Kit West, RIP (last May, 2016)...an' Bill Paxton, too.
Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:13pm
One of the more poignant, altho predictable, moments in the Oscars is always the IN MEMORIAM montage, noting those who've passed since the last Oscars...
(Sadly, Bill Paxton -- among perhaps others I've missed hearing about or otherwise forget at this moment -- was not featured, as his sudden, untimely death at the age of 61 today, could not meet wHorleyWood's schedule. THE GUARDIAN reported he died "after complications following heart surgery". Please note his significant Accomplishments, including a spare Directing style that rivals Eastwood and Siegel, among other excellent progenitors.) https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/feb/26/bill-paxton-dies-61-aliens-titanic1
...and I was chagrined to learn, which I don't think was noted here at the time and I somehow either missed or forgot, of Kit West's passing last May.
Kit West was the guy behind the Special Effects on EL CONDOR, quite a few of which were pivotal to the plot...
In the Wider, non-LVC, World...Kit was a prolific SFX pro --- some of his more famous Credits include BATTLE OF THE BULGE (one of the first films I remember seeing in the theatre), Woody Allen's LOVE AND DEATH, Peckinpah's THE BIG RED ONE, the original WILD GEESE (Lee would appear in one of the sequels, CODE NAME: WILD GEESE), STAR WARS: Return of the Jedi, DUNE, EMPIRE OF THE SUN, THE BOURNE SUPREMACY and, of course, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (one of only 2 films that I paid full Theatrical Admission price to see 4 times, on its initial release)...the latter for which he won an Oscar as SFX Supervisor (tho his IMDB title is "Mechanical Effects Supervisor"...the "Oscar" Title for their award relating to SFX has morphed several times, over the decades).
A fairly nice Obit follows... >> SIDENOTE/EDIT: I only scanned the Obit below before pulling the link; I wrote the "summary" of KW's films above WITHOUT having read the ones they list, below --- I chose the above titles from the IMDB creds, because of my personal connection to those films. Funny so many match the ones the Obit author chose.
Kit West, second from left, accepting his Oscar for Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1982 with Richard Edlund, Bruce Nicholson and Joe Johnston CREDIT: DISNEY ABC TELEVISION GROUP
Kit West, who has died aged 80, was the British-born special effects wizard behind Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), for which he won a Bafta award, and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), for which he won an Oscar.
An old hand in the film effects industry, in which he had worked from the age of 18, West’s earliest credit was for Devils of Darkness, shot at Bray Studios in 1964. In 1985 he created the drug-induced nightmares of Young Sherlock Holmes, for which he won an Oscar nomination, and the explosive pyrotechnics of Daylight in 1996. He also worked on Battle of the Bulge (1965); Lost Command (1966); Woody Allen’s Love and Death (1975); The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976); Dune (1984); Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun (1987); Stargate (1994); Dragonheart (1996); Enemy at the Gates (2001) and The Bourne Supremacy (2004).
“I spend most of my life on location and only tackle films which are prepared to take me on for the entire production because I like to supply a complete service,” he told an interviewer. “ I take a mobile workshop with me so that if anything should break down we can fix it on the spot.”
Though he was a master of “old school” mechanical effects, including supervising the robotics in Return of the Jedi, and the seething snake pits and ghosts of Raiders of the Lost Ark (for which he shared his Oscar with Richard Edlund, Joe Johnston and Bruce Nicholson), West welcomed the advent of computer-generated imagery (CGI).
Harrison Ford is chased by a giant ball in a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark CREDIT: ALAMY
“On Dragonheart there was no physical dragon during the shoot but all the effects of its movements, such as objects being knocked over or water being displaced, had to be created physically,” he recalled. “A good thing about CGI is we no longer have to risk suspending or jerking people with thin wires to create an effect. We used to paint thin wires in the colours of the background but now we use stronger, thicker wires and rods because the CGI people take them out in post-production. That has made our lives easier and improved safety enormously.”
West’s special effects could be the salvation of a weak plot. Daylight was a sort of Towering Inferno set in a Manhattan commuter tunnel and starring Sylvester Stallone: critics panned the paper-thin plot but singled out West as the “real hero” of the piece for his exploding trucks of toxic waste, collapsing ceilings and electrical fires. “The tunnel looks so real,” one reviewer observed. “And to think it was all shot in a studio in Rome. Wow.”
Christopher John West was born in East Sheen, south-west London, on February 6 1936. After leaving college he got a job as a trainee camera assistant with Realist Film Unit, a company producing government and military training films. After National Service in the Army in Malaysia, he rejoined the company, which had now moved into commercials, eventually becoming director of photography and developing a speciality in photographic effects.
Later he joined Bowie Films, a company founded by the special effects expert Les Bowie, where he became involved in creating photographic effects for feature films and began to learn about the mechanical side of special effects.
He subsequently worked for Chapter 3 Productions and went on to do much work under contract for Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) the visual effects company founded by George Lucas, with whom he worked on Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark and Richard Marquand’s Return of the Jedi.
His favourite scene of all the films he worked on was the opening sequence of Raiders when Harrison Ford is being chased by a huge rolling ball.
Kit West is survived by his wife, Diana, and their daughter.
Kit West, born February 6 1936, died April 17 2016
This is the first that I've heard of Kit West. Your comments and links are most informative and I appreciated them. Hard to accept that Bill Paxton has passed on at only 61 years of age. I'll always... more