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PUBLICATIONS

Mentor Huebner's
ILLUSTRATIONS & INTERVIEWS
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On or In-between the Covers

*

BLADE RUNNER SKETCH BOOK

 

*

BOOKS

*

RAY BRADBURY REVIEW
A Collection of Articles and Essays

Featuring
Master Fantasy and Sci Fi Writer
Ray Bradbury

Plus

Henry Kuttner ~ Anthony Boucher ~ Ian Macauley & Others

Edited by William E. Nolan
Exclusive Illustrations for Ray Bradbury
Depicting Climax Scenes by
Noted Los Angeles Painter and Motion Picture Conceptual Designer
Mentor Huebner

~
A Privately Published Limited Edition ~ Rare Books
1952

*

Darryl F. Zanuck
The Longest Day
Original Book by Cornelius Ryan
A Motion Picture Promotional Book

American Book - Strafford Press, Inc.
Published by Program Publishing Company
New York, New York

Included are several of Mentor Huebner ~ Production Illustrations
(Designing the Normandy Invasion for Zanuck, Mentor produced 4000 drawings)

*

Norman Rosemont
Little Lord Fauntleroy
Original Book by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Promotional Book

Kestrel Books
Published by Penguin Books, Ltd.
Harmondsworth, Middleses, England

Illustrations ~ Preproduction Conceptual Drawings by Mentor Huebner
(Original drawings are oversized. - 20 X 40 and have been reduced for publication)


*

Dr. Elliot D. Abravanel, M.D.
Body Type Program

For Health, Fitness and Nutrition
Co-authors - Dr. Elliot D. Abravanel, MD & Elizabeth A. King

Published by Bantam Books
Toronto * New York * London * Sydney * Auckland

Exclusive, unique Body Type Illustrations by Mentor Huebner


*

Louise Huebner
Power Through Witchcraft
The Official Witch of Los Angeles County

Published by Nash Publishers
Beverly Hills, California
Toronto, Canada

Front Cover Portrait of Louise Huebner Painted by Mentor Huebner

*

Louise Huebner
Never Strike a Happy Medium
The Official Witch of Los Angeles County

Published by Nash Publishers
Beverly Hills, California
Toronto, Canada

Front Cover Nude of Louise Huebner painted by Mentor Huebner


*

Paul M. Sammon
Future Noir
The Making of Blade Runner

Harper Publishers
New York, New York

As the Primary Production Illustrator and Conceptual Artist
Mentor Huebner created many important and complicated designs for this film.

Some drawings are 18" X 24" ~ others 20" X 40" ~ and some larger.
Two of his drawings have been reduced to 1" X 2".
One is reduced to 2 1/2" X 2 1/2" and featured on the back cover.

This book is quite 'talkie' and boring. It gives minimum and almost no attention to visuals.

Film is visual. A picture is worth a 1000 words.
Evidentially no one told this to the writer Sammon.


*

Steven D. Katz
Film Directing
Shot by Shot
Visualizing from Concept to Screen

Published by Michael Wiese Productions
Focal Press & Butterworth Publishers
Studio City, California
Stoneham, Ma.

A Mentor Huebner Conceptual Drawing from "Harlem Nights"
and a few of Mentor Huebner's Conceptual Stroy-Boards from "Her Alibi"
are used to demonstrate particular uses.

Steven Katz says about Mentor's work:
"When 'projection drawings' are rendered as fully as was done for "Harlem Nights"
The conceptual drawings, are one of the most powerful tools available to the director "

Of Mentor's Conceptual Storyboards in "Her Alibi",
Katz says: "Huebner draws the entire scene of the action and frames the subject afterwards
as a cinematographer might.
Not all the story board artists use this technique,
but it is particularly useful in indicating panning shots and camera movement."


*

Hampton Fancher & David Peoples
The Illustrated Blade Runner
Contains the Complete Screenplay

The Blade Runner Partnership
Blue Dolphin Enterprises
San Diego, California

Features a few Conceptual Drawings by Mentor Huebner from his private collection


*


Published by the Crocker Art Museum
Sacramento, California

Mentor's age almost prevented him from being entered into this worthy art book by art historian Edan Milton Hughes but luckily his plein aire post impressionist paintings had been exhibited in a prestigious art gallery just as Mentor graduated from high school.

 

*

 

FLASH GORDON

The Movie

PREVUE MAGAZINE INTERVIEW

Mentor Huebner ... Primary Illustrator for Dino De Laurentiis' Flash Gordon, was the only English speaking member of the all Italian Art Department in Shepperton Studios in England, he created 2000 drawings and countless , 20 X 40 set studies over two and a half years, traveling dozens of times back and forth between Beverly Hills and London.

