Oscar-Winning Special Effects Make-Up Artists Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis Speak at New York Film Academy

May 24, 2011

New York Film Academy hosted a talk for students this week with special effects makeup artists Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis. Woodruff and Gillis have collaborated on some of the largest studio productions in history including The Terminator, Star Trek III, Jumanji, The X Files, Cast Away, and Superman Returns just to name a few. In addition, they have recently done work for the new X-Men First Class and the upcoming prequel to The Thing. Woodruff won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects on Death Becomes Her and was nominated for an Oscar along with Gillis for Aliens 3. Gillis also received an Oscar nomination for Starship Troopers.

Woodruff and Gillis collaborated on special effects for films including Aliens.

Woodruff and Gillis spent valuable time with students sharing their experiences from neighborhood adolescent filmmakers, to film school students, to Roger Corman’s employees, to the real world of filmmaking in Hollywood. Addressing the generational gap between practical special effects artists and CGI special effects artists, the two commented that filmmaking has headed in a digital direction, with filmmakers quick to make things “easier” or “cheaper” by going all digital. However, Woodruff and Gillis expressed that practical effects create a more realistic feeling and can actually be a cheaper option to create the visual sensation the director hopes to achieve.

Woodruff and Gillis recently worked on X-Men First Class.

Overall, the discussion was incredibly thought provoking. Woodruff and Gillis were extremely inspiring and New York Film Academy thanks them for the visit!