Dennis' Open Road

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  • INTERVIEWED BY:

    The Original Roadtrip

  • INTERVIEW LOCATION:

    San Francisco, CA

  • AIRED ON:

    Public Television: The Original Roadtrip

  • ON DVD:

    The Open Road

DENNIS MUREN

Special Effects Guru
8-Time Academy Award Winner

“Everyone says you’ve gotta get that foundation, and I think that’s probably true; but I think it’s also good just to go out and screw up and do it without knowing what you’re doing, to keep your energy up and just keep the fun of it.”

INTERESTS:

Film Technology

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Chance Education Hobbies & Pastimes Passion Risk

TAGS:

business, energy, fun, making mistakes, medicine, Star Wars

BIOGRAPHY:

In college, Dennis Muren did his best to take as few classes as he could. And then he crammed the ones he did take into Tuesday and Thursday so that he could spend the rest of the week on what he actually liked: making movies. This wasn’t a new thing; he’d caught the visual effects bug when he was just 6 or 7 years old, and his parents gave him his first camera when he was 10. From then on he was using his allowance to buy film and running around making movies with his friends. “It was never a career path,” he says, “it was just a hobby--but something that was more of a passion.” So there he was in community college, where his parents had sent him to get his Associate’s in business so he’d have something to fall back on. But outside of school, he made his own short film, and a distributor bought it for twice what it cost him to make ($7,000!). Soon, a little film called Star Wars came along and he was angling to work on it. Sure, he had to take a pay cut, but he liked effects--and what was he going to do instead? Keep working his part-time job as an inhalation therapist? No way. “No one knew there would be anything after that,” Dennis says. But Star Wars took off and suddenly his hobby was a career. From there, he went on to work on scores of other movies--big ones, like Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park--and won nine Oscars in the process. “Everyone says you’ve gotta get that foundation,” he says. “And I think that’s probably true, but I think it’s also good just to go out and screw up and do it without knowing what you’re doing, to keep your energy up and just keep the fun of it.”

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