in side ventures, which he has generated to remain positive while clocking the grueling hours that high-end film jobs like LucasFilm seem to require.   One project in particular, his movie entitled American Nitro, not only proved to George Lucas that he should hire Kimberlin, but became economically successful in its own rights (it earned money in the crap-shoot of film distribution…).  We learn that Kimberlin made full use of his talents as a filmmaker, to create that low-budget documentary, because he attended film school.  He used such hands-on abilities as writing, shooting, editing and producing that, as Kimberlin says, some very famous movie directors are incapable of.  This and other ‘Hollywood’ myths are nicely exploded throughout the chapters. Inside The Star Wars Empire really comes in two parts (as the author has carefully explained in his Foreword), one where we are led through the door into a secret inner sanctum of Hollywood-style film work (famous names working on famous movies), and the other being Kimberlin’s search for meaning outside the daily grind.  It’s the side projects that nourish him. And the connections he uncovers to his ancestry also renew him and give him self-knowledge.  Because his parents both died suddenly from different causes, Kimberlin had to become self-sufficient at an early age, and in portions of the book he is in search of answers to the cause-and-effects of that situation.  Few have encountered the personal challenges he’s faced. The author’s intellectual curiosity seems to have ferreted out facts and vignettes from every facet of his activities, and thereby encourage readers to operate in a similar fashion, striving to expand one’s own life experiences through observations and research.  During the time that Kimberlin remained a high-paid employee living with the constant threat of termination (most salaried film workers jobs terminate at the end of each production), he insisted that his life also grant to him some of the glamour and perks of his millionaire (billionaire!) bosses, including rides in personal jets, investing in real estate, having a personal yacht, all the while trying to become economically self-sufficient.  Kimberlin illustrates how he pulled all that off.  While some may prefer being spoon-fed endless Star Wars factoids, I appreciate a book like this, that can help direct me toward a path of “finding my bliss,” as mythologist Joseph Campbell called it.  For those who desire a DIY life (‘do it yourself’), and a peek inside the Star Wars building, this one's for you. 

  9. 5 out of 5

    Online Eccentric Librarian

    More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Kimberlin is a Northern California native with a love of movie making and a career that included indie films and a long-standing editor position at ILM. This memoir is a very personal series of recollections and vignettes of what he saw or experienced while in the movie making industry as well as his own biography. The book is notable for contrasting the 'outsider' feel of being in the greater San Francisco/San Marino More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Kimberlin is a Northern California native with a love of movie making and a career that included indie films and a long-standing editor position at ILM. This memoir is a very personal series of recollections and vignettes of what he saw or experienced while in the movie making industry as well as his own biography. The book is notable for contrasting the 'outsider' feel of being in the greater San Francisco/San Marino areas as opposed to Los Angeles/Hollywood. As well, the very insular life of working for decades at the Skywalker Ranch for ILM is a perspective we have rarely seen. The focus is not on Star Wars but on ILMs work in the movie industry in the 1980s/1990s (Jurassic Park, Cocoon, etc.) Problematic for me is the writing. Though friendly and conversational, it is a hot mess - jumping around willy nilly with no segues and a lot of confusion. Often, the writer would start talking about one thing in the 1970s and then abruptly be in the 1980s on a completely different topic. I'm sure the transitions made sense to him but a lot of them were baffling. And to be honest, for those of us reading, it would have greatly helped put so much into perspective better (especially how special effects changed in the 1980s from analog to digital) had we been given a more chronological presentation. This stream of consciousness randomness can have its own appeal, I know, but by the end of the book, I felt somewhat cheated out of a good story. There was too much to reassemble into cohesion and too many meaningful connections lost. There was absolutely no structure and flow - and that perhaps is the greatest irony considering this was written by an editor. Because Kimberlin is very much about filmmaking before the solid state era, he has some interesting perspectives as digital overtook celluloid. He was there at ILM through the 1980s all the way up until the move to the Presidio. This is definitely a book for cinemaphiles since there is so much about the technical side side of the business. The book feels more like a love letter for cinema romanticists than for those looking for 'juicy gossip' on ILM, Star Wars, and George Lucas. Indeed, despite the title, the book has very little about Star Wars in it, unless you count editing concerns. He was never in contact with the sets or stars, so we only really get perspective on what the second in the trilogy (and the eventual remasters) did for series. And about the preservation of the first film and the troubles they ran into when remastering. Add in a few discussions about how to make the Star Wars vehicles fly realistically. There are some odd notes. E.g., talking about how all the interns were white and he was pushing to get a black intern - and then when he did, talked about how the kid couldn't fit in. And a lot of the book talks about his side projects, from real estate to his indie films to finding his family's rich history. Too much of it did feel like he had a self promotion agenda - almost as if we are watching an infomercial on his side projects to give them visibility in order to 'pay' for the inside information he would present about ILM. One of the most interesting takeaways, especially in light of what is happening in the movie industry with the Weinstein scandals, is the 'bad boys' man-child mentality of the up-and-coming Silicon Valley computer whiz kids. Even ILM had the 'geniuses' who could create magic with computers (read: Jurassic Park dinosaurs) but who also caused headaches and unpleasantness with their demands and antics. Those looking for inside information about Star Wars will be disappointed. This is really about technical editing at ILM in the 1980s, an indie filmmaker, his quest for his roots, and the changing of filmmaking from analog to digital special effects. As well, there are interesting observations about George Lucas and how ILM was run, life on the remote and insular Skywalker Ranch, and the development of Silicon Valley/Northern California into a filmmaking town outside of Hollywood. But be prepared for a choppy, chaotic, and random-feeling read. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pete Labrozzi

