About Graham Edwards

I'm senior staff writer at Cinefex magazine. I also write novels. In a former life, I produced animated films for theme park rides and science centres. If you offer me a cold beer, I won't say no.

Spotlight – Anthony Smith

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.

Anthony Smith works as head of 2D and visual effects supervisor at Rising Sun Pictures. His feature film experience runs the gamut from spy thrillers to outer space epics, with highlights including Gravity, Thor: Ragnarok, Alien: Covenant, Logan, Paddington, Iron Man 3 and Quantum of Solace.

Anthony Smith

CINEFEX: Anthony, how did you get started in the business?

ANTHONY SMITH: Growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s meant the worlds of movies like the ‘Indiana Jones’ films, Back to the Future, Alien, Ghostbusters and Jurassic Park had me glued to the screen. I discovered Photoshop in the late ‘90s while studying at Central St. Martins College of Art in London and it was a revelation to me. This turned to the realization that visual effects was an actual job that wasn’t done only by a bunch of guys in their 50s in the U.S.! The visual effects breakdown on the DVD of Contact was watched many times.

A degree in Computer Arts turned into a job as a runner at a small London facility doing broadcast visual effects where I learnt to comp with Shake. My big break was a compositing role at Framestore on one of the Harry Potter movies. I spent an amazing 11 years there, working with some wonderful supervisors, artists and producers, riding the wave of the London visual effects boom and progressing through compositing supervision to visual effects supervision before moving to Australia with my family.

I never did work on that Harry Potter in the end, nor did I get to work on any of the others during my time at Framestore. So, before I left, I made sure I got a Potter-world wand effect in by assigning myself one on the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trailer. A big visual effects bucket list item done for me after all those years Potter-free!

CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?

ANTHONY SMITH: By far the best aspect is sitting in a theatre with my family to watch a movie that I’ve contributed to. The magic of movies is so clearly visible in the very human reactions we have to the emotional journeys that we get taken on as viewers, and nowhere is this more obvious to me than when I watch my kids watching movies. To know I’ve helped contribute to their reaction is priceless.

CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?

ANTHONY SMITH: That ‘See it in 3D’ is still a tagline at the end of trailers.

CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?

ANTHONY SMITH: The pressure of operating the real-time compositing software that provided the imagery for the lightbox for the first time during the shoot for Gravity. Emmanuel Lubezki, one of the most celebrated DOPs of all time, was the voice talking to me through my headset, directing me in animating the sun and earth to light Sandra Bullock’s face while she was strapped into the rig inside the box, and all the while Alfonso Cuarón and the entire crew were watching and waiting. Making a mistake was not an option!

While at Framestore, Anthony Smith worked as compositing supervisor on "Gravity." Photograph copyright 2013 by Warner Bros. Entertainment.

While at Framestore, Anthony Smith worked as compositing supervisor on “Gravity.” Photograph copyright 2013 by Warner Bros. Entertainment.

CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?

ANTHONY SMITH: While on an aerial element shoot in Slovenia for Narnia: Prince Caspian, flying by helicopter through the mountains to find river water elements for the River God sequence, I realized that one of the most impressive elements was when the downwash of the rotor created some cool textures along the river surface between some canoeists who were on the river. After innocently mentioning it to the camera operator – who was a local – he had a word to the pilot. Clearly wanting to get the job done so he could head to the pub, the pilot proceeded to descend quickly to about 10 meters above the canoeists’ heads, giving them what was probably the shock of their lives and ruining their serene day out on the river. Apologies to the canoeists if they ever read this, but the elements were perfect!

CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?

ANTHONY SMITH: The globalization of the industry and the increase in creative quality in regions such as India and China. The increase in quality of student work – watching the student shortlist for the VES awards each year is incredible. The sad fact that movie attendance is falling, and the exciting fact that on demand services are growing. That’s something facilities need to be prepared for, with the increase in lower-than-tentpole-movie visual effects budgets but quality expectations that are as good, combined with timeframes that are more challenging.

CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?

ANTHONY SMITH: An industry where the visual effects facilities and artists have a level of respect given to them by studios that’s appropriate, given the contribution they make to the industry.

CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

ANTHONY SMITH: Be passionate and dedicated. Take criticism constructively. Don’t stop learning. Don’t stop seeing the world around you, and don’t stop being curious about why it looks the way it does – understanding that as much as you can makes pathways to re-creating it much more obvious.

CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?

ANTHONY SMITH: Contact – because the DVD breakdowns and explanations were one of the reasons I wanted to comp. The standout shot for me is the shot where Ellie runs to get her father’s pills from the bathroom cabinet. Superbly shot and delicately comped.

Gravity – because I have such good memories from the show, from the pre-shoot, to being on set, to supervising a great compositing team and working with a fantastic supervisor in Tim Webber. And it still looks great today. The standout shot for me was the airlock shot, which I helped light with the LED panels and then comped in post. A double page spread in Cinefex was the icing on the cake!

Jurassic Park – because when I saw it for the first time I was 13, and I remember not knowing how it was done, but wanting to know so much. It became one of the seeds of inspiration for my career. The standout sequence for me is the T-rex chase and car attack. Such a great blend of practical and digital effects. It’s forever burned into my memory.

CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

ANTHONY SMITH: None. I like to eat – and drink – afterwards with friends instead and talk about what we’ve watched.

CINEFEX: Thanks for your time, Anthony!

Spotlight – Charmaine Chan

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.

Charmaine Chan works as a compositor and area technical lead at Industrial Light & Magic. Her feature film career highlights include Black Panther, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Pacific Rim. Charmaine is also the founder of Women in Visual Effects, an online project highlighting and advocating women who work within the visual effects industry.

Charmaine Chan

CINEFEX: How did you get started in the business, Charmaine?

