DON J. MYERS
West Hollywood, CA 90069

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CREATIVE SKILLS

3D Animation/Lighting


I create photorealistic 3D animation for movies, TV and commercials using NewTek's Lightwave 3D. I do lighting, layout, key frame animation, particles, voxels and more while taking into account the specific limitations of film, video or digital media. I've animated oceans, shoes, sharks, Xena's skeleton, Gotham City, fish, lizards, robots, spaceships, zero-G debris, ancient Egypt, Las Vegas on the moon, etc! I majored in helicopter crashes at sea with a minor in flotsam and jetsam.

3D Modeling/Texturing


I'm known for quickly and accurately modeling complex structures from photos without measurements, especially rigid bodies like machines and architecture, but I've also made my share of mummies and monsters. I use polygon, spline and algorithmic creation methods. Learning 3D on slow Amigas in the 1990s and working in interactive games taught me the importance of good looks with low poly counts and tileable textures. Nevertheless I most often work on extremely high poly film res scenes doing the tough stuff like storms at sea.

Compositing/2D Art/Animation


I composite my own shots using Digital Fusion and they are usually showstoppers. I often get to do openings that go on and on, a very exciting challenge! Someday I would like to create a shot that is 3 minutes long so it could be my entire demo reel! I am getting close as my opening to the WB TV show "Birds of Prey" was over a minute. I use Adobe Creative Suite to create backgrounds and seamless textures for characters and objects. My style incorporates great detail, realism and chiaroscuro. It is more painterly and naturalistic than many, more antiseptic, computer artists.

Video Editing/Production


Since 2008 I've created hundreds of short subject videos for YouTube documenting the atrocities of the dying Church of Scientology. Even seven lawsuits from the Church have not prevented me from racking up 5 million views on one YouTube channel alone! I shoot material, edit it and do all the graphics and sound. Some videos are comedies and street theater, other document Church abuses. I was never in the Cult, I just hate it. And when I joined with some ex-Scientologists to make sit-down interview videos we started a Youtube channel "Surviving Scientology." This channel has several hundred thousand views as well and 15,000 subscribers. The Church detested this work so much they made a hate video accusing my producer of being seventy year old prostitute.

Analog Media


I've drawn and painted since high school in the early 1980's using charcoal, colored pencil, pastels, pen, acrylic, egg tempera, and oils. I rarely use these any more since their undo function is poorly implemented (despite a great user interface). I'm good at highly textured and detailed organic images like landscapes and rocks. I stink at drawing people. But many famous artists are bad at drawing people. Adolph Hitler was. Uh, he may not have been much of an artist but he WAS famous. Perhaps history would have been different if he had been accepted to art school. SNICKER. HITLER, the gift that keeps on giving for movie and video game artists who need steady work!

MEDIA CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Once upon a time when my mom and dad were tots people went to physical movie theaters ("GWTW") or, when I was a kid, we watched linear television at home ("ROOTS.") Those days are gone with the wind. You can see by my long list of projects that I am not one to wannabee screw around low budget stuff. Teams I was on have won both Emmys and VES awards. Even a Razzie! Oops. I'm looking at you "Steve!"

PROJECT
 
Jack Reacher Never Go Back - Flash Film Works
(Paramount - 2016) - 3D modeling, animation and compositing


jack reacher 2 posterImagine me, a major Scientology protester, being paid by Tom Cruise to animate him tasing people acting like a hero!  Too funny. A job is a job! But this was not Cruise's "A list" franchise it was his "B List" one.  Unfortunately the FX budget was too small because production costs had been sponged off the top by all the above the liners in case the movie flopped (as 80% do). A common accounting practice. Taking money meant for the production and skimming it off. See also Mel Brook's IP "The Producers."

Also, the movie was shot on film not digital, a grainy oddity, and the shot handles were 16 frames. That is very unusual and added needless expense. So I had to animate over a second of unused material (16 frames x 2  handles @ 24 fps) per shot.  Multiple animators told me "my shot was a lot shorter in the theater." Very odd. I thought Cruise ran a tight ship. The Cruise ship! :)
Dolphin Tale 2 - Flash Film Works
(WB - 2014) - 3D modeling, animation and compositing


dolphin tale 2 posterThe sequel to Dolphin Tale was shot in 2014. Sadly in 2021 Winter the dolphin died of a gastrointestinal infection. Perhaps she was fed a dead fish that was tainted. This was a massive loss for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium as she was a gigantic tourist draw and helped them build income in their real estate fight with the Church of Scientology (SCIENTOLOGY AGAIN!) in Clearwater, FL.

