Newly updated with Ryan Banfield from Stan Winston Studios and screenwriter and producer John Fasano with words on the man and his funeral.
Now updated with a report from Stan's Funeral today where eulogies were given by Spielberg, Schwarzenegger, Cameron and maybe even you.
Updated with thoughts from Stan Winston Productions' Brian Gilbert and a man named Evan Schiff who worked as an intern at Stan Winston Studios as a teenager! Updated with one of Stan Winston Studios' ex-"foam runners" Lance Gilmer. Updated with one of Stan's "Lifers" - Richard Landon... Updated with J Alan Scott, one of the 4 Effects Supervisors at Stan Winston Studios. Updated with a 20 year old personal photo sent in by a friend featuring Stan and a friend's newborn daughter, Molly, as well as comments from Harry Potter Creature Department's Nick Dudman, an ex-Stan Winston Studios Art Director named Aaron Sims, Randy from Action Figure Times, ex-employee Rebecca Himot and Tara Crocitto, one of Stan Winston Studios' VPs.
Now updated with thoughts from KNB's Greg Nicotero and Robert Kurtzman, Sideshow Collectibles' Scott Klauder and frequent collaborators Shannon Shea and Jim Charmatz.
Newly updated with comments from Sandy Collora and Weta's Richard Taylor.
Updated again with sentiments from producer John Watson, Alec Gillis, and Tom Woodruff.
Once more, updated with words from Fred Dekker, Stan Winston Studios' John Rosengrant (who had to work on T4 yesterday) and Josh Cragun, Stan's nephew.
Newly updated again with words from Rick Baker!
Newly updated below with words from Joe Dante!
Updated below with comments from Jon Favreau, Jonathan Liebesman and Frank Darabont!
Hey folks, Harry here... Incredibly I have never met Stan Winston. I have never spoken to Stan Winston. I've met just about everybody else in the Physical Effects world - but I have never had the honor to share time with Stan. At 4am last night I received a text message on my phone: "Stan Winston Is Dead" - and it came from Director/Writer Michael Dougherty. I didn't see it, I was asleep. However, by the time I woke up - not only was Quint's story up, but I had 12 other emails from folks I know in the industry stating that Stan Winston was gone. I called Quint to talk with him about it. Eric was upset that the mainstream press was obsessing over another rehab adventure - and felt that the mainstream press would never get this story right. He's been assembling comments from many of Stan's associates - but he asked me to reach out to Jim Cameron... Without a doubt, Stan's most iconic collaboration. Jim just wrote me back - here's what he had to say:
Harry, Thanks for doing what you're doing. You're right, the mainstream media won't get it. They don't understand the important stuff. They're too busy chasing young idiot celebrities around the rehab circuit. Stan was a great man. I'm proud to have been his friend, and his collaborator on what for both of us, was some of our best work. We met in pre-production on Terminator in 1983, and quickly sized each other up as the kind of crazy son of a bitch that you wanted for a friend. We've stayed friends for over a quarter of a century, and would have been for much longer if he had not been cut down. We've lost a great artist, a man who made a contribution to the cinema of the fantastic that will resound for a long long time. I don't need to list the indelible characters he and his team of artists brought to the screen. Readers of your site know them. We all know Stan's work, the genius of his designs. But not even the fans necessarily know how great he was as a man. I mean a real man --- a man who knows that even though your artistic passion can rule your life, you still make time for your family and your friends. He was a good father, and he raised two great kids. His wife of 37 years, Karen, was with him in the beginning, helping him make plaster molds in their garage for low budget gigs on TV movies, and she was with him at the end. He was a man of incredible humor. When I think of him I see him smiling, usually a goofy grin as he twists his glasses askew on his nose doing a Jerry Lewis impression. Never afraid to play the clown, because he knew his colleagues respected him. He lived life full throttle, in work and play. Like me he loved fast cars, and whenever one of us would get a new toy, the other had to drive it (a practice which was strained for few years after I skidded his brand new Porsche turbo, just off the boat from Stuttgart, into his garage and stopped a half inch from the back wall). We even went to formula racing school together. For the last ten years or so we rode motorcycles on Sundays with Arnold Schwarzenegger and some other friends, not every week but as many Sundays as we could. There was a comradeship that comes from starting out together, and never betraying the respect and trust of that friendship over the years, but always being there for each other, that the three of us have shared. Stan and I founded Digital Domain together, and our friendship was never strained by being business partners. He always demonstrated incredible wisdom in business, because he knew people, and especially creative people. He inspired artists to pull together and work as a team, which is like herding cats, but it was perhaps his greatest talent. To lead by inspiration. His own team at Stan Winston Studios is the most stable in the business. His core