    Thank you to NetGalley, Rowman & Littlefield, and Bill Kimberlin for the opportunity to read and review "Inside the Star Wars Empire: A Memoir". I unfortunately had a tough time with this book. Ultimately I haven't finished it, but instead read about two thirds of it before becoming too flummoxed by the many bizarre tangents the stories within would go on. Being that I love Star Wars and am a big fan of ILM, this seemed like a great title to get an insider's view of the work that went into some o Thank you to NetGalley, Rowman & Littlefield, and Bill Kimberlin for the opportunity to read and review "Inside the Star Wars Empire: A Memoir". I unfortunately had a tough time with this book. Ultimately I haven't finished it, but instead read about two thirds of it before becoming too flummoxed by the many bizarre tangents the stories within would go on. Being that I love Star Wars and am a big fan of ILM, this seemed like a great title to get an insider's view of the work that went into some of my favorite movies. At times there's some really unique insights into ILM, George Lucas, the film industry at large, and even the author's own work that is fascinating. But more often than not the author sidetracks his stories to a lot of things that have little or nothing at all to even do with the film industry, or jumps from a really interesting story seemingly before it's finished to tell a different anecdote. The stories that do stay focused and on-topic, sadly often seem to fizzle out before they are fully told or at least left me feeling like there was more to hear but didn't get elaborated on. I also realize this is a review copy before official release, but I've never read a book that felt like it needed an editor's touch as much as this. Unless something is wrong with my copy, stories often flow one from the next, to totally different topics without much in the way of chapters changing or anything that would indicate a particular story had ended and a new one had begun. As an example, one couple page section went from talking about the early days working at ILM into his side interest in acquiring cheap real estate and his missed opportunities therein, into discussing how the computer system Oracle was a large part of ILM's success. None of this with any segue. The other trouble is portions being almost overwritten. At another point in the book he mentions how a screening room was "hot miked so the projectionists could hear instructions from the directors". In the next sentence he stops to explain this already clear idea in essentially the same way, just to expound on the phrase "hot mike". I think the section that ultimately was the nail in the coffin for me was right in the middle of talking about the location for the train scene from Back to the Future III. I love the Back to the Future movies and was excited to be learning a little about how this famous scene was conceived. But right in the middle of talking about the location, the author jumps ship and starts talking about an aunt who lived in the area who raced horses. At the end of this discursion he doesn't return to talking about Back to the Future and instead jumps into a different story altogether about Steve Job's Porsche, foley and ADR. I really wanted to like this book and tried to keep forcing myself ahead several times. While there are some diamonds in the rough that gleam here and there (the effects shot SB19, the section on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and the story of his creating American Nitro in particular stick in my mind) it was just too choppy, and too consistently off the advertised topic to keep going. When you title a book "Inside the Star Wars Empire" you need to dedicate a heck of a lot more time to talking about Star Wars, or at least stick much more to the insider view of ILM. This book would have worked a lot better for me if it was titled "Inside Industrial Light and Magic" and kept just to stories dealing with the many projects worked on during his time there without any of the detours.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    I may be rating this a bit unfairly, but this is not the book that the publisher is selling it to be. Kimberlin worked at Industrial Light & Magic, worked on Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and other big name Hollywood films and there are bits about this in the book but it's in no way a "behind the scenes" of the work done or the process of making the special effects for these movies. This is really just the memoirs of a man who happened to work at ILM. Had Kimberlin been my grandfather or uncle, this I may be rating this a bit unfairly, but this is not the book that the publisher is selling it to be. Kimberlin worked at Industrial Light & Magic, worked on Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and other big name Hollywood films and there are bits about this in the book but it's in no way a "behind the scenes" of the work done or the process of making the special effects for these movies. This is really just the memoirs of a man who happened to work at ILM. Had Kimberlin been my grandfather or uncle, this probably would have been more interesting to me. As someone expecting a window into the early special effects done at ILM, a company that literally changed the way we watch movies, this was a huge let down. There are small tidbits about George Lucas, and chapters with Jurassic Park titles yet they house anecdotes of Kimberlin's life from that time, mentions of random people at ILM or from his side hustle, and other ramblings about how he saw the future coming when no on else did rather than breaking out the work done on such a seminal movie. The book is broken up into chapters that one would think would help mark the passage of time and give a natural way to architect the "story" of the book, but Kimberlin jumps back and forth in time, will provide an anecdote sort of related to the chapter, and then jump back to his here and there/this and that disjointed storytelling method. This lead to repetition of stories and content and a pretty sluggish pacing. I was just really looking for the book that was being promised to me, a memoir about being inside the Star Wars Empire and its related movies by someone who had a hand in it, not a personal memoir of a man's life who happened to work at ILM with the focus on his own personal history. ARC provided by NetGalley