FUN FACT: Dolphins can't drink fresh water they live in a salt bath. All the fresh water they consume comes from the fish they eat. All the water must be stripped from their waste and conserved. So they poop white chalk!  No problem out in the ocean. Unfortunately in a pool this immediately mixes with the water the animal is artificially contained in. So every time you see actors in the water with them they are swimming in fishy shit! Poop soup!
Dolphin Tale - Flash Film Works
(WB - 2011) - 3D modeling, animation and compositing


dolphin tale posterThis movie was about Winter the baby dolphin whose tail was ruined by being caught in a FL crab trap. I helped animate the digital version of the prosthetic tail (an engineering marvel) she was outfitted with. This movie helped the Clearwater Aquarium become a much bigger tourist draw. They needed this money because the Church of Scientology OWNS the city of Clearwater essentially (SCIENTOLOGY AGAIN!). Both the Church and the Aquarium were fighting over valuable land in the downtown.

Winter was not capable of doing her own tricks like jumping out of the water. We animated a "stunt dolphin" with a perfect tail doing it's thing and then we removed the good tail and replaced it with my prosthetic. Soooo many passes to get the invisible FX right! Water makes every FX shot much harder.
All About Steve- Flash Film Worksrazzie Award winner
(Sony - 2009) - 3D modeling, animation and compositing


Sandra BullockOne of the worst movies ever made, I shudder just watching the parts I worked on. I could never watch it all. It is TOE CURLINGLY BAD and all the "shirtless Bradley Cooper" scenes in the world cannot save it. This flick is worse than when that senile old guy flaked out at the Academy Awards and I felt my toes twisting into my shoes! At least Sandra Bullock accepted her Razzie award that year in hilarious good humor complete with a wagonload of DVD copies of the movie for her un-fans. Her speech was more entertaining than the Oscars and MUCH shorter (of course). The only other actor to be so brave was Halle Berry who was likewise hilarious in her un-acceptance speech for the disastrous studio feature "Catwoman." She brought her Oscar with her. Bullock was in good movies that year like "The Blind Side" but this was her personal project. A very comically hip personal project it would be. A project that would make audiences laugh at things that were not usually supposed to be funny in a Monty Python knowing type way. Instead it is a fiasco featuring a climax where deaf children are trapped in a sinkhole.

I animated 3d cicadas and threw them at Bullock's boobs for three weeks in a cringe inducing sequence in a culvert. I animated a scene where a physically unattractive Asian actor is stripped to his doughy nakeness. Barely in his underwear. It makes me feel embarrassed to watch. And I only made the establishing shot! I animated a stupid scene where the heroes hide in a culvert drainage pipe to avoid a tornado (a twister which we FX artists like Dan Novy bled to make look good). This is the worst thing you can do to escape a tornado! You will get sucked out of the culvert like a pea thru a straw when the air pressure changes. So, not only is it a bad movie, but it also gives bad advice during twisters. Fortunately NOBODY will see that scene!
Defiance - Flash Film Works
(Paramount - 2008) - 3D modeling and animation


daniel craigHITLER AGAIN! This very good WW II movie was shot in the same areas of Poland that the Nazis actually took people out to and shot in mass graves. Most of the WW II genocide happened in those kinds of places. What a great way to terrify the locals and let them know they are next if they "misbehave."  Mass graves statistically held many more "death numbers" crimes than famous slaughter camps like Auschwitz.  Our simulated mass graves were not far from the real thing. Just a different kind of "shot." The best part is that the story is told from the perspective of the rebels. You never see the Nazis except when far away and shooting at the protagonists. Just like in real life. The exception is a single scene of infiltration that is all the more effective because you don't see Nazis up close at any other time.

Projects like this can be painful to work on as you have to dwell on war for months. I asked my co-worker "Watcha workin' on Alfie Berger?"  He replied "Blowing up kids" with a tedious sigh. It's a shot where the Nazis find the forest dwelling Jewish protagonists, led by Daniel Craig. Children rush to a bunker only to get blown up during an air raid when dive bombed by Stuka (Sturzkampfflugzeug) bombers.  Nevertheless Hitler is the gift that keeps on giving if you want to animate WW II games and movies! Work is work!
Day The Earth Stood Still- Flash Film Works
(Fox - 2008) - 3D modeling, animation and compositing


Keanu ReevesThis version is so much better than my childhood memories of the 1950s original and I don't mean just technically. The remake has a much better script. I thought that the Robert Wise original version of the flick was fine when I saw it as a kid on WXIX-TV Channel 19 @ Taconic Terrace in Cincinnati Ohio. As an adult I assumed was probably better than this often effective Sci Fi thriller I worked on. Then I bought the Blu-Ray version of this movie w/Keanu Reeves and Scientologist Will Smith's son Jaden. (SCIENTOLOGY AGAIN!)