CHARMAINE CHAN: I have always had a passion for both art and technology. I was an art major in University, but had a knack for programming and scripting on the side. I wanted to get into a field that combined both of my passions, and visual effects was just that. While I was at University, I worked part time at Deluxe doing motion graphics for DVD and Blu-ray menus – that was kind of my first taste of what it was like in Hollywood. Once I graduated, I mass applied to every television- and film-based company there was in California. My big break was an entry level position at ILM as a digital resource assistant.

CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?

CHARMAINE CHAN: Our industry is global, so a lot of my co-workers are from many different parts of the world. When you bring together such a diverse group of people, that’s when you find unique and new perspectives on where we can take visual effects. Seeing all these people of different backgrounds working together to produce such stunning imagery every single time is what makes me most excited for our field.

CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?

CHARMAINE CHAN: I think one of the biggest issues with visual effects is that the industry has become very dehumanized. We’ve somehow become just machines that push buttons to produce imagery. But we’re not – we are talented and passionate individuals who love what we do, and our industry needs to reflect that. We need better work-life balance, better hours, better support of families, and overall care of every individual who puts all their heart and creativity into those images.

CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?

CHARMAINE CHAN: On Transformers: Age of Extinction, I was faced with setting up a whole new pipeline for stereo compositing. It was the first large show that was shot natively with stereo cameras, and trying to configure that while working on shots proved to be a difficult endeavor of time management and multitasking. It was pretty brutal with the overall show schedule, trying to get everything done at once, but our shots and images were fun and exciting and the final results made all the work worth it.

CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?

CHARMAINE CHAN: I think one of my weirder tasks was to hide the apple box that Tom Cruise was standing on in Mission: Impossible to make him look taller. Movie magic, right?

CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?

CHARMAINE CHAN: There’s been a nice influx of women coming into our industry, whether that be entry-level positions or other artistry roles. I think there’s a need for a higher inclusion of diversity overall, but the more we educate younger diverse generations about our industry, and teach them that they can thrive in such environments, the better we can make the future of our industry.

CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?

CHARMAINE CHAN: I personally would love to see the inclusion of more women, people of color, or LGBTQ+ individuals in supervisor and leadership roles. Only through diversity do we get new perspectives and ideas we’ve never thought of before. A homogenous environment doesn’t breed innovation – a diverse one does.

CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

CHARMAINE CHAN: If you have the love and passion for film, television or any medium for visual storytelling, this is the industry for you. It is filled with so many brilliant and creative minds that you can’t help but absorb all that knowledge and want to create more from that. But it’s a tough industry – there are long hours and grueling requests. People right now are trying to make those standards better, but it’ll take a while. Until then you will need work and learn as hard as you can!

CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?

CHARMAINE CHAN: 2001: A Space Odyssey – Kubrick used visual effects in a way never done before. While no computer or digital imagery was really used, his ways of manipulating the sets, cameras, and compositing made such impactful images and scenes that constantly stick in my mind – specifically the jogging in the rotating room, and walking down the hallway in the spacesuit scene.

Blade Runner – because of the amazing cinematography. The lighting and color palette is such a great nod to film noir. The scenes that stand in my mind are the wide establishing shots, like the opening shot flying past this dystopic, run-down version of L.A. Then the city night shot with the geisha billboard on the building.

Jurassic Park – this was the film that inspired me as a kid to want to work in the visual field. The dinosaurs felt real to me, and the visual effects still hold up to this day. My favorite scene, of course, is when they’re first welcomed to Jurassic Park and you see that wide shot of all the dinos.

CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

CHARMAINE CHAN: Sour Patch Kids! I know this is totally weird, but I feel like the movie experience isn’t complete until the roof of my mouth is completely shredded by all the sour crystals from the candy.

CINEFEX: Charmaine, thanks for your time!

Spotlight – Kenneth Calhoun

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.

Kenneth Calhoun is a special effects makeup artist and technician at Legacy Effects, with a portfolio of work on films including The Shape of Water, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Captain America: Civil War, Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys.

Kenneth Calhoun

CINEFEX: How did you get started in the business, Kenneth?

KENNETH CALHOUN: When I was a kid, my mom was into horror movies. Every other weekend we would go to the video store and she would buy me a horror movie from her childhood, usually something with a creature. I watched a lot of Ray Harryhausen and giant monster B-movies, and from as far back as I can remember I was always obsessed with dinosaurs, monsters and creatures.

That obsession followed throughout my childhood. I was always drawing vampires, ghosts and creatures in my notebooks. When I was 14, my family took a trip to California and we went to Universal Studios. At the time they had a show called ‘Creature Factory’ all about the special effects in their movies. That was the lightbulb – I realized that Universal had been the ones working on a lot of those movies I had seen as a kid. I also realized that making monsters was a career option and quickly became more familiar with the men and women who had worked on these films.

After that trip, I started playing with latex and cotton and anything I could find around the house. I loved makeup and special effects, and would watch anything I could to find out more about how everything was done. I wasn’t really sure about how to get into the effects industry – being in Seattle, all I knew was eventually I would need to move to Hollywood. I stayed in school and went to college for business, saving up for my move to California. In 2011, I entered a local makeup competition at a convention called ‘Crypticon Seattle.’ During the competition, while I was working on the makeup, I ended up getting three job offers to do makeup from convention attendees. I won the competition, which gave me an opportunity to intern with a local makeup artist Doug Hudson.

Makeup artist Kenneth Calhoun competes in the 'Crypticon Seattle' makeup competition in 2011.

Makeup artist Kenneth Calhoun competes in the ‘Crypticon Seattle’ makeup competition in 2011.

