But then Tony Hudson called. It had been five years since they had built the stop motion 'Star Wars' set, Tony had landed in ILM’s creature shop, and he was fulfilling his part of their high school pledge. Goodson flew across the country to visit him. “He let me sleep on his couch for six weeks and hang out while they were working on 'Star Trek IV,'" he says. “Greg Jein was there working on ‘Batteries Not Included'.”
Goodson, of course, told Jein he wanted to work in the model shop and Jein, of course, told him to finish school first. So Goodson went back, but for his independent study project, he mimicked the work of ILM modelers building the 'Enterprise' for the 'Star Trek Next Generation' pilot. “I was talking to Tony about once a week, finding out how they were building it,” Goodson says. “I was trying to do the same thing on the East Coast, not building the same ship, but using the same techniques and processes.”
In 1988, after Goodson finished college, he flew to San Francisco and met with Larry Tan at ILM. Tan said maybe he’d have a job, and that slight encouragement was enough. Goodson and his wife moved to California a month later. “My wife knew what I wanted to do from the first night she met me,” he says. Six days after they arrived, the model shop called and asked if he could come in for a week. He’s been at ILM since, except for a short stint at ImageMovers Digital. His wife, though, gave up.
“We were incredibly busy,” Goodson says. “My first feature was ‘Ghostbusters,’ and we had minimum 10 hour days at the time. The clock had a sticker on it with an arrow that pointed to 7:00. The top half of the arrow said, ‘go to work,’ and the bottom said, ‘go home.’”
Goodson remembers seeing his first digital composite in 1991, for 'Back to the Future, Part II,' but he stayed with the practical model shop until six years ago, working on more than 30 films as a modeler, painter and concept artist.
Six years ago, though, he was working in the art department at George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch building concept models for 'Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith'. “We’d take the sketches George approved and build, basically, a three-dimensional blueprint. I remember building a two-foot or so study model for the Republic Cruiser, which is the big star-destroyer ship at the beginning of 'Episode III', and then the next thing I knew I was painting a digital model of the Republic Cruiser in the computer.”