Mentor Huebner ... told Prevue Magazine, "In an illustrative sense, I am directing movies on paper. I even toyed with the idea of becoming a director. But I'm not sure I could handle the actors well. I'm too used to nailing them down on the drawing board. I don't know if I would like to start watching them move around all by themselves"

FLASH GORDON
A CANDID INTERVIEW WITH MENTOR HUEBNER
Prevue Magazine
1982

Mentor Huebner became Flash’s permanent production illustrator soon after shaking the South Seas sand of DeLaurentiis’ Hurricane from his hair. Traveling the globe in the course of his profession, Huebner works wherever film producers need him, taking advantage of the opportunity to soak up historic atmosphere on long, weekend walks.

Spending several months in London for Flash, Huebner was the only English-speaking member of the Italian art department.

When interviewed, he was working in a North Hollywood office, planning the upcoming DeLaurentiis version of E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime. Personable, candid and willing to share the memories of more than a hundred feature films since he entered the business in 1952, Huebner was, relaxed in a room surrounded by his charcoal and crayon drawings for Meteor, King Kong and other big-budget blockbusters.

He revealed he had originally visualized the staging of classic scenes such as the chariot race from Ben-Hur and the biplane chase through the cornfields in North by Northwest. He was also the designer of George Pal’s memorable - Time Machine.

“It wasn’t one of the best of my ideas, but George was quite taken with that whirling disk I put on the back.”

Over the last thirty years, Huebner has served as production designer, illustrator or art director on such movies as The Longest Day, Fiddler on the Roof, The Amityville Horror, 10, Lord of the Rings, Forbidden Planet, Westworld, The Great Race, Damnation Alley and the upcoming Under the Rainbow and S.O.B.

He has also exercised his penchant for historical settings by designing all the necessary atmosphere for the TV productions of The Man in the Iron Mask, The Count of Monte Cristo and Les Miserables.

An artist who genuinely loves to draw, Huebner creates countless storyboards every year. He taught life-drawing classes at a California university for 20 years, and has had numerous gallery showings of his paintings. More than a simple draftsman, Mentor finds that the skills required to be a first-rate production illustrator include being a functional designer with a thoroughly detailed knowledge of set construction, special effects, screen composition, lighting, storytelling, costume designing, editing, cameras, lenses, and space-time coordination.

“The production illustrator,” he explains, ”is the guy who gets the script, reads, ’500 Indians sprang out of the bushes,’ and has to solve the problems of putting those Indians realistically on the screen. Where do they come from? How did they get there? Are they on horses? Where are the horses? Where have they been hiding? These are the questions the writer didn’t resolve when he typed the scene.

“Production illustrators are real money-savers for producers. Some new directors and executives don’t understand how to use our skills effectively, and try to ramrod through situations without storyboards. But, on a really elaborate film, with multiple camera setups, stars and extras, 500 Indians and their horses could cost up to $150,000 a day. Every minute is precious. There's no time for improvising or debating with the cameraman about the field of vision. Three bad days on a big film could equal my income for nearly three years. It also makes financial sense to lay everything out, shooting as tightly and economically as possible, instead of guessing and leaving over a half-million bucks on the editing room floor.

“Some directors, like Blake Edwards, use boards and collaborate freely, usually for the chases and tricky technical problems. Two-people-in-a-room scenes rely mostly upon the actors, but fifty people in a room have to be choreographed for the camera so that the audience won’t see the dolly tracks, crane shadows, or reflector lighting panels. But then, there are the directors who are resentful of anyone planning their shots; it infringes on their creativity.

“Flash Gordon was a great film experience. Working with Mike Hodges was a real pleasure, because he’s the most sensitive person I’ve dealt with in a long time, a marvelous raconteur – I think he’s really a frustrated actor at heart. He lent a sympathetic ear when I’d say, ’ Mike, this scene just won’t play.’ We’d sit down and work out concepts together, rewriting the script at my drawing board.

“I’ve done about 2000 storyboards for Flash over the past two-and-a-half years, along with a number of 20 x 40” detailed set studies for the construction department. The script was rewritten four or five times along the way. Much of the drawing was very detailed because Dino wanted the technicians to see everybody and everything in every panel.

“When you have over $25 million invested you want to know what’s happening to all of it. We were on six stages at Shepperton, all the Star Wars facilities at EMI, and in a six-million-cubic-foot complex at Brooklands. I had to do a lot of drawing to fill all that space.”

In addition to positioning all the people on the ground, Huebner also had to solve a number of aerial difficulties when it came to the scenes involving King Vultan and the Hawkmen of Mongo. He not only designed the wing-like jet packs which replaced the ponderous previous versions, but also had to determine the cameraman's angles so that the Hawkmen, kept fourteen feet apart by their wings, would appear to be only three feet apart – conversational distance – when delivering dialog.