guys have been with him literally since Terminator, 25 years. That's because they respected him so much, and because he made the work fun, even though it was hard. They would stay up all night busting their ass for him. They knew they would always be doing something cutting edge and challenging, and that he respected them enough to let them run with it. Though he could draw and sculpt as well as any of them, he never let his own talent eclipse theirs, because he knew that team building was the most important aspect of leadership. And that's what allowed them to create success after success for over two decades, and win 4 Oscars, among over 30 awards. A walk through Stan's studio gallery is a trip through the last two decades of fantasy cinema. Predators, Terminators, raptors, T-rexes, Edward Scissorhands himself and a hundred more. It hits you how great an impact he's had. I spoke with Stan by phone Saturday morning, and apparently it was one of the last conversations he had. Incredibly, in retrospect, he was full of life, you'd never have known he was at death's door. We talked for a long time about all the fun times, and all the dragons we'd slain together. He said that once you've shown something is possible, everybody can do it. What was important was being first. Breaking new ground. Well that's just what he did his whole career, and today's creature and character effects business uses the techniques he developed every single day. He inspired a generation of fantasy effects geeks, and his legacy will be found in their dreams up on the screens of the future, not just in the films he worked on directly. I'm going to miss him, like I'd miss a brother. It's hard, almost unfathomable, to talk about him in the past tense. He was just one of those larger than life people that was so alive that you can't imagine them gone. But he is gone. I ask the fans to remember not just the work but the man. Thanks for listening. Jim out
Later tonight - Quint will be adding to this with comments from a good many associates - including Jon Favreau - and we're hoping to hear from Spielberg - as Stan's work with Steven is also legend. But while I never knew the man - I treasured his work. Check back later tonight for more.
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I have word out to half a dozen people now to add onto this tribute to the Great Stan Winston. Below you'll find three filmmakers whose lives were touched by Winston in either friendship, professional collaboration or both. Continue to check back. As we get more of these in we'll update it. First up is Jon Favreau, who has worked with Winston twice as a director:
He was a giant. I was blessed to have known him. I worked with him on both Zathura and Iron Man. He was experienced and helped guide me while never losing his childlike enthusiasm. He was the king of integrating practical effects with CGI, never losing his relevance in an ever changing industry. I am proud to have worked with him and we were looking forward to future collaborations. I knew that he was struggling, but I had no idea that he would be gone so soon. Hollywood has lost a shining star.
Next we have Jonathan Liebesman who worked with Winston on DARKNESS FALLS, a troubled film from the beginning, but Winston acted like a life preserver keeping the young Liebesman afloat in the storm of that production. Here's his Jonathan Liebesman:
Hey Eric, I guess I would just say that on my first film when I was a 25 year old first time director, Stan Winston would call me "boss". That nod of support fuelled me through any tough times on the movie. Whenever I'd go to his shop to visit the guys working on my film, Stan would always walk up to me and shake my hand to greet me with a "you like what you see, boss?". His attitude was so empowering to me. I was amazed that even if you weren't Cameron or Spielberg, a legend like Stan would treat you with the same respect he'd give those guys. They say to be careful when you meet someone you idolize because your idol always disappoint you. Not this time. Stan supported me and I will always be grateful to him and wish I could've worked with him one last time. Jon
And the last one I have for you at this moment is Frank Darabont. I'll let Frank speak for himself:
I'm still reeling from the news. Losing Stan is a real blow for me, as I'm sure it is for a lot of people who loved his work. He was clearly a genius in his field. He and I talked about working together for years, but we never found the project to make it happen. Stan was one of those people it was impossible not to like. I met him around the time of Eraser. Back then Schwarzenegger was always throwing these dinners at his restaurant in Santa Monica—lots of food, wine, and cigars. And because Stan and I were fans of each other’s work, we’d often wind up sitting together. We’d trade stories, talk movies, and laugh our asses off. Stan was a fantastic dinner companion, a real raconteur, and one of the most affable guys you'd ever meet. He was brimming with enthusiasm that was genuine. As revered an industry figure as he was, he was still basically the kid who loved movies and broke into the business for the magic of it, and he never let go of that attitude. Though the business itself can grind you down, it never jaded him or diminished his joy for the creative side of what we do. He simply loved movies too much to allow that. That