Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Practical FX Artist Alec Gillis

Alec Gillis was born in Orange County, California. At the end of a childhood spent devouring sci-fi and special effects movies like the original Planet of the Apes, he found work at Roger Corman's New World Pictures in 1980. There, he worked along side future genre notables such as Gale Anne Hurd, Robert and Dennis Skotak, Rob Bottin and James Cameron. By 1983 he had finished UCLA film school and began working for famed makeup artist Tom Savini on Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter.

In 1985 he met Creature Legend Stan Winston and worked on Invaders From Mars, Aliens, Predator, Leviathan, and Monster Squad, among others. In 1988, along with Tom Woodruff, Jr. Alec formed Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. Their first feature film was Tremors, followed by Alien 3 (Oscar nomination), Death Becomes Her (Oscar win), Mortal Kombat, Jumanji, Starship Troopers (Oscar nomination) , The Santa Clause franchise, the Spider-Man franchise, the Alien vs. Predator franchise, Wolverine: Origins, X-Men: First Class, The Thing (2011).

Alec is also a 3 times published author, and his pictorial sci-fi book, which James has called, 'a visual masterpiece', has been optioned by MGM. He has directed numerous short films, Second Units, Creature Units and has written many scripts including the science fiction epic The Seventh Tear, currently in pre-pre-production.

He is the father of 4 daughters and lives in Los Angeles, California.

Why did you create Amalgamated Dynamics Inc?

Tom and I had worked for Stan Winston for a while, and when he decided to direct he stopped taking jobs. His plan was that we'd only work on his movies. That would have been fine if we were really busy, but there just were far less opportunities suddenly, and we were sad not to be working with people like Cameron and Zemeckis anymore. Stan was extremely loyal and he was keeping a handfull of us on payroll despite having no jobs. we thought maybe we'd get off his payroll and strike out on our own.

What is "HARBINGER DOWN" about?

On one level, it's about the crew of an Alaskan trawler trapped with a creature on board. On another level it's about giving fans an experience they felt they didn't get with THE THING (2011). On yet another it's to show the world that Practical FX still have a valid place in modern filmmaking.

Why use practical effects?

There's a tangible, visceral, intimate, tactile quality to practical FX. If you know how to design, build and direct it, it can be unbelievably impactful and emotionally satisfying. It's also 3 to 6 times cheaper than digital. This isn't about wanting to suppress digital FX, it's about standing up for our art form.

How did you get such a great team together?

The crew of ADI has been honed and built over 25 years. The Harbinger Down team of the Skotaks and Pat mcClung are guys I started with at Corman's over 30 years ago. They're guys I looked up to. Guys that taught me a lot of tricks. Taught me an appreciation for in-camera FX. And they're our friends!

What do you want your legacy to be?

There's way too much yet to be done to talk about legacies!

What makes your Kickstarter different from others?

Well, we're not the above-the-line Hollywood bigshots who have lots of traditional options. We're struggling artists. We have an art to save. Hopefully people see something worth saving when they watch the pitch vid.

What are some of the perks of the campaign?

Some of the prizes are blast. The death scene where you get to keep your dead body  We have miniatures for sale, an awesome pice of prop Soviet space wreckage, creatures of various sizes, your own death effect, and of course all the standard stuff like script copies, downloads. Oh, and Lance H. will do a recorded message for you too!

What movies inspired you to make the film?

ALIEN and Carpenter's THE THING. Twin pillars of sci-fi horror!

How does it feel to win an award?

Stan Winston used to call them bowling trophies. Still. being a good bowler is cool!

What's one thing you wish you could tell your younger self?

Lose the center part in the hair. Oh, and don't rely on the studios to make your dreams come true. Savior self!

Will you talk about any shenanigans you've seen while working on a production?

Check out our youtube channel!

A Video's worth 1000 words! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP5Kq4DG0kU&list=UUbhiVDWG8wgg3v9cuH6DqEA&index=6

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Support Harbinger Down! Do it for the monsters!


Thank You Alec for doing the interview. I wish everybody on the Harbinger Down team all the best.