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Received a digital copy via Netgalley. I enjoyed about half of the book before my copy inexplicably stopped working. I tried resetting the reader several times before giving up. If I'm ever able to finish reading this I will give it a more thorough review. Until then, enjoy my half finished, wholly honest and original review. Kimberlin's memoir about his work in the movie industry is exciting for any film buff to read. His casual tone recounts his start with and journey through various roles beh Received a digital copy via Netgalley. I enjoyed about half of the book before my copy inexplicably stopped working. I tried resetting the reader several times before giving up. If I'm ever able to finish reading this I will give it a more thorough review. Until then, enjoy my half finished, wholly honest and original review. Kimberlin's memoir about his work in the movie industry is exciting for any film buff to read. His casual tone recounts his start with and journey through various roles behind the scenes of some of the biggest films. Most notable for this reader, the Star Wars films. As one who grew up watching the original trilogy on VHS BEFORE the '90s re-releases, I could visualize the scenes Kimberlin edited for Lucas. For someone who has no idea what it takes to make a movie, Kimberlin's descriptions helped me realize just how technologically advanced and revolutionary the whole Star Wars movie making process was. Intermittent between tales of Kimberlin's experience with Industrial Light and Magic are personal stories that explain how he became interested in film in the first place. These chapters make Kimberlin more relatable to any aspiring film maker. Kimberlin does not attempt to sugarcoat any part of his experience in the industry. It's clear that he had to work hard and put in the time and effort needed to achieve his goals. Hopefully this review will be continued when I am able to finish the whole book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    If you Google Bill Kimberlin, you will find out that he has credits for special effects for a number of well known movies including Return of the Jedi, Mars Attacks, Back to the Future II & III, among others. You would also find out that he directed/produced/edited/filmed American Nitro, a documentary on drag racing. But that is not all to his life. Inside the Star Wars Empire: A Memoir is a story of Bill Kimberlin's life told in short, wandering, non-sequential chapters. In a major way, the subt If you Google Bill Kimberlin, you will find out that he has credits for special effects for a number of well known movies including Return of the Jedi, Mars Attacks, Back to the Future II & III, among others. You would also find out that he directed/produced/edited/filmed American Nitro, a documentary on drag racing. But that is not all to his life. Inside the Star Wars Empire: A Memoir is a story of Bill Kimberlin's life told in short, wandering, non-sequential chapters. In a major way, the subtitle is the important term in defining the book's purpose since he is telling his story, not a history of Star Wars, or Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). Bill Kimberlin opens with chapters on his first job at ILM, doing the special effects for the space battles on Return of the Jedi, so we learn what life was like working at ILM. But he also intersperses chapters on his life before and outside ILM to the mix. We learn about the movies he made (American Nitro and Jeffries-Johnson 1910), his family background (bootlegging and Pretty Boy Floyd included), and his life ambitions/goals. He is not afraid to name-drop along the way as he tells about various movies he worked on and the effects he helped create. If the reader is wanting the inside scoop on Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic, he may be disappointed, but if he or she is looking for a life story spent in the trenches of film magic, Inside the Star Wars Empire: A Memoir may just be the ticket!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Luke Johnson

