Behind The Scenes Stories

20 years in Hollywood

Neat Stories To Tell

Seen Some Shit!

From David DeFino

Top Secret

During my time doing special effects and miniatures I worked on a lot of projects that I am not really allowed to talk about. Most of these were not “Top Secret” classified things (although some were).  Most were just corporate videos. For some reason those big corporations are more paranoid then anything you have ever seen. In most cases, I wasn't even allowed to see the finished product because of “Trade Secrets” even though I had read the script (and in some cases still have it.).

 

One such project I did in the Winter of 1998. I was working for Gene Young Effects at the time, but he closed down for the holidays. I had no place to go, and very little money, so I looked for a holiday gig. I found it in an Industrial film being done for a very large corporation. I won't the company, and I've taken the liberty of blurring out anything that can be linked to them in the photos.

 

This project was an internal training video. However, it was to be done in the style of “The Thunderbirds”. Yes, Puppets and miniatures... for a corporate training video. The Project was being headed by Michael Burnett. Yes the same guy that did the stop motion in Evil Dead, and Aliens! (I have to admit, I didn't even know the power lifter was stop motion until Michael told me he did it, and then I went home and watched it again).

It was inspiring to work with Michael Burnett. He was a very cool guy. Even under the stress of this exhausting shoot. We had a small window of time in which to do a very ambitious project. I had many nights of 1-2 hours sleep if any at all. If I remember correctly, we even worked on Christmas Day (and Michael had a Turkey Dinner for us).

 

I never saw the finished product. I never saw anything more about this after we wrapped. That is just the way it goes in this business.

 

While working at Gene Young Effects I also did several projects for the USAF, JPL, and NASA. These tended to be things like: We would make the miniature version of the satellite that was being launched that would sit on the podium while the guy from NASA would tell reporters what it did.

 

One of the earlier projects I did while working for Gene Young Effects were a pair of gigantic (¼ scale) F-15 fighter jets. These were made to sit in front of an Air-force base somewhere, and had to be strong... We sculpted this thing from foam, made a fiberglass mold, and then 2 pulls from the mold. These guys were massive.