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Rick Baker Retires From Filmmaking: “Cheap and Fast” CGI Drove Decision

Rick Baker Retires From Filmmaking. Horror movie legend Rick Baker publicly states that he will no longer be involved in the creative, hands-on aspect of the filmmaking process. This is the end of an era, a bugle call for a generation raised on practical effects. The man who brought us the design, make-up and practical effects in films such as Star Wars, An American Werewolf in London, and Michael Jackson‘s Thriller, has decided to call it a day. He has finished his life’s work.

Regarding the reasons why, and what aspects he would still consider working on, Slashfilm reports,

First of all, the CG stuff definitely took away the animatronics part of what I do. It’s also starting to take away the makeup part. The time is right, I am 64 years old, and the business is crazy right now. I like to do things right, and they wanted cheap and fast. That is not what I want to do, so I just decided it is basically time to get out. I would consider designing and consulting on something, but I don’t think I will have a huge working studio anymore.

And who can blame him? We are inundated with cheap, outsourced computer graphics that all feel the same. CGI is a useful tool when its carefully combined with the practical side of things, but it has truly become the main attraction these days. I can’t express how much better the suspension of disbelief in films worked when the things shown on-screen were actual, tangible things.

On a personal note, this man ruined some of the most innocent sleep I ever had the chance to enjoy. Those three aforementioned works were some of the most informing pieces of film I could’ve ever been privvy to at such an early age. There is nothing I can say about Star Wars and how affecting it is to a young child, how the romance of adventure and the playful practical effects infused a whole generation of people to fall in love with cinema and fantasy. That’s been said, and for good reason. Rick Baker was a major, essential piece of that machine, and he influenced the dreams of millions of children with his efforts. He did, however, also scare the living shit out of those same children with his other work. Namely, An American Werewolf in London and Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Strangely enough, those were the exact first two horror films I have ever seen. I’m aware that the latter is a music video, but as someone who was given the short-film extended version on VHS as an 6yr old (thanks dad), it was definitely a horror film. I couldn’t even get past the demonic “GET AWAY!” growl for the first five attempted screenings. An American Werewolf in London was injected into my cerebrum around the same time, and it gave me nightmares and forever scared me of the dark, the moon, and the forest.

Rick Baker is an artist, an essential piece of American cinema, and will forever be remembered for his priceless artistic additions to the dreamscape that we inhabit when those lights dim. He allowed us to suspend disbelief, easier than usual, due to the incredible nature of his practical work. He scared the shit out of millions of little kids. That’s truly something to be proud of.

Sources: Slashfilm, IMDb

 

About the author

Marco Margaritoff

I grew up in Hamburg to a German father and Ecuadorian mother. Obsessive student of film, Hip-Hop, and stand-up comedy. I love the dark dreambox that is the cinema auditorium. I love mountains and the ocean, but am equally exhilarated by the jungle of the city. I hope to one day create something that hits someone in the brain with thunderous effect.

  • It really is a shame but he’s smart to retire. A craftsman like himself should never settle for what they pay for practical effects these days. I hope he does what Stan Winston did and start a school. He still has a lot to teach film-makers even with CGI.

  • Fully agreed. I’m sure there is a lot of behind the scenes frustration and aggravation that Baker shouldn’t need to put up with. The Stan Winston route is a great idea, by the way. I just fear that there will be more and more of a dearth of disciples as time goes on. I hope I’m wrong. It’s people like Baker that keep, or kept, rather, this stuff alive. At least filmmakers like Del Toro still blend a healthy balance between practical and CGI.

  • Tieuel Legacy

    I bought the ThrillerVHS and it still holds up. Interesting and sad that he has to leave.

  • I worry about it too. More and more young film makers are using CGI because it’s cheap and fast. But shows like Face Off help to promote practical effects and that goes a long way. A healthy balance is the key. Even Rick Baker knows there’s a limit to what practical effects can do, but directors like Del Toro and Abrams are pushing the boundaries of what we think are possible.

  • Yeah his make up effects are timeless. Even today his transformations are cutting edge and realistic.

  • What a terrible shame, Rick Baker’s work is phenomenal, CGI is very good these days, but I personal love to see the hand-crafted work of great artists such as Baker and Winston.

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