    3.5/5 In my early teen years my dream job was to go to work for Industrial Light and Magic making special effects for movies. Being a huge Star Wars played a big role in it but my interest continued into my college years until I became interested in other things. So to read a memoir from a guy who actually worked for ILM on some of my favorite movies? Sign me up! This book is a little bit of movie history, starting from when the author was a young man watching movies with his extended family up t 3.5/5 In my early teen years my dream job was to go to work for Industrial Light and Magic making special effects for movies. Being a huge Star Wars played a big role in it but my interest continued into my college years until I became interested in other things. So to read a memoir from a guy who actually worked for ILM on some of my favorite movies? Sign me up! This book is a little bit of movie history, starting from when the author was a young man watching movies with his extended family up through his 20 years at ILM working on blockbusters put out by George Lucas, Steven Spielburg, and others. Star Wars, Young Sherlock Holmes, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, you name it are in here and there's some discussion of how technology advanced with each film to meet each movies needs. All that part is very enjoyable. But it is a memoir and with Mr Kimberlin's parents dying when he was so young there's a lot of stuff in here that really would only seem of interest to site specific historians or the Kimberlin family. It's still interesting for the most part, but it has nothing to do with Star Wars. And when your book is called "Inside the Star Wars Empire" and you're writing about where Wolfgang Puck buys the wood for his restaurant Spago I hope you can understand my reluctance to give this a higher score.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Denisa Ciubotaru

    -Arch provided by NetGalley- This book is nothing that you might think it is (or even what I thought it might be). This is just an unknown man's biography, but wait for it, it happened that he worked at ILM along George Lucas. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention, he also met some famous people along the way. At first you might expect to actually catch a glimpse of a Star Wars behind the scenes. You might think he's gonna tell you how the effects were made and present interesting details, encounters with -Arch provided by NetGalley- This book is nothing that you might think it is (or even what I thought it might be). This is just an unknown man's biography, but wait for it, it happened that he worked at ILM along George Lucas. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention, he also met some famous people along the way. At first you might expect to actually catch a glimpse of a Star Wars behind the scenes. You might think he's gonna tell you how the effects were made and present interesting details, encounters with the actors, some Carrie Fischer magic but I ended up with nothing. There are some glimpses about Star Wars, Jumanji, Jurassic Park and others but nothing relevant and clearly not enough. I didn't like the fact that he just mentioned some unknown names and talked about subjects that were irrelevant for this book. I couldn't care less. Should I even mention the timeline?! There is no chronological order so you might end up being a little bit confused. I just ended up being slightly frustrated because it was a huge let down. I can just tell you that if you want a legit story about the making of Star Wars, don't read this one.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sherri

