Phil Tippett, VES

[ 00:00:19 ] Well when I was very young about around five years old the 1933 production of King Kong came on television and I had no idea what I was looking at but I was fascinated by all of you know big monkey dinosaurs around that time.

[ 00:00:38 ] Life magazine came out with a series called Life through time where they printed a bunch of murals in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Natural History Museum of dinosaurs. So I got kind of looked like that because like little boys tend to like they go to light trucks and tractors or like monsters and dinosaurs so I went that way. And then in 19 58 when I was about seven years old the movie called some footage of Sinbad came out that had creatures that were down. I had no idea how Ray Harryhausen. So he spent the next I don't know how many years just trying to figure out you know how to do that kind of stuff and eventually did and met people that knew more than I did and eventually got hired in Hollywood and worked on commercials.

[ 00:01:33 ] And then met George Lucas and you know just went on and on there was always a lot of technology.

[ 00:01:49 ] I mean it was always always the cutting edge of technology.

[ 00:01:52 ] You know that changes you know roughly every five to 10 years. But you know it's you know you are always looking to graduate.

[ 00:02:01 ] I started with an eight millimeter camera and then graduated to a 16 ometer camera and then a 35 millimeter camera. And then you start working for these places that have more resources.

[ 00:02:14 ] And you know when we got to front from Star Wars to The Empire Strikes Back it became very clear because of their most controlled technology that we could be adapted for the kind of stuff that I do which is more creatures and characters. So it was that was just an engineering job of you know working with engineers to work all that stuff up. Back in practicality as well as the tools certain there just haven't been like this before.

[ 00:02:50 ] Not much on my rocket. You know I think its applications are elsewhere. I mean there's a lot more of the stuff that we did was pretty Cluj just not very sophisticated.

[ 00:03:03 ] But folks are like really sophisticated stuff for motion pictures creatures some not not so much.

[ 00:03:11 ] One of the problems with with robotics and that kind of thing is there's not a lot of range you know. So if something if you cast it to play a robot that does this and you got it.

[ 00:03:28 ] But if you want to. Robert. And yeah you've got the wrong thing.

[ 00:03:33 ] And plus you know a lot of times you have to find the right robotics kinds of people that work in movies cause it's a whole different thing if you hire normal like scientists robotic people they don't get it.

[ 00:03:50 ] And you know you know these things break all the time and then that takes time and you have a whole room full of people sitting around waiting for all the you know Springs to be put back in the thing.

[ 00:03:59 ] So you've got to you've got to shoot really quickly and it's got to be to upon and that that's where like all the digital stuff helped production because you can move very very very quickly and get in and get out.

[ 00:04:11 ] And instead of having a cable control your radio controlled thing you just put the camera up against the background and you shoot and then you spend your time putting the thing in later.

[ 00:04:27 ] If everybody's gone home the movies of Brian and King Kong and Ray Harryhausen to quite a few you know I think close to like 15 feature films and I got to know Ray over the years I never worked with him but I would be shooting over in London that same stage that he was shooting on.

[ 00:04:58 ] So we'd go out for beers at the pub stoned.

[ 00:05:02 ] Whenever we come to town on like a book tour we'd get together you know well I've kind of started.

[ 00:05:17 ] Tippett studio in my garage.

[ 00:05:23 ] And I never thought like a business person you know. This was more like some kind of weird calling. It was like what I did and it so happened that one thing led to the next. And. It just happened you know just like that. I mean I had to go fill out all the paperwork at the city to start a company which I did. But you know I don't have a lot of people it's like it's like having a ranch you know and then you realize oh hey you know it all up up another patch over there and then over there and then how he you know he's got enough money for a combine harvester and then you get that and then you get bigger and bigger and then there's a drought and you get smaller and smaller. Lay off a bunch of the hands and it's just like that that technology whatever. It.

[ 00:06:24 ] Is necessary for it you know I'm pretty you know omnivorous when it comes. I like I prefer simple things and things that aren't complicated so that if the situation would have arise where I did not have to use complicated facts for for something I would go on to the stage and shoot the camera. And incorporate it that way. I would much prefer never so much thought about being faithful to. Anything. You know but the you know you're just you're building a world with the other filmmakers the director and the writer and director of photography. You know. So you're exclusively focused on that world.

[ 00:07:18 ] And you know that's pretty much the job yeah. I mean back in the day I you know I started working for George Lucas and.

[ 00:07:34 ] Through him I met and worked with Spielberg through a producer friend of mine John Davis and we did Robocop and Starship Troopers with the Hoven. So those guys I really enjoyed a great deal because they were very good. Managers of creative people and what they did was they.

[ 00:07:59 ] They really encouraged you to do your best stuff with minimal of no interference.

[ 00:08:07 ] And so what they did they were just they wouldn't let whatever shit was slowing down stream get to you so they would protect you from whatever stuff was going on you know with the studios and and they were fine.

[ 00:08:22 ] It was a lot of work but once you get on the same page it's kind of like kids playing with toys you know just start doing what I do. About how about a few years. Yeah. And it kind of goes like that.

[ 00:08:45 ] Generally it's not a choice. It's what you make of a project is or you know if somebody like you know Spielberg or Hovind you know wants you to do something Carlsruhe you up you go.

[ 00:08:58 ] Like yeah sure I'll do it.

[ 00:09:01 ] You know they did a reboot of getting the thing to the first five or dead for theatrical Simoneau really was the end of it was the old chest scene and Star Wars a couple of years ago Kathy Kennedy the producer called me up and said Hey Phil we're going to we want to do the chest scene again but we want it to be stop motion.

[ 00:09:25 ] What are you thinking. Sure fine. Kathy goes OK great. Ok back on ready by.

Thought Gallery Channel: 
Backstage Conversation Season: 
2017

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