impressed me enormously about him. One of the blessings of being in movies is when you meet icons whose work you deeply admire and they turn out to be fantastic people. They’re the ones you’re honored to encounter along the way, the people who are kind and gracious and inspiring in addition to being superbly talented. They exhibit genuine humanity and touch your heart in various ways, and you foolishly figure they’ll always be around to get to know better as the years go on. But then they are taken far too soon, and you’re left with the deep and lasting regret of not having gotten to know them nearly as well as you’d wanted or expected to. I’ve met and lost a number of extraordinary people who fall into this category, among them Roddy McDowell, John Frankenheimer, Sidney Pollack, Dave Stevens, and John Alvin. Stan Winston now sadly joins my list. The best way to sum up Stan is to share my best memory of him. I’ll never forget how excited and honored we both felt the day we participated in presenting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to our mutual childhood hero, Ray Harryhausen. Stan and I spent the afternoon on a “pinch-me-because-I-must-be-dreaming” high. We kept pulling each other aside and muttering things like: “Wow, can you believe we’re here? Can you believe we get to do this? Isn’t this the coolest thing ever?” In short, we spent the day geeking out like a couple of giddy kids. Whenever I think of Stan, I’ll think of his joy and his childlike enthusiasm that day.
Thanks to all that have come out and spoken up for Winston so far. If you had the chance to know the man or work with him, we'd love to hear from you. Director, effects, make-up, actor, producer, colleague, whomever. Of course I'd love to hear from Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis, Schwarzenegger, John Carpenter (Stan worked with Bottin on THE THING), Joe Dante, Steven Spielberg and Tim Burton to name a few specifics, but honestly anybody who knew Stan and can offer his fans a glimpse at who he was, let us posthumously meet him as it were is what we're going for. Please email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and we'll include it in. Like I said above, keep checking back for more insight into Stan Winston. We should have more coming in over the next few days, including a promised piece from MONSTER SQUAD director Fred Dekker.
Quint here. I'm hitting the sack for the night... I'll see what's in the inboxes when I wake in the morning (I've gotten word that Richard Taylor will contribute soon), but this just came in... words from Joe Dante on the late, great Stan Winston:
Although Stan was prematurely gray, he always exuded so much youthful enthusiasm that he never seemed much older than 20, making today's sad news all the harder to accept. Like many of us who began as monster kids, he was eternally excited to be part of the movie business, even after becoming one of the major names in his field. I met Stan at Amblin when he was doing GOONIES, where he was providing a giant octopus that eventually got cut from the movie, and I admired his direction of PUMPKINHEAD, but we didn't really get the chance to work together until SMALL SOLDIERS, for which his studio provided most of the designs for the various living toys. The level of detail that went into the creation of these figures and their on-set animation was prodigious, and subject to lots of trial and error. How much was to be accomplished on-set and how much would be ceded to ILM's CGI artists was in constant flux. In the end the scale tilted more toward ILM than any of us had expected, but Stan and his guys were totally on board with whatever was best for the picture. But that was Stan's ethos. Whatever worked and made everybody look good. One less artist and a major loss for all of us. Rest in peace, Stan, with the knowledge you made a difference in the world you loved best. Joe Dante
"Moriarty" here. I'm still reeling from this one myself. I had several opportunities to visit Stan's shop over the years, and that amazing showroom of his. I always found him to be charming and friendly and really welcoming as a person, and of course, he was a master artisan. I'm deeply moved by what Rick Baker sent us, one master's salute to another, and here it is for you guys:
Such sad news. I arrive in England after flying all of Sunday night, get to my hotel, go to bed, get up and go to work in the morning and find out that Stan Winston is gone. I can't tell you how sad this makes me. I just spoke with him a couple of weeks ago. I called to tell him how beautiful I thought his Iron Man was. I heard rumors that he was ill and spoke to him about that. He confirmed the fact that he had cancer but said, "Hey, I am still above ground". We spoke about when I finished my work on in England about getting together and talking about the good old days. Stan was bigger than life. The film industry is not going to be the same without Stan. Stan took make-up effects out of the garage and made it a respectable business. Stan was the first to make a nice clean beautiful shop for crew to work in. He treated his crew well, with respect and love. My heart goes out to his family and his crew. I am sorry for their loss, his passing is a loss to us all. It is hard to imagine the make-up effects industry without Stan. His presence will surely be missed. I feel like it is the end of an era.
