“The Man Who Shot Luke Skywalker” aka Kim David McNeill Simmons started like most everyone else.
After finishing graduate school with an MA in addition to his BFA he headed for Cincinnati, Ohio, looking for a job as a photographer. Armed with the information that a photographer Roy Frankenfield was in serious need of help, he applied for a job and was hired. Very quickly he found out he was working for the man who had been shooting Star Wars toys from the very beginning.
Very quickly, Kim became the main photographer and was photographing Star Wars toys almost everyday. As he took over the business of shooting, Roy became more engrossed in running the business end. It was during this time when Kim was searching for additional equipment that he discovered two very large trashcans of negatives and transparencies in the storage basement. That find was the “only” reason the early film was saved from the beginning of the Star Wars packaging era.
Kim eventually bought the studio and Roy Frankenfield retired. One of the conditions to the purchase was that he was also purchasing the rights to all of the negatives and transparencies as part of the studio inventory. Kim saw the possible value in owning the film if for no other reason then for collecting. People even now believe Kim was the only Star Wars photographer, but he has always pointed out that Roy was the first Star Wars photographer of the earlier Star Wars packaging.
Soon Kim began working directly with Kenner aka Hasbro and continued in that capacity until Hasbro left Cincinnati in 2000. But it was in 1997 when a writer for Star Wars Galaxy magazine called and requested to interview Kim that Kim became known.
It was the writer of the article who gave Kim the title “The Man Who Shot Luke Skywalker”. A few issues later, Kim offered to create a front cover image, which consisted of Darth Vader un-masked with his helmet in his arms and the Death Star behind him.
Today, Kim is retired. He now spends his time creating space scenes using the vehicles from his earlier photography combined with Hubble Telescope images (with NASA’s permission). For all you star wars collectors and enthusiasts alike, he has kept nearly all of his photographic work in digital form having digitized the early films and transparencies. A few years ago when more then a few collectors started contacting him “The Man Who Shot Luke Skywalker” began offering prints from those files. Now anyone can own a piece of history by purchasing prints and even the film (as a collector’s item, not for reproduction).