The Blu Ray copy included a free version of the 1950s Robert Wise original. IT IS TERRIBLE. A space alien lands and the "person" is seen by many people but nobody puts up a "wanted poster?" The spaceship lands on the mall of Washington DC and yet it is guarded at night by TWO PEOPLE alone? Wouldn't crowds be there 24/7 and a battalion of security would be needed? A woman menaced by a giant walking robot slowly backs into a wall and collapses like a pathetic girl?  Oh come on! The remake is so much smarter and more topical on the page. Who cares about the VFX or sound if the script lacks "mythic resonance."
Blood Diamond - Flash Film Works
(WB - 2006) (Uncred.) - 2D compositing

Leonardo Di Caprio
I found this movie episodic and engaging in its topicality. I have worked on movies with both Andy Davis the director (Holes, The Guardian) and, on other movies, Andy Davis the animator (Blood Diamond). Andy animated a sequence where terrorized African refugees walk through a forest to escape evil warlords. Andy wanted to make a "giant penguin" walk with them under the trees as a hidden "easter egg joke."  The director said "Sure." So he animated it. When Andy saw it with the cast and crew the final edit included a shot of horrible tragedy. Then they cut to the refugee forest shot of Andy's with the giant penguin which nobody could notice but him. He burst out laughing while everyone else was dramatically aghast.  The cast and crew looked at him like he was a sociopath!

Another story I find interesting was when my fellow animator, Tim Everitt, took over one of my explosion shots. I took a fullers earth explosion element, comped it into the background plate and, after it went off, I deliberately drifted the smoke to one side because that is what real life does. We do not live in a vacuum. He thought that was an error, removed it, and had to go back to my version because they said "Its not real anymore!" I did not do enough on this show to get a credit.
The Guardian - Flash Film Works
(Disney - 2006) - Preproduction animatics/camera virtualization, 3D modeling/animation, 2D compositing


Kevin CostnerThis ambitious movie by Andy Davis about Coast Guard rescue workers married to their jobs who brave storms at sea was almost undone by hurricane Katrina. The very type of subject of the movie!  It was set to shoot in Louisiana for tax credit reasons (Louisiana even played Alaska late in the movie). It made sense because, for once, the location was perfect and the tax breaks from the state sealed the deal. This shoot location state was not an accounting gimmick. They probably would have shot there anyway. All because various coast guard training facilities were in the area  so they didn't need to build sets and the locals could proudly be the tech advisors. It was their job after all. The studio bought a fishing boat they were going to use as the set for the climax.

Then hurricane/flood/disaster Katrina struck Louisiana in August 2005. All the Coast Guard advisors had to go out and do their job rescuing "extras." The fishing boat set was washed far inland and assumed lost. It was not found for weeks. How they located it I do not know but it was taken to Shreveport Louisiana. This tiny town had four major feature film crews there because all the productions were contractually obligated to shoot in Louisiana and it was the only place that was not trashed. They all had to shoot there or not shoot at all.

In the middle of nowhere the production even built a stunning wave tank still in use with massive walls, jet engines to move baffles, a huge fan above it all to simulate Jayhawk propeller prop wash and more. Waves could be up to 8 feet (2.5m) from top to bottom. The 750,000 gallon tank could generate multiple wave and swell effects. Experienced stuntmen could barely stand a few minutes in it. Attempting to stay in one place was pointless so imagine my problem making animatics of the sequences beforehand! Where can the cam even go? "Over the shoulder shot? Are you kidding me?"  The director sat in a soundproof booth and gave commands over headsets to his crew who shouted them at the talent through a bullhorn. The wave tank continued to surge with kinetic energy for five minutes after the jet engines were off.

They even put a massive cement "cave set" in the tank.  It even fooled me because I had not worked on the sequence. Usually when characters are in a cave with water it is shot in the studio and the water looks like a hot tub with somebody off camera splashing the surface gently. The "cave" is usually styrofoam and plaster. It cannot take a hit. Water is heavy and has a lot of kinetic energy! This set was made of stone and huge and they trashed it with waves. It would not budge. Just like the real world. Then they added more water shot after shot as the "tide" comes in bringing danger. Tick-tick-tick. A non-stone set would never absorb that much kinetic energy. I was totally fooled I thought that was a real location not Shreveport LA!
Man of the House - Flash Film Works
(Sony - 2005) - 2D compositing


Tommy Lee JonesThis Tommy Lee Jones movie is now completely forgotten and would be considered today a generic "Netflix" machine picture. Back when people physically went to the movie houses and socialized this was a bona fide studio feature! Sigh. I miss you "Siskel & Ebert"! Blockbuster Video not so much.  Nevertheless I am glad I had the opportunity to randomly work on a star vehicle IP. Now even Harrison Ford is doing streaming shows. It is not the same as going to the movies and seeing a star. I do not even know what the movies are anymore and that was before Covid!
The Last Samurai - Flash Film Works
(WB - 2003) (Uncred) - 3D animation


tom cruiseIf you like well done period pieces where another White guy comes in to save the non-White society's day then "Last Samurai" is for you. In this Tom Cruise movie (SCIENTOLOGY AGAIN!) he "Looks beyond the crew food table where the hot dogs and sushi are co-existing in peace." I was working on a scene shooting arrows at Tom Cruise and I realized "This is not fun anymore." I had issues with a co-worker and I was upset how co-worker Penny Mesa, the former accountant, had ripped off the company. For various reasons I chose to ditch the gig but I did it on the first week and explained my reasons clearly.  So, although I was told my input was sorely missed, I skipped this gig although I later reconciled with the boutique house. Nevertheless sometimes you just have to put your foot down in Hollywood however painful that may be psychologically and financially.