I worked on a lot of short films and low budget movies in Seattle before finally being able to move to L.A. Shortly after my move, I met up with an artist named Christina Kortum, who recommended me to Brian Sipe. Brian gave me my first big break. I was running prosthetic transfers for his ‘Got Flesh!?!’ line while he was working at Legacy Effects. At the time, Brian was leading Terminator Genisys and he thought I would be a great choice to help run the transfers for the film. I was hired at Legacy and that was where everything gained momentum.

Since starting at Legacy I have worked on commercials, television and movies. I’ve gotten the opportunity to go to set and apply makeups, paint, do hair, sculpt, mold and run appliances of many different types. I was fortunate to lead a department for the character Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. I’m very appreciative of all of the opportunities I have gotten so far, and I continue to strive to be a better artist and look forward to where my skills, hard work and dedication will take me.

CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?

KENNETH CALHOUN: Working on movie franchises and licenses that I am a fan of! Working on Jurassic World was a big deal for me, because Jurassic Park was one of my favorite movies as a kid. Seeing my name in the Terminator Genisys credits, and knowing I got to help work on Spiderman for Captain America: Civil War, mean so much to me because these franchises are part of who I am and what shaped my interests.

Another thing is getting to meet and work with the artists who worked on those early films. Some of those artists who were huge influences on me are now some of my closest friends and mentors. I never imagined the men and women that used to inspire me as a young artist in Seattle would be hanging out with me! I really can’t help but smile.

CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?

KENNETH CALHOUN: SLC Punk! and The Iron Giant. Though in all honesty it doesn’t take much for me to cry in a movie.

CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?

Kenneth sculpting Drax replica scars for Got Flesh!?! Prosthetics in 2017

Kenneth sculpting Drax replica scars for Got Flesh!?! Prosthetics in 2017.

KENNETH CALHOUN: Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, no question. I was asked to figure out how to turn the original silicone pieces into transfers while also resculpting the designs a bit. The lead artist was out of town, so I was basically on my own to figure out how to redesign this makeup. This was the first big character I was involved with so I was nervous as can be, and being a fan of the first movie and David White’s work doubled that feeling. After some trial and error the sculptures were finished, but then the second hard part began – running my first department. I was 24 and had never led a department, much less for a blockbuster movie. I am so grateful for all the responsibility I was given because I gained a lot of confidence during that movie. My department ran smoothly and my team was great – we all worked so hard. I really didn’t know what my true potential was until I had to figure out so much for such a complicated character.

CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?

KENNETH CALHOUN: Making female genitalia for The Human Centipede 3. They had to be edible, but we some had issues with the molds so I had to make them by hand because it was faster. It was a really fun experience getting the chance to work on the movie, but it was definitely the strangest first day on the job I’ve had!

CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?

KENNETH CALHOUN: While I haven’t been in the industry that long, I have loved the resurgence of audiences being aware and appreciative of practical effects. When I started, most movies were moving towards digital effects, and I would constantly see articles and discussions over whether or not practical effects were dead. With movies like the recent ‘Star Wars’ films, Wonder, and television shows like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story openly talking abut their use of practical makeup, there has been such an impact on the demand for makeup artists in our industry. I can recall low-budget movies deciding to go digital with all of their effects – even basic cuts and scrapes – and now I see low budget movies wanting puppets and in-camera effects. I really have hope that since many movies are using a balance of digital and practical we will see this wonderful harmony continue.

CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?

KENNETH CALHOUN: I would love to see more monsters and creatures. As an artist, I like seeing beautifully executed old-age and character makeups, but in my heart I always have a soft spot for monster movies. I’m hoping The Shape of Water helps kick off the monster/creature genre again because as a fan I was so happy to see a practical man-in-a-suit creature utilizing modern technology and digital capabilities. Having an underwater-capable suit using silicones – but also having digital augmentation and an amazing suit actor – really created a beautiful and stunning creature performance that was so refreshing to see after the long span of digital creatures that have starred in movies.

Kenneth Calhoun (left) assists special effects makeup artist Pepe Mora on a ‘Jam City’ Halloween commercial in 2017.

Kenneth Calhoun (left) assists special effects makeup artist Pepe Mora on a ‘Jam City’ Halloween commercial in 2017.

CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

KENNETH CALHOUN: Know your history and practice constantly. Know who John Chambers and William Tuttle are. You always have to look back and respect the greats and at the same time continue to practice and push the limits of what you can do. Make something innovative. Make an improved old-age makeup. Don’t just copy tutorials – learn from them and then change them and make something new. This is a very demanding business and you constantly have to be creating something audiences haven’t seen before. Utilize new methods and technologies, and develop more new ones because our industry will keep moving whether or not you keep up with it.

CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?

KENNETH CALHOUN: Return of the Living Dead – if you want to know what I’m all about, watch that movie. Punk rock fashion, 80’s makeup effects, killer soundtrack. Can’t get any cooler than that! Tarman is one of my all time favorite effects, and the skeletal zombie design is amazing! The first time you see tarman in the basement is incredible. I actually made this movie required viewing for everyone on my Drax transfer team.

Creature from the Black Lagoon is one of my favorite movies. Milicent Patrick’s design was so ahead of its time and the beautiful sculpture done by Chris Mueller is perfection, in my opinion. I think that it is the greatest monster/creature of all time and can’t be topped.

Demon Knight would be the final pick. Todd Masters’ work is incredible in that movie. I love the demons, all punked out with dreadlocks and piercings. My favorite scene is when Billy Zane says, “The property is hereby condemned!” He cuts his hand and drips blood into the ground, then the demons begin to grow where the blood had fallen and they’re covered ultraslime. Amazing creature design, and such a fun scene.

CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

KENNETH CALHOUN: I’ve never really been into eating popcorn at the theatre, but my girlfriend and I have really been enjoying big soft pretzels. So, a soft pretzel and a soda.

CINEFEX: Kenneth, thanks for your time!


Spotlight – Andrea Lackey Pace

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.