    I feel I deserve some kind of reward for finishing this book. The insider details are fascinating but there isn't enough detail or enough of them. Nearly everyone at ILM is talented, smart and competitive. There's some name dropping, a few anecdotes about short encounters with famous people. There's details about the author's family and life. There is some stuff about Star Wars, but most is about the restoration (or abomination, as some fans see it). It is a memoir, but the author divulges littl I feel I deserve some kind of reward for finishing this book. The insider details are fascinating but there isn't enough detail or enough of them. Nearly everyone at ILM is talented, smart and competitive. There's some name dropping, a few anecdotes about short encounters with famous people. There's details about the author's family and life. There is some stuff about Star Wars, but most is about the restoration (or abomination, as some fans see it). It is a memoir, but the author divulges little personal information. He relates his genealogy searches but nearly nothing about siblings, children or pets. He mentions a wife and lady friend but it is unclear if this is the same woman or different women. To be blunt, I really don't care but he seems coy for a memoirist. Most of the work Kimberlin did at ILM was on other movies like Roger Rabbit and Jurassic Park. This is the interesting part, how special effects were created and used, from model making, early CGI and blowing up stuff. If there was more of this it would have been a more entertaining book. I wanted to give it a 2.5, unfortunately that's not an option.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Scott Martin

    A decent read of a memoir of a former department director at LucasFilm Industrial Light and Magic, this work offers an account of life at one of the key organizations in film-making in the past 40 years. Amidst the Hollywood tales of dealing with directors/actors/agents/etc, Kimberlin also uses this work to discuss a little about his life growing up sans parents for much of his childhood, as well as his evolution through the Hollywood system. He offers some history of California throughout this A decent read of a memoir of a former department director at LucasFilm Industrial Light and Magic, this work offers an account of life at one of the key organizations in film-making in the past 40 years. Amidst the Hollywood tales of dealing with directors/actors/agents/etc, Kimberlin also uses this work to discuss a little about his life growing up sans parents for much of his childhood, as well as his evolution through the Hollywood system. He offers some history of California throughout this telling as well. The book jumps around, not really following any sort of logical order, but it can be engaging at times. Also, it is fairly short, so even if there are some things that drag, it doesn't take long. This might have been better if the author could have narrated his own work, but the author was in the technical side, not the acting/voice work. Not a classic or one worth re-reading, but not a bad single read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joe Pinney

    A really interesting and enjoyable read! As a memoir rather than a straight biography or autobiography, this is like being in a room with Bill Kimberlin as he recalls his life. Sometimes the timeline jumps around, but not in a negative way. Film fans in particular should read this for Bill’s inside knowledge about the Star Wars films being restored in the 1990s, including technical details about the original negative that I’ve never seen anywhere else. Kimberlin infuses his memoir with insightfu A really interesting and enjoyable read! As a memoir rather than a straight biography or autobiography, this is like being in a room with Bill Kimberlin as he recalls his life. Sometimes the timeline jumps around, but not in a negative way. Film fans in particular should read this for Bill’s inside knowledge about the Star Wars films being restored in the 1990s, including technical details about the original negative that I’ve never seen anywhere else. Kimberlin infuses his memoir with insightful and sometimes sad details about his family history. This helps to fully humanize him in the midst of all the movie talk. Ultimately he reminds us that the folks who work on our favorite movies are just people like we all are, and in many respects as fascinating as the films we enjoy. Highly recommended! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rob Lucas

    Bill Kimberlin's memoir is well written and can be entertaining, but to call it "Inside the Star Wars Empire" is a tad misleading as the only Star Wars movie he worked on was "Return of the Jedi." There are anecdotes about working on other ILM films, but there are several chapters that are personal stories about his family history that I don't think most readers will find interesting if they are looking for the inside dope on their favorite films or George Lucas himself. On a side note , Kimberli Bill Kimberlin's memoir is well written and can be entertaining, but to call it "Inside the Star Wars Empire" is a tad misleading as the only Star Wars movie he worked on was "Return of the Jedi." There are anecdotes about working on other ILM films, but there are several chapters that are personal stories about his family history that I don't think most readers will find interesting if they are looking for the inside dope on their favorite films or George Lucas himself. On a side note , Kimberlin mentions that his drag race movie, "American Nitro," has 800,000 Facebook followers, which it does, but that's an incredible number for an almost unheard-of film. Just as a comparison, Bong Joon Ho's "Parasite," which is one of the most highly reviewed files of 2019, has only a small fraction of followers. I'm not saying Kimberlin is doing anything nefarious, I just find it a little odd.

