From someone who’s been around a long time, I’d like to personally congratulate the invisible screen virtuosos on their incredible work… if I could give a gong for the mantlepiece or trophy cabinet, I certainly would.
Throughout my career, I’ve been irritated at the categories that supposedly offer recognition for artistry in the film industry, as embodied in the handing out ceremonies at festivals… they are just odd and the decision makers often seem to have little idea of what makes the story jump off the screen.
For what it’s worth, my opinion of what makes a film ‘work’… which takes it from OK to wholly engaging, is invisible artistry… so subtly woven in, that it goes unnoticed… my maxim, “if you’re seeing it, it’s failed”. Such is the case with puppetry and digitalFX.
A career-long source of irritation, is that there isn’t a category for me as a performer… which is what I consider I am – the puppet I operate, the creature costume I wear, the physical effect I perform, are just ways of creating the characters that bring story to life. By way of example: IMDB doesn’t consider a puppeteer a performer, so much of my work appears way down the listings under either ‘crew’ or ‘other’.
So… where might we nominate what I do in the existing roster of award categories?
Animation? No… though elements have been animated.
Live action? No… though we recorded it as such.
How about VFX? Again not really… though this was key to getting it shot.
Editing? Well who would know, unless you’ve seen the many versions?
For me, it must work as a story… how we got there and what was used is irrelevant, but thanks to all involved – it does!
Derek Meddings, a well known FX supervisor of the old school, who I worked with on ‘The Never Ending Story’, said, “If a bit of string works… use a bit of string.”
So when input to a project garners nomination, enjoy the applause and take the bow, whichever category it’s shoved into.
And by way of example… here’s a link to my friend Adam C Sager’s VFX breakdown for Toby Froud’s film, “Lessons Learned”