The movie won a VES award for outstanding supporting VFX. This was the same year the society gave George Lucas a lifetime achievement award and my co-workers got to meet him because they had not bailed on the project as I did. Oh well!  My boss commissioned a charming video called "What if George Lucas had not been born?"  The crowd, and Uncle George, loved the short subject. He later wrote back on Lucasfilm stationary "Thank you so much for the funny video. I know how much work it took to make it. I showed it to everyone at Skywalker Ranch and they loved it!" NOBODY knows more about how hard it is to make a cutting edge movie than Uncle George.
Holes - Flash Film Works
(Disney - 2003) - 3D modeling, animation and compositing


Shia LabeoufI still remember the day I was walking up the Victorian staircase at Flash and was told by my boss that "We got the movie 'Holes'!"  I said "Is this a porno film?" The book "Holes" was as influential among teens as the Harry Potter tomes were but I had not heard of its wild popularity as an adult unfamiliar with current kidlit. Potter and Holes books came out at the same time. It is also a "boys" story not a typically Disney princess story. It has a message of "care about others or face the wrath of the universe." Yet there are no explosions or silly "boys toys" clichés.

Disney was at first only going to be the distributor until they saw the quality of having the award winning writer of the book Louis Sachar on the set. It has the same character based influences that Harry Potter and The Simpsons have plus "magic realism." By FAR the best movie I have ever worked on and the best live-action film the Walt Disney Company EVER made (in my opinion which is the only one that counts with me). Nevertheless director Andy Davis wanted "Jurassic Park FX on a MacArthur Park budget!" Things like CGI landscapes and digital lizards crawling on live action people. My boss Bill Mesa was responsible for 90% of the holes in "Holes" because only 10% were practical. He was heavily pressured by the production company to cut costs or the movie could not be made. This is a common issue (see "The Terminator" Budget vs. Stan Winston). Sigourney Weaver worked for scale, almost free, because her daughter LOVED the book and insisted she play the main villain. It totally brought her to a new audience way too young to see "Aliens."

Production delays caused the movie, first scheduled to be shot in the cold CA desert months, to instead be shot in the hottest months.  Fortunately the lizards, who were wearing makeup the "hole" time, were kept cool so they would not have the energy to run away during takes. Cast and crew were not acting when the plot demanded characters get on each other's nerves. It was damn hot! Later, as per US Government demands of national park shoots, all traces of the sets and dozens of large holes dug in the park were totally erased. Tourists will never know it was ever touched. Hollywood is very good at shape shifting.

In moviemaking the "hero" version of something means the "ideal" or "canonical" thing. Thus in a series of villain character designs only one may be selected the "hero" villain. My boss Bill Mesa cracked me up when he examined photos of the practical Australian lizards and selected the "hero" lizard. "This is the hero lizard." he stated. That meant it was the one we would make a digital model of.

I felt the lizards had their straight fangs in the wrong place like a cobra. They should have had their fangs like Gila Monster lizards have: on the sides with three or four backwards facing hooks on each side. This is because, unlike cobras which stab their fangs down, Gila monsters bite and hold as the yellow spotted lizards in the movie do. I really wish I had said something but at the time I felt it was not my place. Critic Richard Roeper gave the move a "thumbs down" for issues I disagreed with. But when he complained about the lizards it was just what I was afraid critics would say. Character design and animation were not our specialty.
Adventures of Pluto Nash - Flash Film Works
(WB - 2002) - 3D modeling, animation and compositing


Eddie MurphyOne of WB's biggest flops of all time, Eddie Murphy Inc. made $18,000,000 to sleepwalk through this Canadian outsourced production. He probably spent it all on transvestite prostitutes while selling tickets to his homophobic stand up routines.  It was already the beginning of the end of big budget Hwd based shoots. My best artwork in a ho hum movie. FX movies are high budget which says "important." Comedy movies make fun of that and the cheaper the better. Monty Python's "Holy Grail" is a great example. They could not even afford horses! If it is not funny then the overbuilt FX make it worse.

