Presenting “The Tree of Life” to The Academy

The awards season earlier this year was a very tense time.  I never felt comfortable posting about it because I didn’t want to toot my horn too loud.  It was all a little too big.

“The Tree of Life” movie poster, care of Wikipedia.

This past January, I was honored to present “The Tree of Life” to the VFX Branch of The Academy at their yearly bake-off.  We were one of 10 films singled out and honored to be competing for the nomination for The Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

I wrote a short three page piece that was part of our overall written submission.  I was up on stage at The Academy Theater, along with Dan Glass and Mike Fink to answer questions after our highlight reel was screened.  I even had the opportunity to quickly answer a question in the very short 2 minute Q&A that followed.  To be clear:  I was personally up there for nomination for an Academy Award.  Which is an honor and moniker that really has so overwhelmed me, that I’ve kind of avoided flaunting it to the extent I probably should have.  How do you do that without just seeming like a totally self absorbed jerk?

Ultimately, we did not make it to the next phase, which was the nomination for the “Best Visual Effects” award itself.  However, the film did get nominated for “Best Picture.”

At this point, I’m very comfortable with the reality that our “Universe” sequence is a primary component of the film.  Were it removed, it would greatly change the character and value of the film overall.  I’m also very comfortable claiming both creative and technical authorship of our piece along with my collaborators, Dan Glass, Mike Fink and Doug Trumbull, under Terry’s direction.  And I couldn’t be prouder of our team and work.

I spent over two years working directly with Terry, in Austin Texas, on the project.  I was afforded the rare opportunity to take the “Universe” sequence from Terry’s words on the page, through creative development, and to final composite and conform.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be that involved in a project in such totality again, unless its my own.

As with any creative project I get that deeply involved in, there are all kinds of things that I’d want to change.  It’s never finished.  It just happens to be done.