Quint back again, with three more pieces for this growing tribute to Stan Winston. We'll start with MONSTER SQUAD director Fred Dekker:
Imagine a world where you have no visual knowledge of the Terminator endoskeleton. What if you never saw the Alien Queen from Aliens? Take the T-Rex from Jurassic Park, and remove it from your memory banks. Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands? Gone. Not there. What kind of weird world would that be? My point is, this isn’t just fanboy stuff -- these are some of the most indelible, iconographic images in the history of motion pictures. But putting that aside (and my belief that A.I. is one of the great achievements in all of genre cinema), my personal favorite Stan story was one night when we were shooting THE MONSTER SQUAD on the Warners backlot. In the movie, there’s a tiny, throwaway shot that occurs right after Frankenstein's monster wallops Dracula and sends him flying onto a pointed metal cross. Except there was no walloping… and no "flying” either. It was all in the editing. There was a shot of Frank throwing a backhand -- then we see Drac "impaled". What I had storyboarded to sell it was a small, blink-if-you-miss-it, insert of the body actually hitting the cross. Any other director would have given it to the second unit. But I was a newbie, and I had the entire first unit -- a full union crew standing by at 4:00 a.m. while Stan and I stood on a ladder with a Dracula dummy, literally THROWING it onto the cross with the camera three feet away. We’d throw it… and miss. Then try again. Close, but not quite. “This is it,” we’d say. “This is the one”. Then -- Doh! The dummy’s cape fell off. In retrospect, here was a man who’s done every conceivable kind of screen makeup, from glamour to old-age stippling to werewolf appliances… an Oscar and Emmy winner who would later design and build not just fully articulated, human-sized animatronic robots, but fully articulated, literally DINOSAUR-sized robots. A virtuoso who worked with the biggest directors, created the biggest FX creatures, and worked on the biggest, most groundbreaking effects movies of all time. But here’s what I remember: me and Stan, at four in the morning, throwing a dummy onto a spike just like when I was 12 years old in my backyard making 8mm movies with my friends. I’m sure the crew thought we were crazy. But man, the memory was worth it. There's always been a part of me that stays a little kid at heart. And that night, I saw that part of him, too. He was having a ball – even without gazillion dollar robots... My second favorite Stan memory is from not that long ago. We had a meeting on a project for which he and the boys would have built me some creatures. He talked about how his creations aren't effects, but actors -- actors giving performances. I loved that idea, and it was great to be back in the sandbox with him, spit-balling like the old days. But the producers and I weren't entirely on the same page. Whether Stan knew this, I don’t know. But after the meeting, he took me aside and quietly encouraged me to stick with my vision, no matter what. Don’t be steamrolled, he said. Don’t compromise. To me that’s Stan Winston in a nutshell: Do it right, or don't do it. I’ll miss his creations and their "performances”… and I’ll miss that goofy, mischievous smile. I hope you’re in a better place, Stan. Because this one is a little worse without you.
Next up is John Rosengrant, from the set of TERMINATOR: SALVATION, a man who has worked with Stan since the first Terminator and had to continue working through news of his mentor's passing.
It's 3am here in New Mexico and I'm supervising Terminator 4 Salvation for Stan and just finished one of the toughest days in my life.It was extra tough not only that I lost my mentor, who taught me this business and great lessons in life, but we had to perform tonight. The old show biz saying" the show must go on" came true and the team and I had to make Stan proud....to bring our characters to life, and keep it all together. I have been blessed to have worked for Stan for the last 25 years ,my first feature with Stan being the first Terminator.It has been an unbelievable opportunity, an incredible ride. It's a ride, we the team will continue, just as he wanted.Stan never lost his love for this business, always wanted to break that new ground ,give the audience what they had never seen before, and to the highest artistic standards. As a person Stan was caring and generous. It breaks my heart that he is gone. The out pouring from the fans is very touching.... you all obviously loved him as much as we all did at Stan Winston Studio.We'll miss you Stan. John
And then there's Josh Cagun, giving us our first look at Stan from inside the family. We'll continue posting these as long as we keep getting stories, so please keep checking back.