Andrea Lackey Pace is executive director of editorial, production services and resources at Sony Pictures Imageworks. Andrea has contributed to numerous features – her favorites include Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Spider-Man 2, Big Fish, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Matrix Reloaded.

Andrea Lackey PaceCINEFEX: How did you get started in the business, Andrea?

ANDREA LACKEY PACE: As a kid, I was fully in love with animated movies, and luckily had a computer programming course in BASIC way back in high school. This was right around the dawn of the birth of computer graphics and I vowed to somehow combine my love for movies with my new computer programming skill. Then I went to my first SIGGRAPH where I saw Pixar’s Luxo Jr., and I knew right away that I had to be a part of this budding industry. So I packed my bags and moved to California to finish school and get my degree in computer science. Then I landed my first job at Symbolics, where I started as the tech support girl for their cutting-edge hardware and animation software packages.

CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?

ANDREA LACKEY PACE: I manage several teams at Imageworks today, and the favorite part of my job is when I’ve been able to help groom and send out my entry-level team members to land jobs in their dream careers. To date, I have over 145 alumni who have come through my program and been promoted to roles within the company. I also love watching my alumni spread all over the industry and seeing how many LinkedIn connections I have in fantastic places doing impressive work. Oh, and the parties! I used to be in charge of throwing some award-winning company shindigs. Each one was epic and I have photos to prove it!

CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?

ANDREA LACKEY PACE: The worst part of the job is when the scheduled work doesn’t quite line up and I have to release some of the team members I’ve been grooming in the nest.

CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?

ANDREA LACKEY PACE: Our company was beginning to establish its headquarters in Vancouver, and I was working on building a new workforce there. I had already been successful in building the Canadian team for my initial group that I was managing, for a set of technical behind the scenes roles. This task was big, but because I grew up as one of these types of team members, I knew exactly how to find and prepare new people in Canada. And then … they gave me jurisdiction over a completely new department that I had no experience with and expected me to build it from the ground up in Canada as well. This was one of the most challenging managerial tasks I’d ever tackled – but I did it!

CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?

ANDREA LACKEY PACE: Our team was once asked to cover up an actor’s cold sore and shave off an actress’ pot belly.

CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?

ANDREA LACKEY PACE: The main change I’ve seen is the exponential amount of resources and effort it now takes to make movie magic, as well as the migration of the workforce across the border to Canada.

CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?

ANDREA LACKEY PACE: I would love to have a significant visual effects workforce back in Los Angeles again.

CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

ANDREA LACKEY PACE: Since I often hire for a ‘footstep in the door’ position here at Imageworks, I often get asked what it takes to work in this business. My main advice is to first have a passion for visual effects and animation, to love seeing the images, and to be proud to be a part of them. Next, having skills in computer programming – especially Python – is a huge plus, since many of the studio tools are written in that language; you can also control the major packages like Maya and Houdini, giving them more power to do special things. Being able to automate and make the computer do more is extremely valuable in this industry.

CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?

ANDREA LACKEY PACE: Big Fish – I thought the visuals were stunning and whimsical, especially the scenes with the Siamese sisters. But even more, what makes this film dear to my heart was the team I worked with on that movie. At the time, I was the overnight technical assistant who made sure the movie was continuing to render after hours. Victoria Alonso was the digital producer at the time, and she took pity on this poor working mother who slaved from 10pm-8am each day. She even offered to help me get an autograph from Tim Burton – I got not one personalized message from him, but two! I like to brag about that and often bring out my signed treasures at parties!

Gravity – I was totally captivated by the effects in this film and the performance that was delivered to go along with them. The scenes where she was in open space being tethered by a cord to fix something were frightening. I completely felt like I was experiencing being lost in space – totally believable.

Avatar – The magical introduction to the alien world was breathtaking, especially the glowing tree of life. Seeing this film in 3D sucked you right in and my eyes couldn’t get enough of all of the detail and color in that fictional world.

CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

ANDREA LACKEY PACE: Champagne!

CINEFEX: Andrea, thanks for your time!


Spotlight – Mark Breakspear

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.

Mark Breakspear is a visual effects supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks. Over and above his feature credits on films like Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Suicide Squad and American Sniper, Mark describes his main career highlight as “getting home before midnight once.”

Mark Breakspear

CINEFEX: Mark, how did you get started in the business?

MARK BREAKSPEAR: My first big break came at age 16, when I sent my 50th-or-so letter begging for a job to a company called Oxford Scientific Films, which was conveniently situated in the village where I grew up in England. I would travel past it every day on the school bus, and for about five seconds I would see over the tall hedge and get a glimpse of what they were working on: huge sets for underwater shots; tanks full of fish; scaled versions of everyday objects; and lights – many, many lights. I once even saw a Doctor Who Dalek in the parking lot!

Anyway, I decided this letter was going to be my last. They had politely rejected the previous 49 letters saying everything from “Thank you, but …” or “Due to your lack of experience …” and I’d finally reached the point where a career in archaeology seemed to be my new direction. But I decided I was going to go out with a bit of a bang, so I stapled a teabag to the letter and said simply: “Dear OSF – me again, don’t rush to say no. Have a cup of tea on me and let’s talk!” I sent the letter and waited. About two weeks later I received a large parcel from OSF and in it was a bag of sugar. The letter that was strapped to it with an elastic band read: “Dear Mark, NO! Hope that isn’t too bitter a pill, here’s a sweetener.” I laughed back the tears of disappointment but it felt good that I’d destroyed my dreams on my own terms.

The next day I received a phone call from the head of the studio at OSF. I could tell they’d put me on speakerphone, and they were asking if I got their package. I said yes, and heard them all laughing. Then the main cameraman said: “Why don’t you come in next week and we’ll give you a chance.” Boom! I was in! I worked insane hours for the next six months – basically for free – watching tree frogs jump off branches and flowers being tricked to open using 15-kilowatt HMI lights. I’d never been happier. Thanks, teabag. I owe you one!

