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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Dennis Muren, A.S.C. Creative Direction & Visual Effects Supervisor by KingRichard76

KingRichard76, a great friend and contributor to MuppetsHenson, has submitted a great new article for all to read concerning his meeting with Dennis Muren, A.S.C. Creative Direction & Visual Effects Supervisor at ILM. Enjoy!

Dennis Muren, A.S.C. Creative Direction & Visual Effects Supervisor 

Within life we find ourselves inspired by artists of every calibre, especially from those within the performing arts, those whom are gifted with a vision that they are generous to share with an appreciative audience.

Jim Henson, Steve Whitmire, Mr. Spielberg, Mr. Lucas, John Williams, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl and Wolfgang Peterson are nine such names who's talents have enthralled audiences over the decades and whose work will always be fondly remembered.

As well as these wonderful people there's one person who's creative mind, expertise and vision has set about changing the look of visual effects in modern movies since 1976, a man of such creativity that some of the most iconic scenes in modern day cinema are due to him.

Dennis Muren ASC is a LEGENDary visual effects artist who worked with George Lucas (Founder of Industrial Light and Magic or ILM for short) on the first Star Wars movie 1977, A New Hope, this followed with Empire and Jedi as well as working with Spielberg on E.T. Indiana Jones- the list is endless... He has more Oscars than Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks combined.

The Abyss and Terminator 2 for James Cameron and then in '91 for Spielberg's Jurassic Park (Dennis was responsible for realizing the imagination of Spielberg by bringing the CG dinosaurs to life - this then led to George Lucas bringing out the Star Wars special editions - in short computer generated images took over the industry and make the visions of filmmakers like JJ Abrams a reality (most recently in Star Wars Ep7 The Force Awakens)

At an early age I was always very interested in watching the documentaries for Star Wars and seeing Mr. Muren at work, in early 1996 I'd written to ITV after they had shown a documentary showcasing some of Mr. Muren's work in "Lights, Camera, Action!" to see if I could get his autograph.

Then in 2002 on a brief trip to L.A. I went to see Mr. Muren's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and thought that would be the closest I'd ever get to a true legend.

In the past I used to attend sci-fi conventions and got to meet those from within the Star Wars universe and knew that Mr. Muren would never be at a convention to sign...

A few weeks ago I found out that he was going to be doing a talk at the British. Film. Institute, London Film Festival with fellow ILMers David Vickery and Kevin Jenkins entitled "Behind the Magic of ILM" was really looking forward to this as this was a hope for opportunity to meet Dennis.

Wasn't too sure how he would feel about signing autographs, if he would be ok with it and had to choose what to take with me for him to sign - I had some "priority" items which I knew really would have been awesome to get Dennis to sign and wondered on what to take.

October 2nd, week beginning was a week long remembered in so many ways - Friday 7th October I travelled up to the BFI in London wearing my ILM Tshirt, was sat in the front row for the talk and was really interesting listening to Nancy (Tartaglione) talking to Dennis, David and Kevin - at one point during the show the questions were opened up to the audience, I had already chosen what to ask beforehand but when I was given the mic and started to address Dennis (whom was wearing a rather snazzy pair of trainers) I kinda slipped up, his answer to my question was wonderful to hear :)



After the show the audience began to leave NFT 1, and outside a massive crowd had gathered, there was no pushing or shoving, no bickering, absolute silence as Mr. Muren met both aficionados and fans alike, in that moment Mr. Muren could have thought to himself "Wait, who are all these people waiting for? Have the Rolling Stones reunited?" but let's face it, all these fans were glad to be in the presence of a motion picture Magician, I guess there must have been at least thirty to forty people waiting to meet/say "Hi"/get Mr. Murens autograph/or a photo, his height saw him tower above everyone as his good nature saw everyone in awe.

Yes, I admit I had quite a few pieces for Mr. Muren to sign and was conscious of the amount of fellow fans who also had bits for him to sign and was amazed that he signed all that he did - he had no problems posing for pictures which was a real delight, and I chose to ask if he'd be ok to wear my Fedora (with Mr. Muren wearing it it reminded me of his very iconic cameo in Raiders) What an honour that moment was and a funny one too.

Travelling back home afterwards one couldn't help but feel as though Christmas had come early, they say that you should never meet your heroes- in this case so many of us are glad that we did, if anything, just to thank the man that brought such iconic moments to the big screen and have wowed generations of filmgoers and continue to do so.

I think for so many of us Friday 7th October 2016 will be a day long remembered.


Many thankies to Dennis Muren, Nancy Tartaglione, David Vickery, Kevin Jenkins, Aimie Drinkwater, Christopher Wilson, David Simpson, Bunny Summers, Lea (from Ace Comics Southend) Boyles and Nate "Good Things Come To Those Who Wait"

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