Last night I had a rare opportunity. A good friend of mine invited me to a private screening of an upcoming film called Harbinger Down. If you haven't heard of it, here's the trailer:
More importantly, if you haven't heard of it, it was made by the folks at Amalgamated Dynamics, the practical creature effects shop behind the last two movies in the Aliens franchise as well as the Alien vs. Predator movies, Starship Troopers, and dozens of other major creature features. They decided to run a crowdfunding campaign to make a film that showcased nothing but practical creature effects. The end result is a thoroughly enjoyable film that harkens back to the monster movies and horror films I ravenously consumed in my youth.
But what really made it special was the combination of the audience and the location where we were watching it.
The friend that invited me to the screening is one of the lead model makers at 32 Ten Studios. This is the shop that currently resides at the former site of Industrial Light and Magic in Marin County. So their screening room happens to be the exact same little movie theater where the final editing was done on Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, the Indiana Jones movies, and many more. It also happens to be the theater that THX sound was originally invented for. The whole place is positively dripping with history.
The audience was a mix of special effects veterans from throughout the last forty years of filmmaking. Alec Gillis, one of the founders of Amalgamated Dynamics and the director of the film, was there to introduce the film and ask questions afterward. Dozens of other FX legends filled the auditorium. Phil Tippett, one of the biggest names in stop-motion animation and the former head of the ILM creature effects shop was sitting in the front row.
In short, the people in that room were probably responsible for deciding how half of my childhood looked.
The end result was a fun evening watching a fun movie in an amazing place with an even more amazing crowd. I was thrilled and humbled to be invited.