VFX Wiz Richard Edlund, ASC will receive the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Presidents Award in recognition of his filmmaking contributions during the 22nd Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards celebration at the Hollywood & Highland Grand Ballroom on Jan. 26, 2008.
Edlund has earned four Academy Awards for his visual effects work on STAR WARS (1977), THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980), RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) and RETURN OF THE JEDI (1984), and six additional nominations for POLTERGEIST, 2010, GHOSTBUSTERS, POLTERGEIST II: THE OTHER SIDE, DIE HARD and ALIEN 3. He has also earned three Scientific and Engineering Awards. Earlier this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented the coveted John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation to Edlund in recognition of his significant contributions to the Academy.
"Richard Edlund has made an indelible impression on the art and craft of filmmaking," said Russ Alsobrook, ASC, chairman of the organization's Awards Committee. "He is an innovative artist who has created magical visual effects for many memorable motion pictures."
Edlund has also earned an Emmy for creating visual effects for the original television miniseries BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978), and an additional nomination for Mike Nichols' ANGELS IN AMERICA (2003). He has created seamless visual effects for such memorable films as FRIGHT NIGHT, SOLARBABIES, GHOST, SPECIES, MULTIPLICITY and AIR FORCE ONE.
"Richard Edlund is an ASC member who continues to contribute to the progress of visual effects from purely photographic methods to today's digital techniques," added ASC President Daryn Okada. "He uses his cinematographer's eye in the creation of his work."
Edlund joins a diverse and distinguished group of recipients of the ASC Presidents Award. They include actor Robert Duvall; vfx pioneers Linwood Dunn, ASC, Hans F. Koenekamp, ASC, Douglas Trumbull and Howard Anderson Jr., ASC; Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown; Panavision camera designers Tak Miyagishima and Albert Mayer Sr.; documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles; archivist and ASC historian Kemp Niver; and cinematographers William Clothier, ASC, Charles Wheeler, ASC, Guy Green, BSC, Ralph Woolsey, ASC, Richard Moore, ASC, Woody Omens, ASC and Gerald Hirschfeld, ASC.
Edlund enrolled at the University of Southern California (USC) film school upon completing his tour of duty in 1961 in the U.S. Navy. After graduation, he went to work for Joe Westheimer, ASC, a pioneer in the visual effects industry who ran The Westheimer Co., an optical house that provided visual effects services.
In 1968, Edlund became a rock-and-roll photographer, shooting many groups for publicity and posters, including at least 15 record album covers. Then Robert Abel lured Edlund back to Los Angeles in 1973 to work with him while he was pioneering the use of motion control technology to create television commercials.
Two years later, John Dykstra recruited Edlund to join the special effects team that he was assembling for a new special effects company called Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). Their mission was to create visual effects for STAR WARS.
"I remember reading the words 'trust in the force' in the script for the first time, and trying to visualize how we could help George make the audience feel what that meant," Edlund recalled. "It was like learning to think in a new language with infinite possibilities. I learned there aren't any unbreakable rules. You have to trust your instincts. That's what makes it an art."
Edlund subsequently moved with ILM to Marin County in Northern California. He was supervisor of visual effects for the next two STARS WARS films and on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and POLTERGEIST. He decided to move back to Los Angeles and met Doug Trumbull, who had established Entertainment Effects Group (EEG), a cutting-edge visual effects company in Marina del Rey. Trumbull was ready to move on to another venture. Edlund agreed to take over, and completely rebuilt the 65mm visual effects facility and subsequently renamed it Boss Film Studios. The new facility pioneered the evolution of hybrid visual effects in 2010 by integrating digital images of Jupiter taken by NASA into a scene of a spaceship approaching the planet.
Under Edlund's leadership, Boss Films Studios created visual effects for another 40 major motion pictures through 1997, including LEGAL EAGLES, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, CLIFFHANGER, BATMAN RETURNS, LAST ACTION HERO, WATERWORLD, HEAT and STARSHIP TROOPERS. Currently, Edlund is working again with Nichols on CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR, which is slated for release in December.
The ASC was chartered in 1919. The primary purpose of the organization is to advance the art and craft of filmmaking.There are some 290 members today with roots in many different countries, and 150 associate members who work in ancillary sectors of the industry. For more information on the ASC Awards, visit www.theasc.com.