Before George Lucas’ 1971 dystopian classic THX 1138 hit theaters — about a future in which an android police force controls the populace and mandatory drugs quell emotions and personal desires — there was Lucas’ student film the story was based on.

Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB was created in 1967 while the director was still wet behind the ears, attending the University of Southern California’s film school. Running 15 minutes long, Lucas cast his student short with members of the real-life Navy — as several military members were also attending USC for their studies. Most of the filming took place at night in locations the Navy granted him special access to.

After 12 weeks of shooting in the USC computer center, a parking lot at UCLA, the Los Angeles International Airport and the Van Nuys Airport, Lucas screened his movie to an audience at the third National Student Film Festival held at the Lincoln Center, New York. Future friend and collaborator Steven Spielberg happened to be in attendance. The movie won first prize in the Dramatic Films category. See the short that inspired a reworking by one of cinema’s most meticulous directors, below.

[Spotted via Open Culture]


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