He passed away on June 15th. Maybe I missed the huge media coverage, but I wouldn’t have even know about it if it weren’t for Aint It Cool News.
Reading more and more personal accounts of him, I can’t help but remember how much Stan Winston, Rick Baker and of course, Dick Smith meant to me as a high school kid dreaming not of being a filmmaker, but a makeup artist. I bought all the books I could afford, and even had a subscription to Make-Up Artist Magazine. Every Halloween I’d have some kind of gory creation to show off at school.
At some point, I remember reading about how Stan Winston was unable to make a life cast of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the original Terminator so he simply sculpted a likeness from scratch – I believe this is the mask you see torn up with the metal exo-skeleton showing through. Frustrated with my own sculpting skills and hearing that, I felt there was no way I would ever be in the league of the greats. The idea of being able to sculpt the face of your lead actor to be used next to the real face just seemed to be a feat of super-human talent. Better to be a writer and director (obviously requiring much less talent) and hire the greats to work for me.
It was creature creators like Stan Winston that originally made me want to make movies. That’s something I lose track of while buried in my own character driven drama so proudly devoid of anything so sensational as special effects. But it was the sense of wonder and awe that I got from seeing impossible creations like The Terminator, The Predator, the queen alien, and dinosaurs for REAL that made me want to make movies in the first place. My tastes may have expanded, and my fascination with creature may have been (partially) replaced with a fascination in character, images, sound and film form, but those creatures, those creations, from Stan Winston and the rest of them, that’s where it started. Another childhood hero has gone.
Effects will be a little less special without him.
A few good articles remembering Stan Winston:
For the curious:
LA Times’ nice overview…
For the fans:
Aint It Cool News’ ever-growing list of recollections by friends and collaborators.