Mark Breakspear sneaks into an early issue of Cinefex, in the background of this photo of the Oxford Scientific Films water tank.

Mark Breakspear (right) sneaks into an early issue of Cinefex, in the background of this photo of the Oxford Scientific Films water tank.

CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?

MARK BREAKSPEAR: There is nothing better than when you get to step back from thousands of decisions over hundreds of shots and see it all starting to work. It’s even better when the client also thinks so. That moment of creation that comes from hugely complex systems all working together is rewarding in a way that most people never get to see. I’m always humbled by the power of creative problem-solving – all voices get a seat at that table. But laugh or grin? That would be the day-to-day ways in which we all cope with the stress. We often spend more time at work than we do with our families, so having a team that works well together is essential – critical, even. Sometimes, all it takes for me to be genuinely happy is to see that people are enjoying what they are doing and working well together. From that comes the magic. The occasional dad-joke never goes amiss either.

CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?

MARK BREAKSPEAR: When I’m on set and the craft service table doesn’t have a tent or electrical power – normally a bad sign for the way the movie is going to go. I was on a movie where craft was a table on its own in a field, with a kettle but no power – that was a nightmare movie that flopped at the box office. On a different movie, where craft had two dedicated chefs, the film made close to a billion. I’m just saying there is probably a scientific relationship between craft service table size and box office takings.

CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?

MARK BREAKSPEAR: I was once working as a compositor on The X-Files in Los Angeles, at a company that was making great strides in television visual effects. We’d been asked to make changes by the director so late in the game that the front part of the show was already airing on the East coast while I was still making tiny changes to shots in the last act! A satellite truck in the alleyway outside sent it to wherever it needed to go to before the air-time for the last section. That was a stressful nightmare, for sure.

CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?

MARK BREAKSPEAR: While at OSF, I was asked to go to Brussels to pick up some special products for a Tampax commercial we were going to work on. Of course, I was very excited to be offered a business trip so early in my career – I was a young lad with no money and the company was going to send me through the Channel Tunnel to Europe. Sounds great, right?

I got to Brussels, went to the address given and let the receptionist know I was here to pick up the tampons for the commercial shoot – it had been explained to me that these were special ‘film ready’ tampons. The receptionist gave me a bag that contained several boxes, but as I turned to leave she indicated for me to wait. From a door to the side of the reception desk came two people carrying a six-foot model tampon for me to take back. It was so huge that the mean people at Eurostar made me buy it an extra seat on the train for the return journey. When I got back to OSF, everyone was laughing because they could have had it shipped but thought it would be funnier to send the new guy.

CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?

MARK BREAKSPEAR: I used to love having clients over my shoulder when I was a compositor on Flame and Henry – and Domino, if you remember that! Now, our teams are huge, remote and unknown half the time. I try to connect with everyone on a show because, for me, the best learning moments used to come when a client leaned over and pointed something out and I went: “Oh, of course!” I want people working on a show to feel like they learned something, rather than just turning out the same old sausages again and again.

CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?

MARK BREAKSPEAR: The AI world is going to be interesting. I think it will find the steep cliffs of creativity hard to climb, but climb them it eventually will. We’re going to see a massive reduction in the need for vendors to do roto, matchmove and so on, which will have a big impact on jobs overseas. Jobs in animation are probably the safest for now, but who knows? I’m basically the farmer from the 1720s saying that the steam engine might alter the way I plant potatoes but other than that, it won’t change much else. I think much of our industry – and most others – has its head in the sand regarding AI.

CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

MARK BREAKSPEAR: Be creative first. Be careful of the courses that focus on teaching you how to press buttons – that’s important but if you don’t have an eye, button-pushing will only get you so far. Also, if you want to earn your stripes, be prepared to travel long distances for next to nothing and pick up large-scale feminine hygiene products.

CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?

MARK BREAKSPEAR: Nightmare question! I have no idea. There are the obvious ‘greats’, like Jurassic Park, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, War for the Planet of the Apes – the snow on the fur, wow! But then you go back and you think of all the little moments that come and go in visual effects movies all the time that somehow push the boundaries of what can be done, making the dream just a little bit bigger and making some small kid think that life is going to be better.

CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

MARK BREAKSPEAR: My fingernails. If it’s something I worked on, I’m more interested in the audience reaction than being able to eat anything.

CINEFEX: Thanks for your time, Mark!


Spotlight – Joel Harlow

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.

Joel Harlow is a makeup and special effects makeup artist and designer with a career spanning decades. He created 56 unique alien species for Star Trek Beyond and has been Johnny Depp’s makeup artist for many years. Recent screen credits include the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films, Hellboy (2019), The Lone Ranger, LoganBlack Mass and Black Panther.

Joel HarlowCINEFEX: Joel, how did you get started in the business?

JOEL HARLOW: I always knew I wanted to create characters. After graduating from high school, I went to New York’s School of Visual Arts and enrolled in the animation program, since there were no makeup classes I could find – a far, far cry from today. I figured that I could create characters using two-dimensional techniques, stop-motion and clay animation, while still working on makeup techniques outside of school. It was here that I met some very talented artists working in the makeup effects world, and helped out on some of the projects they were working on at the time. After a couple of years in New York, I wound up on the makeup crew of Toxic Avenger 2 and 3. It was a rough project every step of the way! It was 24/7 work, for no money, with incredibly long commutes. But we did it because we loved it.

Those early projects really thinned the herd, leaving only the truly passionate. It’s different today. It’s so easy to enrol in a school and learn the techniques – we had to learn through experimentation and word of mouth. It’s almost too easy because, in my opinion, the struggle adds to the appreciation of the opportunity.