Heya Quint, Many of you knew Stan Winston as an incredible artist. I knew him as Uncle Stan. I was just reading through the various tributes to my uncle on your website, and I was impressed with the sheer number of people that felt compelled to express their grief and condolences. I just wish all of his fans could have had the chance to know him personally. We lost so much more than an astounding make-up artist and CGI Wizard, we lost one of the truly great men of our age. I've known Stan was really sick for quite some time now, but the last time I saw him he was so full of life and love it seemed impossible that he really was sick. Now it seems impossible that he is gone. It was clear that he was in pain, but he hid it well, I think, so those around him wouldn't worry about him. That's just the kind of man he was. I had the opportunity to speak with Stan, one on one, several times during my last visit to California, just the two of us cruising around the hills of Malibu in one or another of his fast cars. He drove like a maniac, of course, but if you knew him, you know there was no other option. Honestly, having Stan as an uncle never seemed real. Here was a man who was wildly succesful and famous. He was intimate friends with the whose who of Hollywood. He was lauded as the very best in his industry and he was an academy award winner. Despite all of that, he was one of the most genuine, humble, and sincere people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. During the last conversation I had with Stan, he expressed how thankful and grateful he was for his success. He was truly grateful he had been allowed to make a career doing something that he loved so much. I think we all appreciate the fact that Stan loved his work so much, because he truly was amazing at his craft. He touched lives the world over, giving people nightmares and inspiring them to become artists at the same time. During that same conversation Stan spoke to me for the first and only time of his illness. He told me he had enjoyed his life, maybe a little too much, but the one thing he truly regretted was that his health was failing to the point where he knew he wouldn't be around too much longer. He so very badly wanted to see his grandchildren grow up, to be there with his wife and kids. It was painfully obvious how much Stan loved his family. It always has been. Despite the fame and fortune and the star on the hollywood walk of fame, Stan Winston was a family man first. He loved his family, and they loved him. These words here do little justice to the great legacy that is Stan Winston, but hopefully the next time you watch a dinosaur smash a car, or see a terminator walking down the street, you will remember a man who loved his work, loved life, and loved his family. He will be missed. With love, Josh-
"Moriarty" here again with some more tributes that have shown up here at AICN. I'm not surprised to see how much affection there was out there for Stan and his work, and I'm so proud that we are able to offer this forum for members of the community to share their feelings and memories. Tributes are starting to pop up elsewhere, like McG's goodbye to him over at the TERMINATOR blog, but we've gotten in a few more that I wanted to share with you. First up is John Watson, who shared a very particular professional experience with Stan. I'll let him explain:
From John Watson, writer/producer/partner in Trilogy. Hi Harry, Thank you so much for providing this forum for those who loved Stan to share their feelings and memories. I am one of the too-few people who had the opportunity to work with Stan as a director. We collaborated on the under-appreciated ‘Adventures of A Gnome Named Gnorm’. For those of you who missed it – most of you? ;) – it’s a gloriously frivolous demonstration of Stan’s wonderful sense of humor and also his extraordinary talent. Gnorm is a beautifully realized character created by Stan and the brilliant folks at his shop. Almost all of these people are still working there, which as Jim pointed out is a testament to the loyalty he generated within his team. Gnorm is an irresistibly endearing creature, quite unlike his more famous and scarier brethren at the studio. His range of movement and the complex animation of his facial features were ground-breaking at the time – mid 80s, and it was a sadness to Stan that Gnorm wasn’t seen and appreciated by a larger audience. Stan was working in Rome while we were developing the script and one of my fondest memories was breaking the story while exploring the Coliseum together. It was an incongruous environment in which to be imagineering this weird little fantasy film. As most of you know, working with Stan was always fun. His sense of humor was infectious and inspiring. He was rarely without a laugh and a smile even through the inevitable tensions of the production process. Barely a day went by without an excuse for that goofy thing with the glasses or his patented and painful smack to the gonads. He so enjoyed life, and life was always enjoyable in his presence. The movie fell into that all-too-frequent trap of collapsing studios. Vestron financed the film and promptly went out of business before the film was set for release. At one of our many test screenings, Stan and I were sitting near the back and noticed that