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Old 11-01-2008, 05:23 PM   #1
Tim Partridge
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Default Brian Smithies (Century 21st effects man)

Back from around the late 1970s to the late 1980s, Brian Smithies seemed to be quite a ubiquitous big name in miniature effects work. I know he has done AGENT CRUSH recently, but would love to know if anyone keeps in touch with him and knows how to contact him.

I really like the feature projects Mr. Smithies supervised over the years, some of the finest film model work ever shot. DUNE for instance. Does anyone know what shots he did EXACTLY on SUPERMAN? His credit is right next to Mr. Meddings on that one, yet you never hear any praise.

Thanks
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Old 11-01-2008, 09:08 PM   #2
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I went to a talk that Brian gave in Bristol a few years ago not long after he'd worked on Goldeneye with Derek - I seem to remember he brought along a very small miniature of one of the planes used in the movie. Brian's speciality is in creating convincing miniature landscapes, so I imagine this may have been his main contribution to Superman. In my experience he's possibly not one of the more approachable of the effects people I've met, and his contribution to SFX film production is not that well documented.
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Old 12-01-2008, 11:02 AM   #3
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Brian's OK if you get him on a good day. He and Derek used to argue all the time but Derek would always want him on a movie. This is just a personal opinion but I always feel that Brian is a little disappointed that he hasn't made it further up the career ladder particularly as most of his colleagues did. I don't think there's any great conspiracy. It's just the way things worked out although he did direct the model effects on the movie "Dune". He's doing alright. Isn't he Lord Smithies of Pembrokeshire or something (no, I'm not kidding)? I believe he's got a title of some sorts. AT, you're the one who normally keeps up with this stuff.
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Old 12-01-2008, 11:11 AM   #4
Tim Partridge
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Thankyou for the reply!

It is interesting when you look at Brian Smithies credits across many of his features work:

First you had SUPERMAN where Smithies received an ADDITIONAL MODEL EFFECTS credit behind Derek Meddings own title on that film. Smithies then went on to supervise physical effects on films like CLASH OF THE TITANS and AMAUDEUS, as well as overseeing full, big budget model shoots on DRACULA, OCTOPUSSY and DUNE. He then seemed to be demoted to John Richardson's assistant on the Bond films as well as ALIENS, then in the 1990s he went back to being credited as chief model maker/art director for Derek Meddings on NEVERENDING STORY 3 and GOLDENEYE. Then it was more assisting John Richardson before he did AGENT CRUSH!

I think it is safe to suggest that from A VIEW TO A KILL onwards, Brian Smithies was doing that model landscape specialisation that you mention. It just strikes me as a bit odd that from the late 1970s to the early 1980s Smithies seemed to be competing with Meddings and Richardson more as an overall model director, yet after that period he went back to the backroom, until AGENT CRUSH. Maybe he found his niche and did not care for the responsibility of model director? It seems a bit weird, but that's because the work credited to him as effects director is to such an amazingly high standard.

Some kind of an interview/extended biography would be appreciated.
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Old 12-01-2008, 11:14 AM   #5
Tim Partridge
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DX-SFX View Post
Brian's OK if you get him on a good day. He and Derek used to argue all the time but Derek would always want him on a movie. This is just a personal opinion but I always feel that Brian is a little disappointed that he hasn't made it further up the career ladder particularly as most of his colleagues did. I don't think there's any great conspiracy. It's just the way things worked out although he did direct the model effects on the movie "Dune". He's doing alright. Isn't he Lord Smithies of Pembrokeshire or something (no, I'm not kidding)? I believe he's got a title of some sorts. AT, you're the one who normally keeps up with this stuff.
Sorry I seem to have posted my other reply before I saw yours! Thankyou for the information!!

Did you work with Smithies and Meddings on any projects? If so, any chance you could share any details here?

Much appreciated!
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Old 12-01-2008, 01:38 PM   #6
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My biggest regret was not actually having the opportunity of working with Derek although we met and spoke many times. I was a fledgeling newbie working mostly out of Shepperton and Derek's office was just a few units down when he was part of The Magic Camera Company. Brian Smithies and I were up against each other a couple of times when early incarnations of Agent Crush were attempted but never came to anything. On the last occasion, I chose to do the Bond and although Brian wasn't initially involved, he later found his way onto Crush.

BTW it's quite frequent that friends and colleagues find themselves going for the same jobs. There's never any animosity about it. Someone's got to do it. It's all part of the routine. So much of it is down to being at the right place at the right time or who you know. They always tend to employ people they know than people they don't. It's also quite possible to be directing effects one day and a modelmaker the next. One can hold out for the top jobs but work is obviously thinner on the ground for those positions. There's a wise saying in the industry that if someone offers you a job, say yes because you never know where the next one is coming from.
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Old 12-01-2008, 05:32 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info.

Regarding CRUSH- I seem to remember an issue of SFX back in 1999 that had Sean Robinson touting a new Anderson styled puppet series called CABS or something. It listed Paul Wilson as the effects DP and Peter Wragg as effects director! Whatever became of that? I only really know of Robinson from an old issue of SCI FI AND FANTASY MODELS magazine.

Brian Smithies also did the models for the Zoran Perisic directed movie, GUNBUS, which many high profile technicians worked on (including DP David Watkin and a great deal of the British effects industry of the day, lots uncredited) yet I haven't ever met anyone else other than myself who has seen it! I know folks who worked on it who haven't seen it! Robin Browne was the model unit DP/director, although the miniatures tended towards the stylised, slightly Melies like. VERY impressive marriage of in-camera model shots with Zoptic and motion control.
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