Skip to main content

Tim Lawrence Papers

Identifier: MSS 0570

Scope and Content

The Tim Lawrence Papers contain Project files, photographs, artwork, A/V, movie and television props, and other files documenting the life and career of makeup and special effects artist, puppeteer, and actor Tim Lawrence. The collection dates from 1970 to 2020. It is arranged into six series groupings:

Series 1: “Project files, 1972-2017” contains a near complete record of professional projects worked on by Tim Lawrence, beginning with his High School group Imagimation Productions, continuing on to his career in Hollywood, and his later projects after retirement and returning to Jacksonville, Florida in the later half of the 2000s. The project files contain a variety of materials including photographs, artwork, notes, contracts, memorandums, shooting schedules, budgets, scripts, correspondence, and other files documenting Lawrence’s professional career. The files are roughly arranged chronologically and by production company/production. Key projects represented include Michael Jackson’s THRILLER, GHOSTBUSTERS 1 and 2, HOWARD THE DUCK, BETTLEJUICE, HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS, CADDYSHACK 2, GREMLINS 2, JURASSIC PARK, and the SHREK franchise. Also, of special interest are memoranda from Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and DreamWorks, recordings Tim Lawrence did with Tim Curry for an unproduced project, and Lawrence’s work creating Conservation Arts at the Jacksonville Zoo. See also “Series 2” for Lawrence’s complete resume that describes his work on many of these projects in more detail.

Series 2: “Personal files, 1970-2020” contains a variety of materials including Tim’s artwork and sketchbooks, biographical information, newspaper and magazine articles about Tim, scrapbooks, convention appearances and material, classes and lectures given by Tim Lawrence, and personal memorabilia. Also, of particular interest are Tim’s Screen Actors Guild (SAG) files that cover his proposal regarding the treatment of puppeteers and interviews/lectures that Tim gave that provide a good overview of how Tim viewed his career. Tim’s resume also helps to give context for the project files found in “Series 1.” The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series 3: “Technical files and notes, 1969-1997” primarily contains reference files and notes collected and produced by Tim Lawrence about different processes used in his industry. Additionally, the series contains his work notebooks and sketchbooks covering various projects from 1983 to 1996, most notable being GHOSTBUSTERS 2, GREMLINS 2, SHREK, and HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series 4: “Associate files, 1978-2015” contains an alphabetical subject file of various people Lawrence worked with throughout his career. The files primarily contain photographs, but also include other files related to the person in question. The dates on most of these files are estimates, with most seeming to be from the 1980s. Some of the associates also have digital files with primarily photographs, but some also include audio interview recordings.

Series 5: “Audio and video, 1981-1995” contains VHS, U-matic, DVD and other video formats related to projects Tim Lawrence worked on, including demo tapes and rehearsal videos. Of particular interest are the GREMLINS II puppet rehearsal videos.

Series 6: “Props and art, 1970-1999” contains artwork and props from Tim’s many Hollywood projects. In many cases, digital photographs also accompany the physical items. This series is arranged chronologically.


  • 1974 - 2019



The collection is open for research.

NOTE: Some materials in this collection are only available digitally. Please consult with the archivist to access these materials.

Biographical/Historical Note

Timothy Lee Lawrence was born on November 23, 1958 in Jacksonville, Florida. In High School he was one of the founding members of Imagimation Productions, a creature fabrication, animation, and special effects group in Jacksonville. The group regularly held shows at the Planetarium and other venues around the city and utilized rubber monsters, suits, puppets, makeup, and stop motion. After High School, Lawrence worked for Sally Unlimited, Inc. as an Art Director for audio-animated characters in Jacksonville.

In 1982 he relocated to Southern California, working for the Animated Playhouses Corporation and A.V.G. Productions Inc. (The Alvaro Villa Group). His first Hollywood feature was Jaws-3D where he worked on creating puppets. But Tim’s biggest breakthrough came from his work on the Michael Jackson music video, THRILLER, where he was hired as a special make-up effects assistant by famed special make-up effects creator, Rick Baker. As part of the production, Lawrence also created and performed as one of the zombies in the video. Lawrence had originally met Baker in 1976 at a convention in Texas. Lawrence would continue to work in Hollywood on special makeup effects and special visual effects all through the 1980s and into the 1990s, mostly working on productions between Rick Baker’s shop, Lucasfilm’s ILM (Industrial Light and Magic), and his partnership with Ted Rae (Little Buddy Productions). During this time he worked on numerous projects including GHOSTBUSTER’S 1 and 2, HOWARD THE DUCK, BEETLEJUICE, HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS, and GREMLINS II. He primarily considered himself a “special character effects artist” and worked mostly with puppets and suits.

After working on GREMLINS II, Lawrence became interested in computer animated features, starting with JURASSIC PARK and wrapping up with the SHREK movies. For these he primarily worked in studio Story Departments, developing characters in clay sculptures for Amblin, Disney, DreamWorks, Vanguard, and others.

In 1995, Lawrence was hired to work on an early motion-captured computer graphics project called AMERICAN VOYEUR for HBO. Although HBO passed on the project, a video of the project was sent to co-founder of DreamWorks, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Lawrence was hired to start work on SHREK, which began in Lawrence’s garage studio. SHREK underwent numerous changes in development including a major shift in animation style. After SHREK, Lawrence continued to work as a sculptor on HOPPER and THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET. Both projects ended up halting production and were never produced. He was then hired on to work as a sculptor for the other two SHREK movies.

In 2003, Tim left California and returned to Jacksonville, Florida to care for his ailing parents. His last feature film work was on Mel Gibson’s APOCALYPTO in 2006. After his retirement, Lawrence began volunteering at the Jacksonville Zoo, where he founded the Conservation Arts Program, which was a process of working with live zoo animals to create bronze models for public encounters. The goal being to improve the “zoo experience” for all with a special emphasis on the blind and visually impaired. Tim also spoke at classes and lectures about his career in Hollywood.

Tim passed away on December 26, 2019.


40 Linear Feet (25 Boxes and 18 Oversize Items )

17.6 Gigabytes

Language of Materials



Project files, photographs, artwork, A/V, movie and television props, and other files documenting the life and career of makeup and special effects artist, puppeteer, and actor Tim Lawrence. Tim Lawrence, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, had an extensive career in Hollywood working on numerous projects including Michael Jackson’s THRILLER, BEETLEJUICE, GHOSTBUSTERS 1 and 2, GREMLINS 2, HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS, HOWARD THE DUCK, JURASSIC PARK, and more.


Please note that this collection is housed in the Auxiliary Library Facility off campus and will require advance notice for timely retrieval. Please contact the Special and Area Studies Collections department prior to your visit.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Catherine Carey in 2020 and 2021 with the blessing of the Lawrence Family.

Processing Notes

Special thanks to Jane Anne Carey for her work in sorting the collection and compiling the bulk of the existing inventory, and Karl Boecklen for inventory photography.

A Guide to the Tim Lawrence Papers
Finding aid created by Matt Kruse
November 2021
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America