Anyway, after my time in New York, I relocated to Los Angeles where I shopped my portfolio around. I landed a job at Steve Johnson’s XFX, where I stayed for about eight years, learning from some of the industry’s most innovative artists and technicians. It was at the height of makeup effects – digital had not yet found its place, so effects that could be easily done digitally today had to be done practically. It was a great time for the industry.

Joel Harlow and Werner Pretorius transform actress Ashley Edner into the nautilus-like Natalia, one of 56 unique alien designs created by Harlow for "Star Trek Beyond." Photograph by Kimberley French and copyright 2016 © by Paramount Pictures.

Joel Harlow and Werner Pretorius transform actress Ashley Edner into the nautilus-like Natalia, one of 56 unique alien designs created by Harlow for “Star Trek Beyond.” Photograph by Kimberley French and copyright 2016 © by Paramount Pictures.

CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?

JOEL HARLOW: When it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of what I do, I love that moment right when I finish a makeup – especially if it is a makeup that I have designed and sculpted. The moment when all the months of work and thought come together on an actor, and you see your character come to life for the first time. That ‘creation’ moment is priceless.

When it comes to this career, I love the people I work with. My crew. They are some of the very best I have ever worked – and played – with.

CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?

JOEL HARLOW: Well, I’m not sure about this one. We work in a world of fantasy, and I think its important we remember that. Artists are a sensitive breed, but all of the inevitable pressure and scrutiny that comes with a career in this industry is temporary. I’m not saying it should ever be treated lightly. I’m saying that you shouldn’t make it more than it is – both the failures and the successes. Family and friends – true friends – are far more important.

CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?

JOEL HARLOW: Every project poses its own challenges – that’s why it is so difficult to compare one film to another in an awards arena. No two films offer the same opportunities or obstacles. I would say that budget and time oppose quality at every turn. The biggest challenge I’ve ever faced is trying to maintain that quality in the face of those obstacles. Fortunately, my team has the same goal. It isn’t worth doing if it isn’t worth doing right.

CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?

JOEL HARLOW: One of the weirder challenges was on one of my very first films. I was shooting down in Florida on a low-budget horror film. Maybe it was my lack of experience at the time, but we hadn’t coordinated with the wardrobe department when we started building our prosthetic makeups. This particular makeup was a melting, bubbling skin victim of demonic possession – go figure. Well, I built the prosthetics up to the mid-forearm, thinking the wardrobe would be a long sleeve shirt. He came out of his changing room in a tank top. Fortunately, the colour of the makeup was a purple and brown mix, so I filled the bare skin on his arms with peanut butter and jelly from the craft service table! It worked.

Joel Harlow creates Johnny Depp's Tonto makeup for "The Lone Ranger." Photograph copyright © by Walt Disney Pictures.

Joel Harlow creates Johnny Depp’s Tonto makeup for “The Lone Ranger.” Photograph copyright © by Walt Disney Pictures.

CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?

JOEL HARLOW: When I started out, the movie magic in character creation really focused on practical makeup effects. As the digital art form gradually advanced, there was absolutely a swing away from makeup effects. Recently, however, I’ve noticed a slight swing back towards practical makeup. The recent films I’ve worked on have been very much a collaboration between the two art forms. There are obstacles in building that I absolutely count on the visual effects departments to help with, just as there are practical elements that we have created for those departments. With an open dialogue and mutual respect, we have all created some pretty amazing cinematic moments.

CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?

JOEL HARLOW: Advancements in materials and techniques have continued ever since I started out. We have materials now that allow for more realistic skin prosthetics, stronger and lighter moulds and parts. I think I would like to see an advancement in the field of digital printing. There is very immediate crossover potential in this arena that hasn’t been completely explored yet. Easier, faster, more and more user-friendly, rigid and flexible printouts. It’s coming.

CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

JOEL HARLOW: You need to love it. When I started out, I would work on films for free, just to get the experience. Information and materials were much harder to come across than now – today, there are dozens of really well-designed makeup schools. I think, overall, that’s a great thing. The one critique I’d voice is that, if anything, it has become too easy to follow this path. Don’t get into this business because you want to work on movies or meet movie stars. Do it because you love the art form.  Do it because you want to create characters. Whether you are being paid or not, always create! It’s a great thing to have ambition as long as its supported by passion.

Joel Harlow designed this prosthetic makeup for actor Ron Pipes, transforming him into a fish-man inhabitant of H.P. Lovecraft's fictional town of Innsmouth.

Joel Harlow designed this prosthetic makeup for actor Ron Pipes, transforming him into a fish-man inhabitant of H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional town of Innsmouth.

CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?

JOEL HARLOW: An American Werewolf in London has everything. An amazing transformation presented in bright light, an outside-the-box werewolf design, a gradual decomposition progression of a main character from makeup to puppet over the course of the film, and a showcase of imaginative dream-demon characters. It still inspires me as much as it did the first time I viewed it.

Then there’s The Thing. It’s one of the first films that really inspired me. Every transformation effect in The Thing is mind-blowing, and continues to inspire me.

Finally Jaws, by far my number one cinematic experience. It is about as close to a perfect film as I’ve seen, in spite of – or because of – the technical issues that the crew faced making it. I could watch it on a loop and never get tired of it.

CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

JOEL HARLOW: Popcorn! Movies and popcorn – it just fits.

CINEFEX: Joel, thanks for your time!


Spotlight – Sara Mustafa

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.

Sara Mustafa is head of global operations and resources at Pixomondo. Her job entails examining and building global capacity, and overseeing resources both creative and technical. In November 2016, Sara launched the company’s new Vancouver office.

Sara Mustafa

CINEFEX: How did you get started in the business?

