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Richard Edlund

Richard Edlund

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: December 6, 1940 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Fargo, North Dakota, USA Profession: special effects producer, visual effects supervisor, visual effects designer, inventor, executive, producer, visual effects photographer, director of photography, letter designer, cable car driver, photographer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A true pioneer in the age of modern-day special effects, Richard Edlund oversaw the creation of visuals that defined fantasy/sci-fi films for a generation of moviegoers, including the original "Star Wars" (1977) and its sequels "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "Return of the Jedi" (1983), as well as "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) "Poltergeist" (1982) and "Ghostbusters" (1984). Edlund helped build George Lucas' legendary Industrial Light and Magic effects company from the ground up, before moving on and opening his own effects company, Boss Film Studios. A photographer at heart who began his career shooting primitive rock videos with a 16mm camera outside of Los Angeles, Edlund was at the very forefront of a wave of artists who pushed traditional optical effects to their zenith before the arrival of computer-generated imagery. While his films varied, Edlund's work was often characterized by crisp, cool clarity of image, as evidenced by his work on slick blockbusters like "Die Hard" (1987) and "Ghost" (1990). A multiple Academy Award winner, Edlund remained active on several committees and advisory boards, and was honored by the American Society of Cinematographers. For true fanboys and girls of...

A true pioneer in the age of modern-day special effects, Richard Edlund oversaw the creation of visuals that defined fantasy/sci-fi films for a generation of moviegoers, including the original "Star Wars" (1977) and its sequels "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "Return of the Jedi" (1983), as well as "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) "Poltergeist" (1982) and "Ghostbusters" (1984). Edlund helped build George Lucas' legendary Industrial Light and Magic effects company from the ground up, before moving on and opening his own effects company, Boss Film Studios. A photographer at heart who began his career shooting primitive rock videos with a 16mm camera outside of Los Angeles, Edlund was at the very forefront of a wave of artists who pushed traditional optical effects to their zenith before the arrival of computer-generated imagery. While his films varied, Edlund's work was often characterized by crisp, cool clarity of image, as evidenced by his work on slick blockbusters like "Die Hard" (1987) and "Ghost" (1990). A multiple Academy Award winner, Edlund remained active on several committees and advisory boards, and was honored by the American Society of Cinematographers. For true fanboys and girls of a certain age who devoured every issue of Starlog and Cinefantastique throughout the 1970s and '80s, the name Richard Edlund was well known and well regarded as one of the premier visual effects masters of all time.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
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Milestones close milestones

:
Relocated from Fargo, North Dakota, to Los Angeles where he was raised
:
Developed an interest in photography
:
Took high school sports photos; had some printed in the <i>Los Angeles Examiner</i> at age 15
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Joined the US Navy after graduating high school
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Became interested in film during the two years he served in Japan
:
Produced training films in the Navy
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Steered to attend the USC School of Cinema by a marine staff sergeant he knew in the Fleet Air Photo Lab
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After film school, referred by the Hollywood unemployment office to a job with a small optical effects firm run by Joe Westheimer, ASC; met many of the great cinematographers
1968:
Dropped out of Hollywood
:
Took still photos of rock bands (including many album covers)
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Made small experimental films
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Invented and sold a portable amplifier called "Pignose" that was used by many guitarists
1973:
Returned to Hollywood to work for Bob Abel who was then pioneering visual effects for commercials
1975:
Recruited by George Lucas and special effects supervisor John Dykstra as first cameraman on the special FX unit of "Star Wars"; became a founder of Industrial Light and Magic
1977:
Feature debut, credited with miniature photography and optical effects, "Star Wars", also first association with George Lucas
1978:
First credit for special effects photography, "Battlestar Galactica"
1980:
Credit for special visual effects, "The Empire Strikes Back"
1981:
Served as visual effects supervisor, "Raiders of the Lost Ark"
1983:
Left Industrial Light and Magic
1983:
Worked as a designer with Entertainment Effects
1983:
Founded special FX company, Boss Films Studios; in addition to being president and CEO, served as producer and designer
1989:
Debut as director of photography (special water unit), "Farewell to the King"
:
Worked on the HBO series "Tales From the Crypt" in varying capacities including visual effects, segment producer (opening sequence) and production designer (opening sequence)
1988:
Gave a series of technical lectures in China and Japan under the sponsorship of Eastman Kodak
1990:
Credited as visual effects supervisor on "Ghost", first film for Boss Film Studios
1990:
Debut as a producer, also provided special effects, "Solar Crisis", a Japanese sci-fi thriller
1995:
Credited as producer of the opening sequence of "Tales From the Crypt Presents Demon Knight"
1997:
Supervised the special effects on "Air Force One"
1997:
In August, announced closing of Boss Film Studios
2000:
Served as visual effects supervior on the remake of "Bedazzled"
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Education

US Naval Photographic School: -
University of Southern California: Los Angeles , California - 1961 - 1963

Notes

An ardent student of Japanese culture, Edlund speaks Japanese and has an extensive collection of books on Japan's history, culture and art.

Edlund was honored by Toronto's 1986 Festival of Festivals as part of a "mini-tribute" entitled "Close Encounters" which included film clips and a 30-40 minute question-and-answer session.

"If you look at the 10 top box-office successes of all time. . . you'll see that about seven or eight of them are visual effects movies. We've been able to create environments and battlegrounds and put the audience in places they never could be. There's really nothing under the sun or in the mind that once thought of can't be put on the screen. We're beyond the renaissance in visual effects. In "Star Wars" we built a violin and we had to learn how to play it. We started with scales. Now we're playing concerti."--Edlund in a 1986 NEW YORK TIMES interview.

"In general terms, computer-generated imagery is the new tool in the tool box. It's not going to supplant everything we have; it's a welcome addition that makes possible a great deal of image manipulability that would otherwise be extremely complicated. . . . We're still using matte paintings like Georges Melies did in 1900, and we're still using rubber for special makeups and, in some cases, traditional optical effects. All these things combine to give us more flexibility to satisfy the seemingly insatiable appetite our audience has." --Richard Edlund quoted in THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 1990 Commercial Production Report, November 13, 1990

"I'm a real believer in not wanting the audience to be aware of an effect. To do that, my first choice would be to create the effect in-camera, even if it makes the shoot more complex. If that doesn't work, we divide it up into elements that can be composited digitally. It might sound pedestrian, but effects that are obvious are a dead giveaway because of the lighting. We pride ourselves on trying to make the lighting interactive. In a nutshell, that's the secret of a really great effect--matching the lighting on different pieces of film." --Richard Edlund quoted in THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 1990 Commercial Production Report, November 13, 1990

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