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Hollywood's Makeup & Visual Effects Community Celebrates The 100th Birthday of Oscar-Winning Makeup FX Legend Dick Smith
- Tuesday, Jun. 28, 2022
The Creation of the "Dick Smith Scholarship" Announced
A gathering of Special & Visual FX notables - including several Oscar® and Emmy® Award winners - assembled in Hollywood to commemorate the 100th birthday of Oscar®-winning Makeup and FX legend Dick Smith. Multi-award winning FX artist Todd Masters, founder of MastersFX, teamed up with the Visual Effects Society to present the special event in honor of the late FX innovator.
“Dick Smith was truly one of a kind. An artist, an engineer, a designer, teacher, makeup innovator and FX alchemist,” said Mr. Masters. “He blazed the trail for the rest of us in the FX industry. And in many cases, he gave us his first-hand knowledge and even a first job! We felt compelled to celebrate his milestone birthday - to send him love and keep his memory alive… and to re-amplify his genius within the FX community.”
Oscar-winner, Doug Drexler (Dick Tracy,) added this about his old friend and mentor: “Dick Smith changed my life, not just as an artist, but as a human being. He was my friend, workmate, mentor, and partner in irreverence. He always had time, never kept secrets, and shaped my life. He inspired and started many on their way. Yet if someone put us all together, we would not equal one Dick Smith.”
The celebration - which drew 250 “VIPS, Legends and Geniuses” from the makeup and FX industries - to the Harmony Gold Theater on Sunset Blvd. The event was held on June 26th – the exact date of what would have been Dick Smith’s 100th birthday. Mr. Smith passed away in 2014.
In honor of Dick Smith’s Centennial Birthday, Mr. Masters announced the launch of the “Dick Smith Scholarship” - a scholarship currently being created to honor Mr. Smith’s lifelong artistic endeavors. The new scholarshipill be presented annually to financially assist young, emerging artists and innovators, so they may carry on Mr. Smith’s passion for the development of the Practical FX Arts and Sciences.
During the Dick Smith Centennial event, Mr. Masters introduced Craig Reardon, a makeup artist and a lifelong friend of Smith’s. Onstage, Mr. Reardon read a 1962 letter from Dick Smith to a then 14-year-old Reardon - this was their very first correspondence. That inspiring, 60-year-old letter helped Mr. Reardon launch his career. Mr. Reardon then helped to introduce a screening of the film Altered States - a 1980’s movie on which Mr. Reardon was Dick Smith’s makeup FX assistant.
“Dick Smith was like no one I'd ever met nor will ever meet again,” Reardon said. “He was an elemental personality--irreducible, unique. The reason we revere his work is the same reason we revere him as a man. He believed in himself and followed his own mind and heart. There is not merely everything to learn from his work, there is everything to learn from how he led his life and treated other people. He was a great, great man.”
Mr. Reardon’s experiences with Dick Smith inspired his own award-winning career of monster and makeup FX. Craig Reardon went on to supervise many of his own projects, which included the original Poltergeist, the John Hughes classic, Weird Science, and Dreamscape.
After the Altered States screening ended, three additional members of that film’s FX team joined forces onstage for a Q & A. These members were: Visual Effects Supervisor Bran Ferren, Special FX Supervisor Kevin Pike, and Makeup Artist Kevin Haney.
Regarding his work with Dick Smith, Mr. Haney said, “Dick Smith was an amazing artist, innovator, and all around great human being. He brought me to New York from Ohio to work with him on Altered States, and that experience jump-started an incredible journey in makeup. Dick became my mentor and a very close friend, and it was great to celebrate his 100th.” Mr. Haney shared the 1989 Academy Award for Best Makeup for the film Driving Miss Daisy. He is also known for his work on The Shawshank Redemption, The X-Files, Planet of the Apes, Iron Man 3, and many others.
Special FX Supervisor Kevin Pike worked on the FX for Altered States. While he is best known for supervising the special effects of the 1985 film Back to the Future, his resume also includes FX work on Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Jurassic Park III.
Bran Ferren, the VFX Supervisor on Altered States, was the former president of research and development and creative technology for Walt Disney. His work on the films Altered States and Little Shop of Horrors preceded his work as a lead Imagineer at Disney. He has also provided design for Broadway shows, World’s Fairs, theme park attractions and rock ‘n roll tours. Bran is the recipient of a Technical Achievement Award from the Motion Picture Academy, and was Oscar® nominated in1987 for his work
At the close of the Dick Smith Centennial event, Doug Drexler concluded: “Ultimately, each of us is a reflection of the people we touch along the way. Dick's legacy is vast. Through all of us, and especially those who worked alongside him, he lives on, and he lives through the magic that we are fortunate to be able to create today. Each of us must live a little stronger, bolder, smarter, funnier, and more altruistically, in our attempts to take up the inestimable slack that he left in his stead.”
About DICK SMITH
Richard Emerson Smith (June 26, 1922 – July 30, 2014) was an American special make-up effects artist and author, (nicknamed "The Godfather of Make-Up") known for his work on such iconic films as Little Big Man, The Godfather, The Exorcist, Taxi Driver, Scanners, Altered States and Death Becomes Her.
About The Visual Effects Society
The Visual Effects Society (VES) is a global professional honorary society and the entertainment industry’s only organization representing the full breadth of visual effects practitioners. VES’ more than 4,200 members in over 40 countries worldwide contribute to all areas of entertainment – film, television, commercials, animation, special venue, games and new media.
For 35 years, MASTERSFX's creative teams have produced a distinctive blend of practical and digital makeup FX, prosthetics and animatronics, through a process called “dMFX,” for hundreds of hit feature films, TV shows, and commercials.
Recent MastersFX projects have included Corrective Measures, Firestarter, Day of the Dead and Psycho Goreman. The company is currently in production on: Monster High for Nickelodeon; the monster feature The Pishach; the ABC series The Good Doctor; and the hit TV shows DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Nancy Drew and Charmed.