Nothing in entertainment quite compares to the summer movie season. From May to August there’s a constant stream of pop culture buzz as studios roll out many of the year’s most anticipated films on an almost weekly basis. 2012’s summer lineup looks especially strong, with exciting original properties and highly anticipated sequels on the release schedule, and we’re pleased to see that a large number of Full Sail graduates contributed to the production of many of these projects, with 122 alumni credited on major features.
Nearly half of these grads appeared on Marvel’s The Avengers, kicking off the season on May 4. A record 57 alumni worked on the film, which brings together comic book heroes like Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America for a big screen epic. One of these artists was Computer Animation grad Fred Stuhrberg, a 3D scanner who helped create the elaborate digital models for the film, and who explained the thrill he had working on the summer’s first major blockbuster.
“Seeing all those characters together on screen is going to be a real treat for fans,” he says. “I grew up loving this stuff, and I still get to be a kid while working on movies like this.”
Opening two weeks later on May 18 is Battleship, an adaptation of the classic Hasbro board game that was produced with the help of 14 alumni. This included Film grad Jesani Drew, who acted as a production assistant during the construction of the film’s battleship set. “You wonder how they can make a movie out of a board game, but I think this will surprise people,” he says. “I had a great experience being there watching it all come together, and I’m excited to see how the final version looks with all the effects.”
Just in time for Memorial Day weekend comes another effects-heavy production, Men in Black III, out on May 25. The film resurrects the series after a decade-long break, and its production featured 13 graduates working in various roles – from electricians to visual effects technicians. Among them was Andrew Hwang, a previsualization artist who has worked on past summer blockbusters like Iron Man 2 and Thor.
June kicks off with Snow White and the Huntsman hitting screens on the first of the month. The film is a dark retelling of the classic children’s story starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlize Theron. Its visual style is highlighted by ornate digital effects, which included contributions from Computer Animation grad Nathaniel Sims as FX technical director. “It’s really action packed, and think it’s going to be up there with this year’s top movies because it appeals to a wide range of audiences,” he says. “Working on something like this is great because you feel like you’re creating material that’s going to be around for a long time.”
June 8 brings one of the summer’s biggest mysteries to theaters, Prometheus, director Ridley Scott’s closely-guarded sci-fi feature with ties to his groundbreaking Alien. Portions of its visual effects work featured the efforts of six Full Sail grads at Luma Pictures, including H Haden Hammond, who offered, “It was already one of the movies I was most looking forward to seeing this summer, so I’m glad we got to play a small part. It's going to be a very cool movie.”
Offering a break from this action-heavy lineup is Rock of Ages, out June 15. The star-studded project is a big screen version of the hit Broadway musical, and involved 12 Full Sail grads behind the scenes. This included Kristina Alvarado and Rona Cohen, who worked as assistant to the choreographer and assistant to Tom Cruise, respectively.
Just in time for the summer’s second major holiday weekend is The Amazing Spider-Man, out on July 3. The film is a reboot of the popular comic book character following the successful Tobey Maguire franchise, and had 12 alumni as production assistants, electricians, and effects artists. Among them is character modeler Eric Provan, who previously worked on visually impressive projects like Arthur Christmas and Alice in Wonderland.
The next week will see Ice Age: Continental Drift drop on July 13, which had three grads on its animation team, while an impressive 31 alumni contributed to the book adaptation Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, out on June 22. This group had such diverse roles as makeup effects technician, wardrobe assistant, and travel coordinator.
Finally, mid-July brings a strong contender for the summer’s most anticipated film, The Dark Knight Rises. The third and final chapter of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy will be released on July 20, and included the work of 19 Full Sail alumni. Recording Arts graduate and Hall of Fame inductee Gary Rizzo returns as the re-recording mixer, after previously being nominated for an Oscar for his work on the series’ last entry The Dark Knight.
A number of grads were also on set during shooting, including Film grad Sean Matthews as production assistant. Sean was in the enviable position of working on Dark Knight immediately after contributing to The Avengers, and offered his own unique perspective of the two major bookends of the summer movie season.
“Going from Avengers to The Dark Knight Rises I was just in shock – here’s two huge summer movies I got to be a part of,” he says. “Somebody was asking me the other day what’s going to be better, and I honestly don’t know. Both movies are going to blow people away, and between them this is really going to be a great summer.”
These films are only a portion of what you’ll have to choose from this summer, with other highlights including Pixar’s Brave (June 22), and the sequels The Bourne Legacy (August 3) and The Expendables 2 (August 17). Looking at this long list, there’s plenty of reasons to stay inside an air conditioned theater as the temperature rises during the next few months, and we’re looking forward to seeing their work of so many of our graduates on opening day.