  20. 4 out of 5

    J.D. DeHart

    Being a self-confessed cinephile, I found this book interesting in a variety of ways. First were the author’s notes on the construction and purpose of his own filmmaking projects, including American Nitro. Of course, there are layers of experience shared in this book about working for George Lucas, with techniques described and anecdotes aplenty. The author takes us film by film through many of the projects he worked on, commenting on the process, sharing behind-the-scenes insights, and speaking Being a self-confessed cinephile, I found this book interesting in a variety of ways. First were the author’s notes on the construction and purpose of his own filmmaking projects, including American Nitro. Of course, there are layers of experience shared in this book about working for George Lucas, with techniques described and anecdotes aplenty. The author takes us film by film through many of the projects he worked on, commenting on the process, sharing behind-the-scenes insights, and speaking on the cultural impacts of the films. Finally, there is a human voice at the center of this book, sharing personal and sometimes painful life experiences. I appreciated this too. I greatly enjoyed reading this book, and recommend it for others, as well.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shyames || Prosciutto through life

    It's a rare treat to follow some stories from one of the people from the credits at the end of so many movies. You have everything here - a personal story, searching for the family history, the road to the fantastic work at the ILM and Lucasfilm, some stories from the making movies like 'Star Wars', 'Jurassic Park', 'Indiana Jones' etc. It's a little bit of everything. And there is some lesson in there as well. (view spoiler)[ As the author states at the end: "That's the story of one guy from th It's a rare treat to follow some stories from one of the people from the credits at the end of so many movies. You have everything here - a personal story, searching for the family history, the road to the fantastic work at the ILM and Lucasfilm, some stories from the making movies like 'Star Wars', 'Jurassic Park', 'Indiana Jones' etc. It's a little bit of everything. And there is some lesson in there as well. (view spoiler)[ As the author states at the end: "That's the story of one guy from that long list of credits at the end of the movie. It is what happened to a person who was trying to lead a creative life and still make a living. I sometimes wonder if the movie moguls I worked with ever have as much fun as I do. After all, 'how many steaks can you eat?'" (hide spoiler)]

  22. 4 out of 5

    Arkrayder

    I received this book from NetGalley and Lyons Press in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you!🙂 I was a bit disappointed with this book. I’m a fan of ILM and Star Wars and really thought that this would be an insightful look at the workings of the film company and perhaps learn about the work behind Jurassic Park and Back to the Future, but alas. The author mentions these topics but goes off on a tangent into his background and relatives, which is interesting and I don’t have any partic I received this book from NetGalley and Lyons Press in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you!🙂 I was a bit disappointed with this book. I’m a fan of ILM and Star Wars and really thought that this would be an insightful look at the workings of the film company and perhaps learn about the work behind Jurassic Park and Back to the Future, but alas. The author mentions these topics but goes off on a tangent into his background and relatives, which is interesting and I don’t have any particular problem with. But it needs more information on the films the author has worked on. This is the reason a person would buy the book in the first place. Interesting but needs more editing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jason Wrench

