Visual effects supervisor Peter Donen, son of helmer Stanley Donen, died Dec. 31 of a heart attack in Los Angeles. He was 50.
He was educated in the U.S. and Europe. He studied naval architecture and worked as a professional sailor before returning to the United States from Mexico, where he began his film career in the finishing department of Kaleidoscope Films.
When Kaleidoscope acquired Cinema Research, he became production manager, overseeing titles including “More American Graffiti,” “Superman,” “Clan of the Cave Bear,” “Jagged Edge” and “Altered States.”
He left Cinema Research to become a freelance visual effects supervisor, working on numerous commercials; musicvideos for artists including Michael Jackson; and title designs for films including “Gremlins,” “Twilight Zone” and “Blame it on Rio.”
He also designed and executed the horse-injury sequences in “The Horse Whisperer.”
His experience in scuba diving and as a naval architect served well for “U-571,” where he worked on filming the miniatures underwater. He also worked on visual effects for “Flatliners,” “Die Hard 2,” “Radio Flyer” and many more.
On “The Bourne Identity,” he supervised over 150 subtly integrated effects shots. (Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper said one of the things they loved about the film was “the lack of visual effects.”) His last film was “Ladder 49,” a Touchstone film skedded for release in October.
Besides his father, he is survived by his mother, actress Marion Marshall Wagner; brother, Josh, former producer and now an agent at CAA; stepfather, actor Robert Wagner; and half-sister, actress Katie.