Scotty never would have been beamed up were it not for the work of Howard Anderson Jr., a pioneer of visual effects who’s receiving this year’s ASC Presidents Award.
“That’s a fun thing,” says the 83-year-old veteran of film and television, whose credits range from Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot” to the original “Star Trek” series. “There were essentially many passes before we created those star backgrounds the Enterprise cruised through,” recalls Anderson. “I never thought the show would be a hit. I thought ‘My Favorite Martian’ would last a lot longer.”
Anderson Jr. grew up in the business, the son of Howard A. Anderson, who created visual effects for Cecil B. DeMille’s “The King of Kings.” In the 1930s, Anderson Jr. shot industrial films for Douglas Aircraft and documented the construction of the first B-19 airplane. By the 1940s, he joined his father’s company as an optical camera operator, working on projects as diverse the “I Love Lucy” and “Fugitive” TV skeins to such pics as “Tobruk,” which scored him an Oscar nom for his visual-effects work.
To date, four generations of Anderson’s family have worked in the film industry. Anderson Jr.’s son Howard III became president of the company in 1993, which now produces trailers for Par, Col, U and Fox. Granddaughter Valerie also works for the company in management.
“For the movie ‘Superman,’ my three daughters were in the train sequence when the earthquake shakes it up,” he says proudly. “And my son photographed part of it.”
In addition to keeping his business in the family, Anderson has been proud to call the ASC a second home, having been a member since 1962 and served on their board for 15 years in various posts.
“It’s a fun business to be in,” says Anderson Jr. “Particularly our end of it where you get a chance to work with a lot of people who are just as excited to be there as you are. The stuff lasts. You can look back 80 years later and it’s still there. And people still want to look at it.”