SARA MUSTAFA: I’ve always worked in the creative and digital space. I was fascinated by moviemaking and effects, so I actively looked for a career in one of the biggest companies in Toronto – Pixomondo I started working in the Toronto office as a human resources manager, and held different positions, then after a year I moved to the head office in Los Angeles to take on a more global role. Little by little I became a visual effects addict! Now I direct global operations and I cannot ask for a better space to be.

CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?

SARA MUSTAFA: Watching artists so intensely figuring out shots and getting excited about it. Also, delivering shots and watching ‘making ofs.’ The adrenalin rush makes me very happy.

CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?

SARA MUSTAFA: Clients – no, I’m kidding! I don’t think I ever sob, at least not at work. I might get sad occasionally about losing a show, but it’s all a fair game. Also when I see good talent being wasted or misused in some way. As you have figured by now, I’m very pro- artists, and if they are sad I get a little sad too.

CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?

SARA MUSTAFA: Opening a new facility in one of the most competitive cities for visual effects – Vancouver. That was exciting and a little terrifying. It was challenging because we 100 percent needed to open a new office, and it made the most sense to open it in Vancouver, but we were gambling on a very strong market. But guess what – we now have a full-on office in Vancouver and are expanding.

CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?

SARA MUSTAFA: We needed to do a same-day delivery from Los Angeles to Toronto. I was the only person who had their passport in the office, so I flew from Toronto to L.A. and back in the same day. I also bartended in one of our parties once, but I’ll tell you about that some other time …

CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?

SARA MUSTAFA: The migration of artists from region to region every three to five years, based on production and postproduction tax incentives, and on where the work lands. As for changes in the technical arena – shifting to remote working, also GPU- and cloud-based applications.

CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?

SARA MUSTAFA: I would like to see more artist appreciation. People easily forget that behind the machines and software are great artist who make the impossible shots happen. I want to see it recognised that people matter and artists are very valuable.

CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

SARA MUSTAFA: Get an internship and be current with all the new trends. Also, train yourself on work-life balance from the very beginning, so that you work hard and enjoy life too. Most importantly, you are responsible for your own career, so don’t hesitate in exploring new avenues, shorter contracts on cool projects and, if the situation allows, new cities and adventures! It will all be worth it.

CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?

SARA MUSTAFA: That’s a tough one! I’m a fan of the ‘Fast and Furious’ movies because I love fire and car crashes. Hugo, with its CG effects in the opening shot, is fascinating because of all the optimization that went into it. The Jungle Book, because the amount of work and tenacity that goes into creature effects is fascinating to me.

CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

SARA MUSTAFA: Popcorn and Maltesers!

CINEFEX: Sara, thanks for your time!


Spotlight – Omar Morsy

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.

Omar Morsy is head of animation at MPC. His feature credits include Blade Runner 2049, and he lists Wonder Woman and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle as being among his recent personal career highlights.

Omar Morsy

CINEFEX: How did you get started in the business, Omar?

OMAR MORSY: I’ve always wanted to be an animator. I would watch the old Disney films on VHS and hit play-pause-play-pause to study every frame of any shot I loved. I was animation director at a big videogame company when a friend of mine asked me to join the team at Mokko Studio to animate an alien Doberman on Riddick. After a decade working on AAA games, I wanted a change, so I jumped at the opportunity.

CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?

OMAR MORSY: Creating animations that I know will live forever. It’s great to think that 100 years from now, people will still have access to my work.

CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?

OMAR MORSY: Animating 83 spaceships flying around and attacking each other in outer space. What a mess!

CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?

OMAR MORSY: Animating a rabbit peeing on a folding chair.

CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?

OMAR MORSY: When I first started animating back in 1997, it really was a male-dominated field. Things have changed so much now. The animation team has never been closer to 50/50. MPC is one of the studios that is really trying to address diversity imbalances.

CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?

OMAR MORSY: Being able to animate complex, heavy rigs at 24 frames a second without a hiccup.

CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

OMAR MORSY: Understand realism! Always do your research, look at references, and make sure your work is as credible and as realistic as possible.

CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?

OMAR MORSY: Terminator 2: Judgment Day – I remember watching that movie with my dad and hearing him ask, “How did they do that?” specifically when the T-1000 walks through the prison bars. Inception – I was not only blown away by the story, but I had never seen visual effects of buildings curling upwards and above. I thought it was brilliant. Riddick – because we used my dog, Tyson, as reference for the alien dog. My boy is now immortal!

CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

OMAR MORSY: Beef jerky. But I have to sneak that in – shhh!

CINEFEX: Omar, thanks for your time!

Now Showing – Cinefex 157

Cinefex 157

We’ve always had a soft spot for dragons. It began way back in 1982, when the cover girl for Cinefex 6 was Vermithrax Pejorative, the scaly star of the classic fantasy Dragonslayer.

It took 14 years and 60 issues for us to fall for another dragon. In 1996, the film was Dragonheart, and the fire-breathing beast in question was the charismatic Draco. Fast-forward to 2014, and we graced the cover of Cinefex 137 with the sinister Smaug from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Now we’re dragons all over again, with a spectacular shot from HBO’s Game of Thrones showing Daenerys Targaryen astride her flying steed, Drogon.

Cinefex dragon covers featuring Dragonslayer, Dragonheart, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and Game of Thrones

And that’s just the beginning. Cinefex 157 also contains our in-depth article on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, not to mention … well, why don’t I let our editor-in-chief, Jody Duncan, give you a guided tour of our first issue of 2018:

Jody Duncan – From the Editor’s Desk

As the ‘Cine’ in Cinefex suggests, in our nearly 40 years we have concentrated on movie visual effects, only very rarely venturing into television. Every so often, however, a television project is so worthy of coverage, it grabs us by the lapels and shoves us out of our ‘movie’ box. Game of Thrones is just such a show, and we’ve covered its seventh season in a nearly double-length article with a lot of behind-the-scenes photos and fascinating commentary. Using wave machines to splash water onto a dressed ship sitting in a parking lot in Northern Ireland … braving the elements on a glacier in Iceland … dropping army of the dead performers into a water tank by way of a hydraulic rig … setting wagons and stunt men ablaze on a field in Spain – all the stories are here.