    As a life long Star Wars fan, I really wanted to love this book. Unfortunately, I found the book a bit disjointed. At first, I thought there was going to be a clear narrative arc, but the book lost any semblance of that very quickly. Kimberlin started working for Lucas on the final film of the original trilogy, so he does have some interesting anecdotes about Return of the Jedi in addition to a few he passes on from others who worked on the earlier films. Unfortunately, the book just didn’t have As a life long Star Wars fan, I really wanted to love this book. Unfortunately, I found the book a bit disjointed. At first, I thought there was going to be a clear narrative arc, but the book lost any semblance of that very quickly. Kimberlin started working for Lucas on the final film of the original trilogy, so he does have some interesting anecdotes about Return of the Jedi in addition to a few he passes on from others who worked on the earlier films. Unfortunately, the book just didn’t have a clear structure. Instead it’s a mishmash of essays about the film industry, his life, and Star Wars, not not always thrown at you in a meaningful pattern.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sheldon

    Worth reading if only for the tibdits about Lucas such as George turning down Pixar's request to work on an animated movie and sending a lackey back to Pixar to tell them not to bother George about it again. If George building his empire on a gamble on Star Wars was his best decision (it not only changed his lives but the film industry and history) then how he handled Pixar is surely his worst! Some really interesting gems in this (there are stories about George's honey and the appearing/ disapp Worth reading if only for the tibdits about Lucas such as George turning down Pixar's request to work on an animated movie and sending a lackey back to Pixar to tell them not to bother George about it again. If George building his empire on a gamble on Star Wars was his best decision (it not only changed his lives but the film industry and history) then how he handled Pixar is surely his worst! Some really interesting gems in this (there are stories about George's honey and the appearing/ disappearing door anecdote are hilarious). A highly recommended read (or listen; the audiobook is well narrated) if you're interested in going behind the scenes of the film industry or Lucasfilm & ILM.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Raul Fernandez

    A little disjointed but highly readable memoir. The title (and cover) is a little misleading, as this is not a story about the Star Wars Empire, but it is written by someone who was in the trenches for about 30 years at ILM. Lots of great stories here, you really get a fantastic glimpse of what it was like to work for one of the most important motion picture/visual effects companies in the history of cinema. You also learn a great deal about the author, Bill Kimberlin, and American History in ge A little disjointed but highly readable memoir. The title (and cover) is a little misleading, as this is not a story about the Star Wars Empire, but it is written by someone who was in the trenches for about 30 years at ILM. Lots of great stories here, you really get a fantastic glimpse of what it was like to work for one of the most important motion picture/visual effects companies in the history of cinema. You also learn a great deal about the author, Bill Kimberlin, and American History in general. Highly recommended. My rating: 3.8 Stars

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    I was a little disappointed. I was hoping this whole book was on Star Wars. Had person in mind for it, too, as a gift. Still, for readers interested in the movie industry and this authors insider look at many popular films he's been involved with, this will be a terrific book! I received a Kindle copy in exchange for a fair review from Netgalley. I was a little disappointed. I was hoping this whole book was on Star Wars. Had person in mind for it, too, as a gift. Still, for readers interested in the movie industry and this authors insider look at many popular films he's been involved with, this will be a terrific book! I received a Kindle copy in exchange for a fair review from Netgalley.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jose F. Martin del Pozo

    This book is an OK reading. Most of it is entertaining, even if a little chaotic - it's a number of anecdotes from an insider, someone who's worked in the film industry and is not afraid to drop a few names here and there. But the title - oh, the title. Pure click-bait. Yes, Mr Kimberlin worked for ILM, he worked in several Star Wars projects. But the book is NOT about Star Wars. This book is an OK reading. Most of it is entertaining, even if a little chaotic - it's a number of anecdotes from an insider, someone who's worked in the film industry and is not afraid to drop a few names here and there. But the title - oh, the title. Pure click-bait. Yes, Mr Kimberlin worked for ILM, he worked in several Star Wars projects. But the book is NOT about Star Wars.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Barbara White

    I breezed through Inside the Star Wars Empire: A Memoir. It was so entertaining and gave an insiders perspective I could never have, but so appreciated. I loved it and highly recommend this book. Thanks to Goodreads First Reads for my copy.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shane Phillips

    A few movie tidbits but nothing that interesting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rob Bonstin

    Such a great view inside working at ILM and the folks who work there. Also really enjoyed learning about Bill’s and his family’s journey. And now I need to watch American Nitro!!

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