Murphy was in it for the money. He just lifted the script off a dusty pile and saw it was an expensive Sci Fi flick. So he took the cash. Huge interior models of the inside of a "Las Vegas on the moon" were constructed only to sit unused because they didn't have the money to matchmove people into the shots. Imagine the Las Vegas strip in an indoor lunar mall. They built a Soviet casino entrance, a Roman Casino entrance, etc. So much wasted work and the only photos of it under construction are now missing. I wish I had scanned and copied them! It was the end of physical models in FX movies. Mostly. The funniest bits are in the trailer except for Alec Baldwin's appearance as a mobster. He was hilarious.
Collateral Damage - Flash Film Works
(WB - 2002) (Uncred) - 3D modeling, animation and compositing


Arnold SchwarzeneggerMaria Shriver, NBC journalist and wife of future governator Arnold (who I have proudly voted for) suggested pre-9/11 that this terrorist explosion story might be topical and he should say yes and greenlight it. It had been re-written for every male action guy in Hollywood to no avail. So he played "Gordy." Could they not just give him a Germanic name??? "Gunter? Gunt?" Then he  promptly gave his lines to other characters!  Eventually my boss FX super Bill Mesa told us "Now all Arnold says is 'Let's go!' In other words he knows his acting limitations and is a team player." Sadly, the river sequence I worked on was mostly cut and I am uncredited.

Even more sadly, a truck holding $400,000 of blank film being taken to the Mexican jungle set was waylaid the minute the vehicle left the airport. All the film was stolen in a potential inside job. The studio had to take the loss but, thank goodness, those banditos did not steal exposed film and hold it ransom! A funny scene occurred while shooting inside a dam in the San Fernando Valley which had all the doors closed in a long concrete hallway. LOOOONG enough to have a motorcycle chase in it which was why they were there in the first place. The stone hallway was BIG. Pyro guys set off a bunch of simultaneous flame effects that burned out instantly but caused so much increased air pressure that they blew the doors open in the dam and everyone fell down!  Everyone, and I mean everyone, forgot that HEATED AIR EXPANDS!  Another huge screw up occurred when WB, for an unknown reason, used a Sony Godzilla doll from the Japanese studio's recent reboot of that IP as the receptacle of a terrorist bomb in a WB movie. The Godzilla doll had to be painted out and replaced with a generic one which just added to the FX load. I wondered "Why not put the bomb in a Mickey Mouse doll, shoot it in Cinemascope and then just go for broke in the dept. of stupid?" 

Unfortunately this movie had too many endings. Test audiences said that they wanted a bigger ending where hero Arnold and the South American terrorist go at it better. So they added a second ending. Then 9/11 happened and Maria Shriver's prediction came all too true: terrorism was on so many people's minds.  Would audiences attend another mindless explosion terrorist action flick? This caused yet another ending to be added to the two other endings. But, despite fears, the disaster on the US east coast,the poisoning of the mail with anthrax spores, the grounding of airplanes, did not affect ticket sales in any real way when the movie hit theaters. This was seen as an indicator of the American public's brand new post-9/11 mindset. Sadly, there was one true injury when someone fell three stories through a multi-stage elevator shaft set.
Red Planet - Flash Film Works
(WB - 2000) - 3D modeling, animation and compositing


Val KilmerThis massively expensive WB flop has great segments always involving VFX action. Star and horrible, horrible person Val Kilmer and another actor got into a fight and refused to appear in scenes together afterward. This caused the talent to be composited together from different shoots just for the same sequence. This added to extra FX shots that an already FX heavy movie groaned to accommodate. Plus, the script was desperate for excuses for conflict, as if surviving on Mars was not "man v. environment" enough. So the movie called for one astronaut to go astro"nut" and kill a co-worker. Therefore NASA refused to be involved and the production had no access to their trove of images and data on the red planet aka MARS.

This was a very hard production to work on firstly because Digital Domain totally botched their job and the small boutique house I worked at had to carry extra loads. Selfish actress Carrie Ann Moss refused to do a topless "getting out of the shower for no reason" scene without having pasties on her nipples. "No looking at my nipples in a movie I am doing just for the cash!" Then super sexy fantabulist looking babster CGI artist Dawn Brooks Macleod had to re-add the wet nipples and breast. It was pointlessly hard. Dawn later complained that Moss would not go topless for a second but she spent the whole movie in a white tanktop so thin you could see her nipples bulging through it!

Another shot Moss botched involved her refusing to wait to be uncoupled from wire rigs. We had to paint out a wire shadow over her face in a shot that was almost completely saturated blue. It was very hard to do in a small color space. This kind of petty obnoxiousness just drags a production down right at the end. But she was nothing compared to Kilmer. Why is he still working? For me the villain was the math between logarithmic and linear color spaces. The tech was not as it is today and I remember spending one day animating the shot and two days trying to color convert it correctly! Complex math operations are not my forte.