As if that weren’t enough for a single issue, Cinefex 157 features Joe Fordham’s coverage of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Joe is our resident ‘Star Wars’ guy, and he doesn’t disappoint. The story of Neal Scanlan’s team unpacking a box to find Stuart Freeborn’s original Yoda molds – well, that’s worth the read right there.

We follow Star Wars with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Confession time: I did not much like the original Jumanji. I remember describing it to a friend as a movie in which ‘this bad thing happens and then this bad thing happens and then this bad thing happens.’ So imagine my surprise when I guffawed all the way through Jake Kasdan’s sequel! Interviewing Jake, I immediately realized where the movie got its sense of humor. To find out where it got its visual effects pizzazz, look no further than this issue of Cinefex.

We round out the issue with our Downsizing story. Reading it reminded me of how I struggled to understand the technologies involved in bringing tiny characters to the screen for one of my earliest articles – Willow, Cinefex 35, 1988. As Joe Fordham’s Downsizing story illuminates, the technologies have changed but the same artful execution is required.

The next time we meet, spring will be in the air. Winter Is Going …

Cinefex 157 is on newsstands now, and available to order at our online store. If you’re a subscriber, your copy is already winging its way to your mailbox. And don’t forget our iPad edition, featuring tons more photographs – many of them exclusive to Cinefex – and stunning video content.

 

Spotlight – Trey Harrell

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.

Trey Harrell is a visual effects supervisor, CG and lighting supervisor, and 3D generalist at Mr. X. His film credits include Tron: Legacy, Crimson Peak, The Hundred Foot Journey and, most recently, The Shape of Water.

Trey Harrell

CINEFEX: Trey, how did you get started in the business?

TREY HARRELL: I’d had nearly 20 years in the advertising world before there was a big decline between 2006 and 2009. The shake-up steeled me to send my reels out again, and I ended up as lead lighting TD on Tron: Legacy for Mr. X in Toronto.

CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?

TREY HARRELL: Literally every skill I’ve learned over my career, from my eye, to programming pipeline and database management, to simming and lookdeving viscera. I never have the same job two days in a row. There are still days I wake up and I can’t believe I’ve made a career out of playing with monsters!

CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?

TREY HARRELL: My first feature began about 10 years ago with a 12-month post schedule. Some recent projects I’ve seen have five-month schedules with three in post – the demand for this type of work has increased exponentially since prestige television got added to the mix. It’s a serious quest worldwide finding talent who are up for the challenges of such compressed post schedules. Also, committee creative has always made me weep uncontrollably, and will undoubtedly continue to do so in the future.

CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?

TREY HARRELL: I think if you’ll talk with anyone at the various shops involved, you’ll find that Tron: Legacy was incredibly difficult for all of the studios from a sheer brute force perspective. It was simply a lot of intensely grueling hours. That’s different than, for example, The Shape of Water where we had to get to know the creature as well as the director and sculptors knew him, after spending years designing him in preproduction. We had to be able to look Guillermo del Toro in the eye and say with no doubt whatsoever that his eyes and face were 100% on-model in a shot. I’m not sure your body recognizes the stress any differently between the two scenarios when you’re in the moment, but with the benefit of hindsight it becomes clearer. That’s no different than any creative endeavor, though. Every single one plays out differently.

CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?

TREY HARRELL: Well, I’ve worked with Guillermo a fair bit to date, so several of my strangest stories naturally revolve around his shows. I’ve had Robocop (Peter Weller) direct an episode of The Strain, pulling out his trumpet to riff jazz between takes – all that after I grew up on a steady diet of Cronenburg and Naked Lunch. More recently, I’ve had days-long text message chains with close friends detailing how Beauty and the Beast is okay because the beast has fur, but the idea of scales crosses an imaginary line somehow in a fantasy where the heroine has agency …

Watch a breakdown reel of Mr. X’s work on The Shape of Water:

CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?

TREY HARRELL: I see conversely the need to specialize more due to the sheer workload at hand versus the need – now more than ever – for generalists who can speak the language of all of the disciplines at play. The demand for quality work at the television level and the shrinking post schedule everywhere are probably the biggest changes visible day-to-day.

CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?

TREY HARRELL: Where to begin? I would like to see the largest software vendors throw R&D at their products like they did in the oughts. This is still not a mature industry and there’s immense room for growth. Incorporating third-party plugins annually does not justify support fees. I’d like to see post schedules level out to a manageable pace. And I’d like to see more filmmakers commit to getting as much as they can in-camera instead of shooting a scene on green with a dozen softboxes overhead and a tennis ball for eyelines – if you’re lucky – and then figuring out what the shot is later.

CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

TREY HARRELL: This is a production business – product and deadlines, and brute force hours will only get you so far. You’ll get one show in ten that’s special – you might dig it, critically it might be a success, or it’s just a great time working with the crew. You can’t show up for work differently on one show versus another. Also, work a job you hate for a few years before settling into a career doing something you love – perspective is important.

CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?

TREY HARRELL: Assuming I’ve got decent gear at said festival, I’d pick a 70mm print of Blade Runner: The Final Cut to start, for sure. Popcorn cinema would come second – I’ve got a soft spot for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I’d have to cap it with something from my guilty pleasure bucket – today let’s call it Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack.

CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

TREY HARRELL: It’s a toss-up between Raisinets and Sno-Caps, but I make absolutely certain to dispose of the plastic wrap before entering the theater. I die inside a little bit when every package in the cinema opens up simultaneously on the first line of dialog.

CINEFEX: Trey, thanks for your time!