ROBERT SKOTAK AND DENNIS SKOTAK ~ BROTHERS: Extremely talented
Award wining Visual Effects Artists, the brothers have worked
together since their late teens and between them, the duo have
accumulated an extensive and impressive resume that includes,
besides multiple artistic projects, many major feature films,
TV productions and commercials.
Skotak, is a Visual Effects Supervisor, who was awarded an Oscar
for his work on ALIENS. A dynamo of creativity he is multi talented
and has functioned as a Designer, Film Historian, Writer, Author,
Editor and Publisher of Special Limited Edition Film Magazines.
Robert is preparing the return of one of his earlier magazines
-- FANTASCENE, newly titled, RETROSPECT. This version of the magazine
is a series of eight special editions. It's designed to explore
amazing areas of film production and visual effects that have
until now, remained virtually unknown.
he is also in production of a much-anticipated documentary entitled
RED FANTASIES which deals with the dramatic behind-the-scenes
story of the struggle of creative artists in SCI FI films during
the Stalin-era Russians.
Skotak, an exceptional award winning Cinematographer and incredibly
talented sensitive Lighting and Color Expert, has also received
an Academy Award for his visual effects work on THE ABYSS and
a nomination for BATMAN RETURNS.
is an award-winning artistic still photographer and has in recent
years concentrated on translating his photographic talents into
the area of CG imaging. He is a highly skilled expert in the areas
of lighting and color, with an extensive technical knowledge in
all areas related to capturing, altering and generating new aesthetic
was inevitable that their artistic natures, sensitivity to color
and light, and various design skills coupled with a passion for
perfection, would lead each to a career in films. It's obviously
a 'genetic' thing and may in fact be located in their DNA as creativity
runs in their family. Their sister Sue is a computer programing
expert and she and their younger brother Jeff are both skilled
there was, at most, a half dozen films the brothers worked on
alone, one thing is certain ~ they would have nevertheless still
enjoyed creative and stimulating discussions about each other's
Skotak has one other comparatively unknown talent; In a split
second, upon seeing just a tiny scrap of a production drawing,
Robert is able to recognize the SCI FI film it represents. Even
if he hadn't worked on the production, he can tell from a mere
glance -- the film it depicts and the particular scene that was
being developed. Even if just a small section shows from beneath
a huge stack of production drawings from an assortment of unrelated
films, he can from the opposite side of a studio workshop, immediately
identify it. "Oh that's from METEOR".
doesn't stop there. He is, many times, able to accurately determine
the year the film was released and relate some of the even obscure
production details. It's an expertise that he has developed through
over 30 years of exploring the evolution of film and film art.
It's given Robert a unique perspective: "Much of what is
touted as 'new and revolutionary' are frequently ideas thought
of long ago."
brothers are broth perfectionists. Dennis, explains, "I like
to work in my stocking feet so I can 'feel' even a slight vibration,
however subtle, that could affect the timing of a shot."
He adjusts the lighting accordingly. Shooting with 'feeling'.
carried his love of SCI FI one step further. His wife is Dorothy
C. Fontana. She was the story editor on the original STAR TREK.
She was also the story-editor and associate producer on the first
season of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION series.
"D.C." as Dorothy is known throughout the industry and
has written many other popular series. Not all of them have been
connected with SCI FI. She wrote for HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE and
STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO. Robert told me, DESTINATION MOON and
WAR OF THE WORLDS were probably the two main films that sparked
the brothers' interest in the business.
said, "In particular, our interest in space travel films,
visual effects was sparked by such legendary people as LB Melchior
(writer/director), Karel Zeman (Czech filmmaker), George Pal (producer/director:
THE TIME MACHINE, SEVEN FACES OF DR. LAO etc.), Al Nozaki (art
director of WAR OF THE WORLDS and TEN COMMANDMENTS), and the ingenious
'creature creators' Paul Blaisdell and Bob Burns.
and I were also very much under the spell of astronomical artist
Chesley Bonestell from when we were wee folk. We doted on his
paintings in his classic book, THE CONQUEST OF SPACE. We checked
that book out of the library so often the pages started to fall
course, later -- once we got to know films better and could look
more into the 'behind-the-scenes' of film making -- we discovered
the work of sometimes even uncredited people who made huge contributions
to the look and feel of some of our favorite films.
