Let me start by telling everyone what it is that I do in regard to Special
Effects. I do what they call live Special Effects. I like to call it the
elements, fire-wind-rain-smoke-snow-pyrotechnics-rigging-etc. These effects are
done live on set. However I do work with computer generated special effects.
Lets say we are doing a rain scene, what we’ll do is film some rain on black or
blue screen. Then in post production they can add the rain in if they like. I
used rain as an example but you can also do it with any of the other elements.
As you can imagine I like to do it for real, but sometimes there are situations
where you can’t do the effects exactly like you want. So you work together with
the visual effects crew and make it happen.
One last note, I do not do any
special effects make-up type work.
Here are some FAQ’s. More will be added as needed. Thanks for checking out my
How did you get started in special effects?
A good friend of my Dads was a prop master in the business. One day he called
my Dad and asked him if I wanted to work. I guess you can say the rest is in the
books. On that first job I was assigned to the Special Effects department being
run by the one and only Gary Zeller. After the job was over Gary asked me if I
would like to continue working with him, and I did. Gary was the best mentor I
could have ever had. I will always be forever thankful for what he taught me.
People will sometimes say oh you knew somebody, well that's true. What they fail
to realize is I made the most of this opportunity. I was willing to work as hard
as I could, I never fooled around, I was willing to learn, always coming to work
on time, etc. I did whatever it took. For the first 7 years that's right 7 years
I worked other jobs waiting until some effects work would come in.
How can I get into doing special effects?
First off special effects and this business is not for everyone. The hours
are extremely long, the working environments are sometimes questionable at best.
I would first recommend going to a film/video/still type shoot first and see if
it interests you. There are lots of jobs on a shoot. You can contact your local
film office (every state has one) in order to see what's going on in town and
work as an intern. Film production books (which are available online) are also
another avenue to take. If you are still interested in special effects after
that, the only way you are going to learn is if someone teaches you. You can try
to contact effects companies and see if you can intern, sweep the shop etc. Then
when you get really good there are several licenses you’ll need to do the
pyrotechnical end of it but that's another story and a long way down the road.
Can you rent/sell me the materials I need to do the job?
I do not rent any equipment without myself or my crew being present at the
job. As far as ANYTHING to do with pyrotechnics the answer is a simple NO.
How long have you been doing special effects?
Over 28 years and own company for 22.
What kind of effects/jobs have you done?
Check out the rest of my website its all there.
Do you like what you do?
For me, I love it!!
How do you do a certain type of effect?
Every job is different. I’ll go back to the rain example. If a production
company hires you to do rain, its never the same. Rain tower placement, water
source, camera angles. You need to be aware of all your surroundings to do the
best you can do. Its NEVER as easy as setting up the towers turning on the water
and your done. This goes for all the effects you might be doing. One final note
about this - even if I did the best rain/ snow/ pyro that's ever been done you
need everyone on set to work as a team. If its not lit right you won’t see it,
if the camera is not up to speed you won’t get it, if the car is in the wrong
place its not right, etc. The point is the effects crew is just one part of a
team that has to work together to make it happen.