one section of the audience was especially enthusiastic and reacted wildly at all the right places. So we waited with extreme curiosity for the lights to come back on, to identify these wonderful Gnormophiles. As they exited past us we realized they were a school group of Downes Syndrome kids. Stan said to me: “See, we finally found our perfect demographic!” Then he cracked up. Others have talked about Stan’s extraordinary devotion to his own family. I observed that too, as our friendship continued through the years since ‘Gnorm’ and our families became close. He was also extremely generous to my family. My boys have tons of special memories of him and of his warmth and kindness to them. I have two students at USC Film School who got the thrill of their lives when Stan personally gave them a tour of his studio. He was a giver. The child in Stan was always close to the surface and kids especially responded to him. He made it tough on all of us in his last years with his insistence on us keeping the secret of his illness, but we understood and respected his reasons. I am so grateful for the times we shared and the treasured memories. John Watson
Next up are two of the most difficult to write, I'm sure. Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis are renowned make-up artists in their own right now, but they started their careers under the guidance of Stan, and I'm sure this was like losing family for them. They wrote us separately, so let's hear from Tom first:
Quint, There is a feeling of sadness and loss that grows with each obituary and every posting. Having never expected to see the word "gone" next to Stan Winston's name, the shock of his passing becomes more profound each day. The lucky ones don't always die first. I was lucky. Stan picked me out of a crowd based on a portfolio that showed more promise than accomplishment and my relationship with John Rosengrant and Shane Mahan (one that continues to this day although the passage of time between visits is far too great). From the very beginning, Stan touched me as an artist and a friend and soon became a father-turned-mentor. He was an artist, passionate about his craft and his family and sharing his sense of humor. He was generous with credit, presenting us on stage, his crew, to the audience of the Saturn Awards as the artists behind the success of Terminatoras he accepted what was to become a long list of awards. He was generous with his experience and knowledge. And he was generous with devotion and camaraderie as he'd stand next to your table at the best restaurant in town, his hands in your salad for a laugh. When Alec and I stepped away from under his shadow, it was the beginning of a career that Stan himself helped to propel. He turned Gale Hurd toward us on Tremors and also stood up for our getting the contracts on Death Becomes Her and Alien3. It is a shadow that continues to touch our lives. The outpouring of emotion here shows that Stan has touched so many more people than just those of us lucky enough to know him and to work in movies. It feels unreal and as if something has been forever changed - The day the music died. His name and legacy will live on. God bless you, Stan Winston.
And now, here's Alec to close us out for this update:
Hi Quint and Harry, Thanks so much for the invitation to share our thoughts on Stan. Tom and I haven't been much of a presence on AICN in the past, in fact I had the chance to shake Harry's hand after a long flight once and my introversion got the better of me. Times like this remind me how short life is, and that we might not get a second chance just to take a moment. For that reason I'm impressed with AICN and the fan reaction to Stan's passing. This is a surreal time for us friends and fans of Stan. I keep thinking of CITIZEN KANE as we all reconstruct who Stan was from our own perspectives. All points of view are accurate, even if limited. I was only part of his team for a few short years, but I took away a lifetime of lessons. I met Stan in '84 through Cameron, with whom I'd worked at Roger Corman's. I was sitting in my tiny room in Mar Vista and Stan himself called. He was all business when he explained that Jim had recommended me. I was all nerves when I told him I had turn turn him down because I had just taken work on FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH PART IV. The call was brief, but I managed to wrangle an appointment to show my portfolio anyway. I also got the name of the movie. Something called TERMINATOR. By the time ALIENS rolled around I was a fixture at Stan's studio and reveling in the opportunities he generously gave. It was an incredible period that I don't think we fully appreciated. There was Shane Mahan, John Rosengrant, Richard Landon, Shannon Shea, Rick Lazzarini, Tom Woodruff and myself making up the core of Stan's crew, and screwing around like goofy brothers. INVADERS FROM MARS, ALIENS, PREDATOR, PUMPKINHEAD, LEVIATHAN, MONSTER SQUAD, AMAZING STORIES all were done inside of three years. People assume that what we learned from Stan was "the business". That's partly true, but we also learned "life". Stan was a father figure to all of us young dopes who were too immature or cocky or insecure to really be considered professionals or even adults, but Stan saw something in us he could guide and