Johnny Mesa told me "I hated this movie this most in of all my decades of filmmaking." He had to do a shot where Carrie Ann Moss was a diva and she refused to wait for wires to be removed from her costume. So in the take there was a shadow of a wire on her face. He had to take that out in an image almost pure blue with no other color values to go on. Editorial was incompetent on this movie as they should have just dumped the shot and let the artist move on to make other shots, more prominent shots, better.
Deep Blue Sea - Flash Film Works
(WB - 1999) - 3D model supervisor, 3D animator


monster sharksThe good news is that I had barely been in Hollywood two years and already I was working on my first big budget studio feature! The bad news is that I was only getting paid $8/hour. My boss really liked the the models I built and so he said "I'm going to raise you two."  I said "You are going to raise me TO what?"  "No I'm going to give you a $2 raise! Now you make ten dollars an hour!"  This may seem like the massive underpayment that it is. But who cares? I was being paid something, ANYTHING, to work on a studio feature and my stuff was all on screen. This is far superior to the usual route to Hwd: spend thousands on film school and your education produces nothing but student loan payments.

In 1998 digital sets were a rarity and nobody made any plans to give me anything other than a bad fax to create an enormous CGI set which had to match the Aquatica set shot in the "Titanic" tank in Rosarita Mexico.  Today the whole set would have been cyberscanned by LIDAR but, at the time, there was no documentation or plans or elevations for me to scan in and extrude. If co-workers had not rushed to the set and photographed the blown up version of it being DISMANTLED I would have had no textures to digitize or plans whatsoever.  Fortunately the geometry was very easy to model and skin with the limited texture images I was given.

Not so easy to deal with was horrible, horrible person the movie director Rennie Harlin. This glorified second unit guy has a tin ear for dialogue and has been nominated for a stunning SIX RAZZIE awards so far.  Why is he still working? He is famous for destroying Carolco Pictures with the flop movie "Cutthroat Island."  He also married actress Gina Davis, knocked up her assistant Tiffany Browne, and then divorced Davis and married Brown!  This after he destroyed Davis' fine comedy/drama acting career by casting her as an action movie star.  I was told she was tall and lanky and could not walk across the room without falling all over herself. And Harlin wanted her to be an action star! FX super Jeff Okun suffered a career capping humiliation on set before cast and crew.  For no reason Harlin excoriated him over nothing to make an example of him. It still pains Okun to discuss it. Head of our editorial dept. Lincoln Kupchak sent Harlin various files that ended in ".fin" which Lincoln said meant that they were "finished." Instead the director attacked this lowly worker saying "Why are these called 'period FIN' are you mocking my Finnish heritage?" The line is funnier when you say it in a Finnish accent.

FUN FACT:  LL Cool J was saddled with a bunch of crummy, wooden dialogue. But he improvised a lot to get around it and test audiences liked his urban hipster act so much that the ending was re-written so that his character lived! You can practically see the moments in the script where he has to almost break urban hipster character just to go back to the wooden exposition speeches he was handed.
Deep End of the Ocean - Flash Film Works
(Columbia Pictures/Sony - 1999) - 3D modeling and animation


Michelle PfeifferThis Michelle Pfeiffer tear jerker featured an underwater dream sequence which didn't really fit the tone of a realistic movie about a lost child. Pfeiffer spent days hanging on wires in front of blue screens while her fluffy dress was blown up in the air like an undersea Marilyn Monroe in "Some Like It Hot." This is called "dry for wet."  Despite all the animation work involving caustics, fish and lush coral backgrounds the sequence was eventually cut. The weird photorealistic creation of a dream sequence within a photorealistic movie just did not work. Perhaps if they had cut to a shimmery B&W dreamier, vague, more abstract thing it might have been acceptable editorially. However they did not have enough vision for that. A common problem among movie directors. Many directors come from a theater background which is all about performance. They lack a purely visual sense.
Leah Remini: Scientology & The Aftermath - Intellectual Property Corp.Emmy Award winnerEmmy Award winner
(A&E/Disney - 2016-2019) - Risked arrest to provide one of a kind photos/videos of cult prison compounds


remini: scientology and the aftermath(SCIENTOLOGY AGAIN!) This multi-Emmy winning show exposing the Church benefited greatly from my input. My decade of Scientology watching paid off for the production because I gave them various critical photos of the cult's concentration camps available from nobody else. These were recorded at considerable personal risk to myself and I have been arrested on filmsy charges many times. I also turned them on to a fellow Anon (member of Anonymous) "Angry Thetan." This person was bold enough to fly a drone over almost all rural Scientology bases and put the 4K record in the public domain. This let them use the mystery person's lovely aerial footage as voiceover fill for a surprising amount of some episodes.

The best moment was when they cut from the Great Leader David Miscavige's father discussing the horrible conditions at one of the camps. Then they show my very famous photo of their barbed wire ultra barrier fences at that very camp. I can just see the Great Leader screaming at the television! He hates me sooo much! Oh well!