Huebner, of course, was a big creative force behind a couple of
the classics from our formative years: His designs on THE TIME
MACHINE, FORBIDDEN PLANET, and later, his work on another couple
of major, visually iconic films; BLADERUNNER and John Carpenter's
THE THING inspired us immensely."
work we do is exciting. We're both very interested in speculative
thinking, the kind of ideas that turn up in SCI FI novels. Often,
SCI FI is the first place where major problems we will eventually
have to face on this planet are brought into the light. The salvation
of human life on the planet will require creative, resourceful
will we survive when our support systems -- the air, water and
natural resources we require with every breath -- are depleted?
Will we forever have poverty? Is there a way to eventually free
ourselves from this planet if faced with extinction? -- or from
the limits of our own frail biology? From time itself?
more we exercise our 'imagination muscles' the stronger we'll
be in dealing with the obstacles to progress. Creating visual
effects is hard work but also fun and stimulating. We get to work
with film industry Icons like Woody Allen, Francis Ford Copolla,
John Carpenter, Ken Russell, Jim Cameron and Ridley Scott, people
who challenge and stretch your abilities -- the same abilities
that are needed for surviving in this world.
get into this field, you really need to know a lot about a lot
of things, including mechanics, art history, computer technology,
fluid dynamics, acting, writing, puppetry, sculpture and -- most
importantly -- basic, good story-telling.
get to communicate ideas with the best people in the field; those
with a well-rounded education, who can grasp not only the technology,
but the vital ideas that make all the work worthwhile. "
remarked to Robert that along with the exciting work and the interesting
people he and Dennis got to meet and to collaborate with, the
pay scale for their movie work is extraordinarily high. Especially,
when compared to national 'standards' for 'regular' jobs. The
general public would see a film job as a dream job.
smiled and said, "Often there is no pay at all, and the business
is a struggle to get into, especially if you don't have connections.
In fact, I'd discourage anyone from trying unless they were truly
devoted and passionate about making films. The heartache and disappointment
are just too much otherwise. Although this is often described
as a "technical" field, it really isn't entirely. It's
always about art. About what makes people think. About what makes
is modest and neglected to state that enormous 'talent' is essential.
Talent that he and Dennis have in great abundance. About the pay:
Sometimes dedicated visionaries work around the clock ~ 24 X 7.
I guess when you consider that a dedicated visionary works morning,
noon and night on a project, they may at times be underpaid for
their time. It appears to me that successful and long surviving
Film Makers: Cinematographers though 'sensitive' (to design and
light) are a very sturdy group.
SKOTAK BROTHERS SCREEN CREDITS
Effects Supervisor ~ Visual Effects Designer ~ Visual Effects
Supervisor ~ Visual Effects Consultant ~ Cinematographer
SKOTAK BROTHERS FILMS & DOCUMENTARIES
T2 3D Battle Across Time
Terminator 2 Judgement Day
Failure to Launch
Joe and Max
The Skys the Limit
House on Haunted Hill
Heart and Souls
Honey I Blew Up The Kid
Cast a Deadly Spell
The Lords of the Deep
To Be or Not to Be
Jaws 3 D
Galaxy of Terror
Escape from New York
Battle Beyond the Stars
The Sky is Falling: The Making of 'The War of the Worlds'
The Alien Legacy
The Demon Lover
Superior Firepower: The Making of 'Aliens'
The Making of Tremors
Movie Magic - Action Miniatures - Fast and Furious
Shadows of the Bat
The Naked Monster
Tremors 4: The Legend Begins
ROBERT SKOTAK PUBLICATIONS
BOOKS: IB MELCHOIR MAN OF IMAGINATION (See Dancing Naked Book
MAGAZINES: FANTASCENE (Limited Editions)
RETROSPECT (Release date: Spring 2007)
Skotak, seen adding detail to a large-scale photo cutout of the
Titanic at dockside. His company 4-Ward Productions used a combination
of live action plates and a mix of matte art, cut-outs and 3-dimensional
models all digitally com-posited.
Robert Skotak lining up the Drop-Ship for the big crash sequence
INSIDE THE MINIATURES
FROM NEW YORK
Computer Programmer & Artistic Designer
Susan owns a Fantasy Creature Prosthetics Company
Guitarist and 'Re-Programmer of Hi-Tech Assembler Robots'
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The Internet Movie Database