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Rick Carter collection

Identifier: 2289

Scope and Content

This collection contains the papers created and maintained by Rick Carter while working as a production designer on a variety of films and one television show, including Back to the Future II and III, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, War of the Worlds, Munich, Polar Express, and Forrest Gump. These papers include storyboards, photographs, negatives, set designs and plans, production notes and memoranda, scripts, film treatments, artwork and concept art. Also included in this collection are records that document that early production stages of works that were never actually produced, including Bad Trout, InterfaceHelen of Troy: EXO, and The Diamond as Big as the Ritz. Also included in this collection are DVDs, VHS and laserdisc recordings of completed film.

Please see the scope and content notes for individual series for more information.


  • 1976 - 2019


Conditions Governing Access

Advance notice required for access.

Biographical Note

Rick Carter was born in California on March 24, 1950. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1974 with a degree in sociology and art. His career started in mid-1970s, when he worked as an art director or illustrator on various feature films and TV mini-series, including Bound For Glory, The Postman Always Rings Twice and The Winds of War. In 1982, he was the Production Designer for Disney's 3D film Magic Journeys, which played at Walt Disney World in Florida until 1993 and at Disneyland until 1986. Carter first worked with Steven Spielberg when he served as the Art Director for the movie The Goonies, which was written by Spielberg, in 1984. The next year, Spielberg hired Carter to be the Production Designer for his TV series Amazing Stories, which is the only TV series Carter has ever worked on.

While working on Amazing Stories, Carter worked for the first time with Robert Zemeckis, who directed two of the series' episodes. For the next twenty-five years, Carter worked almost exclusively on movies being directed by either Spielberg or Zemeckis. These movies included Back to the Future II and III, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, War of the Worlds, Munich and Forrest Gump. Carter was nominated for the Best Art Direction-Set Direction Academy Award in 1995 for his work on Forrest Gump. In 2010, Carter won the Academy Award for Best Achievement in Art Direction for his work for James Cameron on Avatar.


400 Linear Feet (350 boxes)

Language of Materials



Collection contains the papers of production designer Rick Carter (b. 1952), who frequently works with directors Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg. Movies represented in this collection include Jurassic Park and Forrest Gump.


The Rick Carter Collection is organized into 26 series, most of which have been further organized into subseries. Each series that consists solely of papers from an individual movie (Series 1-26) has been organized into the following subseries (depending on what papers are present in the series): Production Files, Scripts, Research Files, Location Files, Set & Prop Design, Character (or Creature) Design, Storyboards, Press & Publicity, Merchandise & Memorabilia, Negatives, Photographs, Digital Media, Analog Media, Oversized Art. The series Miscellaneous Projects and Unproduced Projects are organized into subseries based on movie or project. Oversized materials are organized in boxes by size; it is assumed that a researcher will be able to tell the difference between the various films within a box. However, to avoid confusion, artwork and plans from Jurassic Park and The Lost World are not found in the same box without identification. Photographs and the negatives from which they were produced have been assigned reel numbers in the absence of other identifying information (indicated by square brackets).

The arrangement scheme for the collection refined the original order of the collection (which was based loosely on movie).

1. Magic Journeys

2. The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension

3. Goonies

4. Amazing Stories

5. Talking Walls

6. Empire of the Sun

7. Rain Man

8. Three Fugitives

9. Back to the Future II

10. Back to the Future III

11. Death Becomes Her

12. What Lies Beneath

13. Jurassic Park

14. Forrest Gump

15. The Lost World: Jurassic Park

16. Contact

17. Amistad

18. Cast Away

19. Artificial Intelligence: A.I.

20. Polar Express

21. War of the Worlds

22. Munich

23. Miscellaneous Projects

24. Unproduced Projects

25. Personal Papers

26. Dreamworks SKG

Finding Aid of the Rick Carter collection
Minimally Processed
Rebecca Hirsch and Boriana Boyanova
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
The processing of this collection and the creation of this finding aid was funded by the generous support of the National Historic Publications and Records Commission.

Revision Statements

  • 2022 December: Finding aid updated by Marissa Chavez for History Associates Incorporated.

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries Cinematic Arts Library Repository

Doheny Memorial Library G4
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0185 United States