In a spectacular flying sequence, Huebner devised a way to simulate an entire squadron of flying men with eight actors, thirty miniatures and triple optical printing – completed in post-production by the special effects crew under Frank (Superman) Van der Veer’s supervision. The man who actually constructed the Hawkmen’s wings, Glenn Robinson, performed a similar task 40 years ago for The Wizard of Oz’s flying monkeys.

The essential plot for the DeLaurentiis Flash Gordon is rather like the original comic strip – Flash, Dale and Dr. Zarkov fly to Mongo to avert an interplanetary collision. Princess Aura, King Barin and other familiar characters turn up during the struggle to overcome the tyranny of Ming the Merciless.

“The Earth settings have been updated by screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr., who reportedly received $225,000 for the finished script. ”But,” interjects Huebner, ”even the most talented writers forget simple time and space problems when they are concentrating on the dramatic instead of the visual end of the story.

“At one point, we used a 175-foot-long set with Ming’s throne constructed at one end: Flash was to crash his rocket at the opposite end, go through a corridor, and up the stairs to the throne. I got the screenplay and found the landing scene described only as ’Flash Gordon staggers out of his crashed rocket and says to Ming – “Oh, yeah?”

“The two actors ar e 175 feet apart! I had to block out a series of shots with various angles and quick takes to signify a short passage of time, just to bring Ming and Flash together. It was nothing sensational, just necessary for the story flow.”

Though his storyboards resemble elaborate comic book panels, and function in much the same way, Huebner’s attention to detail and practicality goes far beyond the four-color realm, even on such a comics-inspired project as Flash Gordon .

“I remember the original Alex Raymond strips quite well, and we had the reprinted books in my office, Mike’s and Dino’s. We used what we could, but some designs were too impractical to build, so we adapted the material, and retained the artistic flavor.

“I like working with Dino, even though he can be very demanding. He treats me with consideration. He’ll call me and say, ’Hey, Mentor. I want you to go to England tomorrow morning, work maybe five, six weeks.’ Then, he will see to it I’m put up in a nice hotel and be well taken care of. He’s not like a lot of producers who won’t even let you go to the library for research – they figure you have been hired to draw, so they damn near chain you to the board, and wont spring for bus fare to Burbank.”

Few of his drawings are ever returned to Huebner, not even those done for films which were never made. ”They’re stolen,” he explains. ”People take them for souvenirs. I try to get as many as I can myself, because they’re valuable to me as a guide to what I’ve already done. The rest wind up on producers’ walls, some studio files and in film archives.

“As an artist, I appreciate audience reaction to my work, even if nobody knows that the scenes they're watching developed partially through my efforts. But the projects that are most frustrating will always be the ones that never quite got off the ground, like the handful I designed with George Pal, including for the film, Iceberg, which he was working on when he died.

“I like production illustration because it presents me with challenging situations which require my particular ability to both draw and work out the mechanics of getting a good shot or pacing a difficult scene. Often, just the quality of my work is satisfying, particularly if I am able to create a cohesive overall atmosphere for a film. Sometimes, I’ll see the movie in a theater just to find out if it works with the audience.

“In an illustrative sense, I am directing movies on paper. I’ve even toyed with the idea of becoming a Director, but I’m not sure I could handle the actors well. I’m too used to nailing them down on my drawing hoard – I don’t know if I’d like to start watching them move around all by themselves.”

The storyboards reproduced in this special PREVUE portfolio are from Huebner’s personal files and present prime examples of his work on Flash. Note the skilled familiarity with which he draws the human figure reflecting his many years of study. Many production artists have an awkward, architectural approach towards drawing people, as opposed to Mentor’s easy facility, solid mastery of forms and appealing warmth and humanity.

Note Huebner’s skill with cinematic imagery and the sequential staging of action, supplemented by directional arrows to indicate camera motion and character movement. By constantly altering sizes of elements, points of view and angles of vision, he introduces stimulating visual variations which engage viewer interest. By focusing on even the unimportant details and rendering every figure in the crowd scenes, Mentor conveys an accurate impression of exactly what figures, textures and emotional impressions the camera should see. *

“This sequence * is from one of the earlier drafts of the screenplay,” Huebner explains, “and has been altered somewhat for the final version. The soldier who throws himself on the sword was changed into a Lionman and put into an arena with a monster, I believe, to tie into the original Flash Gordon material.

“This was the way I originally staged the initial face-off between Flash and Ming, just after their landing on Mongo, juggling over a half-dozen major characters, and trying to show what types of personalities they have through the pictures alone. As you can see, Flash doesn't fare to well in this sequence.

“But then, this is Flash Gordon we're dealing with, and the movie has only just begun.”

 

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