Unfortunately they had to waste so much money on unneeded lawyers (out of fear) that they had nothing left for re-enactments. Worse, the Church set up a crisis center not far from where the production company was editing the show in order to pressure and harass them. This could include following the editors home, accosting them in a parking lots, creating hate pages on them, etc.
Jane The Virgin - Flash Film Works
(CW Net - 2017-2018) - 3D modeling, animation and compositing


jane the virgin season 5 posterThe movie "Holes" looked realistic but was really magic realism in the service of the message of love. "Jane" is more fanciful and light and Latina in its magic realism. This deliberately flexibly abstract show featured various fun things to animate like termites swarming a fallen wooden chandelier, flying book pages circling the lead actress and floating rose petals for romance sequences. I also liked that it promoted a comic Latin sensibility and an emphasis on literacy. Best of all, her sexy bodybuilder boyfriend was always taking his shirt off a lot. "I hate taking my shirt off in this show." said the actor. "I feel like my muscles are not big enough!" Uh huh.
The Pacific - Flash Film Works
(Dreamworks/HBO - 2010) - 3D modeling, animation and compositing
Emmy Award winnerves Award winner

HBO miniseriesThis WW II (HITLER AGAIN!) mega production actually shipped in black volcanic sand to Australia to shoot on a massive white beachfront set to sim a volcanically created Pacific island coast. It was a Spielberg/Tom Hanks production so very high class! It would have been even classier if Hank's production company had paid its contractors on time instead of sitting on the money to earn interest, but oh well. Most trusted man in America my ass Tom Hanks! (He probably didn't know it was happening).

The team I was on did mostly water/land invasion interactions. A massive endless carnage shot ended up earning the team a VES award as well as an Emmy. A lot of it was the work of Jeremy Nelson. I found the whole project tedious. When I was not uprezzing high quality video game ships and was dealing with the ridiculous color demands of the production. In order to get a look of "early color photography" at the end of the pipeline we were given weirdly colored aqua background plates. I called it the "Blue Plate Special."  I had to match my authentically colored objects to the stupid false color palette. I hated it. Even worse, I had to hand animate tons of tracer fire. The kind of animations video games do automatically at the click of a mouse.

Unfortunately the first episode had dramatic problems and you can't just re-arrange episodes and put Pearl Harbor at the end like on some limited series. It had to be chronological. This is history. But this caused delays so the FX super had nothing but time on his hands to nitpick every one of my tracer fires and everything else. Groan. Every time I had to make another pass of a shot my boss did not make more money. It cost him revenue because I could have been working on something else.  Nevertheless HITLER is the gift that keeps on giving if you want to get paid to animate WW II games and movies!
The Robinsons: Lost In Space Pilot - Zoic Studios
(Sci Fi Channel - Unaired, John Woo Dir.) - 3D modeling, animation and compositing


Lost In Space PilotThis tired IP never went anywhere.  It was later resurrected on NetFlix. Of course. Nevertheless Zoic was a fun place to work at the time. If it had been a success then the director, John Woo, would have made money off of the whole series because he helped birth the pilot. I never thought much of Woo's work and the clips I saw showed it. It was really cheap for a Sci Fi show (but not for the Sci Fi Channel. They were really, really cheap).
Birds of Prey - Flash Film Works
(WB - Pilot - 2003) - 3D modeling, animation and compositing


Batman WBThe WB network spent all their budget on the pilot for this DC Comics IP brand extension so there was nothing left for the show itself.  I've never seen a single shot of mine (the very long opening credits one) ping ponged and re-used so much in later episodes! Unfortunately everyone agreed with the New York Times that "It makes Batman look like a deadbeat dad." It was later re-booted in HD (of course). The endless glut of superhero IPs continues.
Xena Warrior Princess - Flat Earth Productions
(Renaissance Pictures - 1998) - 3D modeling and animation


Lucy LawlessWorking on Xena episodes was really fun especially as a Gay man and new in town. "Gabby" and "Xena the warrior princess" are total Lesbo icons.  I animated shots where Xena goes to the Orient and Xena is a Skeleton. These plots were inspired by attempts to hide a pregnancy.  Lead Lucy Lawless was actually with child at the time because she had married the producer. I worked on the episode entitled "Xena goes to China during a commercial break while pregnant." Something that took un-pregnant male explorer Marco Polo HALF HIS VENETIAN LIFE. The basic goal was to hide the talent's tummy under kimonos and other tent shaped costumes. I made Fireworks fun and animated her chakram!

The best episode I helped on was when Xena's baby is kidnapped into a netherworld in "Them Bones Them Bones."  Every time ratings were down they turned to CGI. Here lead Lucy Lawless as Xena had to fight but she was SOOO pregnant. What to do? Shell out for animation and also up ratings of course! So we did it with Lesbian looking stuntwomen wearing hilarious ping pong balls and then the character animators got to work hand matchmoving to the Lesbian's big white balls. Unfortunately the 3D software at this time (1998) was not really up to it and made character animation difficult. BUT I got to work with Don Waller who did the Gallimimus stampede on Jurassic Park. He had cool stories!
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys - Flat Earth Productions
(Renaissance Pictures ' 1998) - 3D modeling and animation


kevin sorboOh look they hire a Gay animator to work on a Hercules IP!  Yes!  I wish Kevin Sorbo, the star, didn't later become an aggressively Homophobic Christian. Plus his muscles could have been larger. No real tall guy bodybuilder he! Sorbo was portraying Hercules after all. Oh well work is work! I was also animating the Xena show simultaneously.