develop. Here are some quotes from Stan re: "the business", as near accurate as I can remember: "You keep taking chances, pushing the envelope. You can only fail." "Everybody wants to do their best. You just gotta give them the chance." On no longer being hands on: "I used to work with clay to get results. Now people are my clay." On the competition: "I love my competitors! They make me do my best. Thank God for Rick Baker!" One being the best: "Nobody's ever really on top. There's always another movie about to come out to bump you back down, keep you humble!" "Other people may do better work than me, but nobody has more fun!" On Oscars: "You can't do it for the awards. They're just bowling trophies." Written inside every employee Christmas card: "Don't tell the others, but you're my favorite!" On Tom and I: "The things that make you valuable to me are the same things that will pull you away from me." (I didn't know what he meant at the time.) When it came to the life lessons, Stan, ever the family man, never held back advice. He was sometimes annoying, usually correct, and always honest. At age 25, I was on the verge of breaking up with my then girlfriend. The relationship was at the tipping point. It was time to either move to the next phase or call it quits. Into this very personal internal debate boldly stepped Stan Winston. We were invited to a party at he and Karen's beautiful house in the valley. (First time I'd seen a bidet, and squirted it all over the ceiling. Never told him that.) When I introduced him to my girlfriend he started rocking an invisible infant and humming "Rock-A-Bye-Baby". I winced at his lack of subtlety, and he slugged me on the shoulder and said, "Are you crazy? Marry her, you idiot!" We got engaged in London while on ALIENS and this year will be our 22nd anniversary. My 9 year old daughter, youngest of four, cried yesterday when she found out Stan wouldn't see the get well card she colored for him. He was the best boss I ever had. In an era of flat salaries, crazy hours and toxic work environments, he urged us to go home at a sensible time ("You're no good to me tomorrow if you're dead on your feet."), paid O.T. and made sure his shop passed OSHA inspections. He'd shrug off our thanks by saying that "happy workers are more productive than unhappy ones." Wisdom, kindness and humility all at once. He urged us all to buy houses and gave us the jobs to afford them, offered 401ks, had cakes at every employee's birthday and gave Christmas bonuses. We put up a basketball hoop at his house for his son's birthday, his kids helped around the shop, and we'd all laugh as he'd mock grovel at the feet of his mentor, famed Disney makeup artist Bob Schiffer. All you folks are right. All your impressions of the man and his work are correct. He had his detractors, and in some way they are right too. Nobody's perfect. But no matter what you thought of him, he helped all of us in the practical Creature / Makeup effects industry tremendously. Not just by hiring us, but through his tireless promotion of the art which made his name synonymous with "Creature Effects" and gave the world an appreciation of what we do. We lesser accomplished artists rose to heights by riding his slipstream. He always said, "You have to fight for everything in this business." Fight he did. No one gained more ground than Stan. Whenever ADI reached an impasse with a studio lawyer, we'd simply ask for the same deal they gave Stan on his last film. At that, you could hear sphincters creak and teeth grind. Favored nations with Stan was favorable indeed. To moviegoers he gave a pantheon of characters unlike any other since or hence. To the fans of "real" effects, he pushed back against the digital onslaught, even while co-founding Digital Domain. He knew that CG was a means to an end to be utilized as a tool, not to supplant the movie or knock the viewer out of the reality of the story. I'm only one of many who came through Stan's studio, (sprung from Zeus' head, I guess) so I shouldn't go on too long. I didn't intend to, but hey, it's cathartic. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my limited point of view of my mentor, our mentor. And damned if he didn't leave us on Father's Day. Here's one last quote. I once asked him if he was afraid of death: "Nah. Life is such an adventure, I figure death will be too." All the best to Stan's wonderful family, his friends, his fans. We'll miss him. alec gillis
Quint here again. I have two new stories about Stan Winston for you. First up is Sandy Collora, who worked with Stan on the effects side and directed the well known fan film BATMAN: DEAD END. Here are his thoughts on Mr. Winston:
