Formed in 1975, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), a division of the production company Lucasfilm, has been a major player in the realm of visual effects. From what was shown off in the first three Star Wars movies to the game-changing work done on Jurassic Park, if you’ve watched an effects-heavy blockbuster from the last several decades, there’s a decent chance that ILM worked on it in some form or fashion. For Lynwen Brennan, executive vice president and general manager of Lucasfilm, she sees the George Clooney-led The Perfect Storm as a movie that wasn’t just important for the company, but VFX history overall.
I had the opportunity to speak with Lynwen Brennan as part of the press event for the docuseries Light & Magic, which explores ILM’s origins and its impact on the film industry., and can be watched in its entirety with a Disney+ subscription now. During our chat, I asked Brennan what she considered to be ILM’s greatest technical achievement, whether that be a character, creature, ship or simply a general effect. She started off by saying the following:
If you’re unfamiliar with The Perfect Storm, the movie (which some might consider to be one of George Clooney’s best) was based off of the real-life story of the Andrea Gail, a commercial fishing ship that was lost at sea during the 1991 Perfect Storm. Naturally since one can’t recreate such conditions in real life, it was up to the minds at Lucasfilm to convincingly bring to life that violent water in a digital setting, and make it work with the footage shot by director Wolfgang Peterson and his team.Along with George Clooney, The Perfect Storm’s ensemble cast included Mark Wahlberg, John C. Reilly, Dian Lane and William Fichtner, The Perfect Storm was one of six movies released in 2000 that ILM worked on, the others being Mission to Mars, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Space Cowboys, Pollock And Pay It Forward.
More than two decades after The Perfect Storm’s release Lynwen Brennan is still impressed with how well the digital water turned out in the movie, but that isn’t all she had to say about the ILM achievements that stick in her head. She continued:
StageCraft is the on-set virtual production technology comprised of video walls that was initially developed for the Star Wars series The Mandalorian, and has since been used on productions not only set in a galaxy far, far away, but also Marvel movies like Thor: Love and Thunder and the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and DC movies like The Batman and the upcoming Black Adam. These facilities, a.k.a. “volumes,” have already made waves (to borrow from The Perfect Storm) in the visual effects industry, and even known how StageCraft came together, Lynwen Brennan continues to be astounded by just what this technology can do.
The next Lucasfilm production coming up is the Star Wars series Andor, and upcoming 2022 movies that feature ILM’s work include Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way for Water. For all the latest on film and TV happenings, keep your eyes peeled on CinemaBlend.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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