The compositors on both shows were really over their young heads and were not really led artistically. "The script says it should be a red light so just do it and move on, etc." They used Adobe AfterFX, which at the time was not well regarded. They made video game style transition things in an ancient times genre mythological show. Oh well. The problem is that on a production line like this if you want to ask the director a question then they have already gone on to the next episode or the next after that. And the director is in New Zealand! On a studio feature if you have a question then the system gets back to editorial and then back to you.
Eventually the entire syndicated TV model evaporated as the Internet/Streaming model moved in.
The live action show was recorded on film in high definition in New Zealand. But CGI VFX were so expensive that the big deal shots were only recorded in 720x480 in San Fernando CA. Even at the time I wondered "How are they going to marry the inevitable transition from NTSC to HD to insure a long term visual value to this IP?"
Onstar/Batman Series - Flash Film Works
Batcave, Minor Setbacks, Joker Face, Hot Date, Riddle Me This
(2001) - 3D modeling and animation


onstar logoIn a triple conjunction between OnStar, WB and DC Comics a series of Batman themed ads were planned. The execution was a big deal on the WB back lot. In typical Hwd fashion we were already overworked on a movie. This meant my boss Bill Mesa, the FX super, was distracted by other daytime things. When he had to direct the dangerous FX for these sequences late through the night his wife Penny Mesa rightly demanded a driver. Like her I was afraid he might fall asleep at the wheel from overwork! This had actually happened recently in 1998 on the FX heavy movie "Pleasantville."

Shots where the bat cave appears were lensed in the Spruce Goose hanger in Long Beach CA. That is where WB kept the set parts.

A stuntman got his nose broken when an air bag went off in his face. But he ended up not caring because the residuals on his appearing in this ad made so much money that he retired and bought a house in Hawaii!  The spot "Minor Setbacks" won a Detroit Creative Directors "Caddy Award" for the year 2000. We each received this really ugly, cheap looking thing which features a ceramic grey car sitting on an actual engine piston with a plaque built in. This nameplate later fell off when I cleaned it. I really need to re-glue it. Nevertheless I appreciate the thought!
Black Dawn PS1 helicopter sim - Black Ops Entertainment
(Virgin Interactive 1996) - 3D modeling, 3D texturing, 2D texturing, 2D animation, level design, UI prototyping


black dawn playstation 1 video game helicopter simThis PS1 game company was featured on the cover of Computer Graphics World magazine and then I got a job with them and moved from Ohio to LA. It was the most important moment of my adult life because I had finally made it to LA LA land with next to no help from my family. As a Gay man working for two incredibly good looking Italian computer programmers was an Ohio boy's dream come true.  The hourly wage was not much but they paid for the move entirely including temporary housing and a rental car.  I knew that I would probably not be working at the best place because there were plenty of people in LA who could have done the simple work I was tasked to do. I assumed that the first place I finally got hired at (after sending out 80 demo tapes) might have a revolving door.  I did not realize how awful working in video games is because the boss John Botti was an almost autisticly cold person who only understood machines and especially loved machines that kill people. His favorite color? Black of course. Black in the company name, black in his clothes, his hair, his car, etc.

He and his twin brother Will Botti (who was even better looking and much more approachable) were VGL MIT graduates but they had absolutely no idea how to run a company or make something creative on their own. MIT only teaches you how to sit at a computer learning the tech of the time not how to run a company with human workers.  Eventually they ran out of paid projects and had too many employees. I was fired for "writing in my checkbook on company time." Fortunately Botti told me he would not hold me liable for the transition fees the company had given me for moving, temporary housing, temporary storage etc.

My firing was objected to by the HR and business lady Rita Mines and caused morale to plummet further and there was eventually furniture thrown in meetings because the employees were so frustrated.  I encouraged this by giving personnel phone numbers to recruiters who kept calling and calling them! Soon all calls had to be pre-screened. I also had to fight before a judge to get the paltry unemployment benefits I was denied because I was fired.  John Botti never worked in games again due to his bad rep yet he keeps the website for Black Ops up with the non-existent business address. The game Black Dawn is fun but very dated looking of course.

A videogame product looks old fashioned the moment it is released. Interactive products have a short shelf life unlike Disney's forever conserved and re-distributed movie "Holes." Plus the average length of a career in video games is five years due to burnout, Homophobia, sexism, fratboy atmosphere, overwork, lack of time off and inability to unionize.

EDUCATION/SPECIAL SKILLS

BA in English from Indiana University of PA, Indiana PA 1988. Communications minor. Typing speed: 80 wpm. Computer Doctor.