Hey guys, Sandy Collora here. Stan Winston was a very special man to me. He gave me my first job in this business when I was a mere 18 years old. I've had the good fortune to have had worked at his studio on such films as "Leviathan", "Alien Nation", and "Predator 2". I also was very lucky to work with Stan personally on designing and developing creatures for some of his personal pet projects. The talented people I met and worked with there, taught me so much and the time I spent at Stan Winston Studios was instrumental in shaping the creative person I am today. Through Stan's talent, humor, and "tough love" approach to what he did, he inspired me voluminously to pursue my efforts not only as an artist, but a director as well. I remember, on "Leviathan" I got in a pretty major car wreck and he came to see me in the hospital. He was a great guy and always made time when my parents were in town, to show them around the shop and let my little brother play with the Terminator endoskeleton's fingers... Weird, I remember that like it was yesterday, but it was 20 years ago... Wow. I'm sad he's gone. I'm sad I can never go to him for advice anymore, and I'm sad he'll never see my first feature film, which in many ways, he inspired... Of Stan I can say this; His contributions to this industry and the art of special effects cannot be measured, but his contributions to the people he's mentored, inspired, and lives he's touched, are even greater still. You're an Icon, Stan. One of a kind... You will be missed. SC
Next up is Richard Taylor, another champion of practical effects work who leads Weta Workshop and some of the best designers, sculptors, artists and model-builders in the world. I asked him for an anecdote about Stan and this is what he had:
Hi Eric Here is my little story about Stan. Tania and I wanted to make a trip to LA to meet some of the people responsible for the effects work on many Hollywood movies. We wrote letters to a number of Workshops and very kindly the guys at KNB, Rick Baker and Steve Johnson invited us to visit. We wrote to Stan Winston’s and also got a favourable reply inviting us in to look around. We made our way to the States and on the morning of the visit to Stan’s facility we arrived early filled with expectation and excitement. Sadly though, on presenting ourselves to the reception desk we were told that due to confidentialities on a new project we would be unable to now have the tour as promised. We were disappointed but understood the changing nature surrounding this issue. We got chatting to the receptionist who asked us where we were from, what we did and what we were working on. By total chance as we made our last answer, which was the fact that we were about to embark on the (failed 1996) remake of King Kong with Peter Jackson, Stan happened to walk past the reception area. He overheard this snippet of conversation and graciously welcomed us into his facility with open arms. We spent the next two hours in Stan’s company getting a personal tour of all of his facilities, meeting all the people we had only known through Cinefex magazine articles and getting to see an amazing array of stuff. I found the visit to be immensely inspiring – as were our visits to the other facilities we were so lucky to have had a look inside. At the end of our tour Stan kindly offered to show us his showreel and it was reassuring to see that he struggled with exactly the same thing we all do in our own facilities – he attempted to do the simple task of rolling his showreel for us only to discover that someone had been messing around with the audio visual equipment and turned the whole thing to custard. Stan was deeply apologetic but very thankful when finally the thing kicked in and we were able to sit together and watch this wonderful reel. This was the only time we met Stan but it was a wonderful few hours spent with a very enthusiastic individual that treated us as peers and was very giving with his time and knowledge. From all at the Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand we send our deepest sympathy to Stan’s family and all the team at Stan Winston Studios. Richard Taylor Weta Workshop
Quint here once more with a few more thoughts, this time from KNB's Greg Nicotero and Bob Kurtzman. We also have words from Sideshow Collectibe's Scott Klauder as well as a man named Shannon Shea who worked with Stan on many projects and Jim Charmatz who is still at Stan Winston Studios and works as a concept designer. Nicotero is up first:
I moved to Los Angeles in 1985, immediately after wrapping production on DAY OF THE DEAD. The 1st film I was hired on was INVADERS FROM MARS at Stan Winston Studios. Since he was shooting ALIENS at the same time, they had a substantial crew working 7 days a week. My first walk through of the shop had displays from TERMINATOR, artwork from THE THING and designs from ALIENS adorning the walls. I was thrilled to see such amazing work up close and personal and was struck by the talented artists that Stan attracted. He was a tireless showman and his studio was truly inspirational. It was here that I met people that would change my life. Shannon Shea, Gino Crognale, to name a few. The caliber of artists that were cultivate by Stan are countless….Steve Wang, Matt Rose, Mike Trcic, Dave Nelson, of course Howard Berger and Bob Kurtzman who eventually became my partners. Stan took make-up effects and creature work to a whole new level, employing make-up, animatronics and puppet technology at the height of its popularity. It was this blend of techniques that I feel contributed dramatically to the crossover between various effects techniques even today with practical and digital creature work….always fool the audience…keep them guessing. The work in JURASSIC PARK literally floored me….cutting from this amazing full size T Rex to a walking digital creature in 1 shot was sheer genius. Stan’s imagination and vision have left a legacy that will continue to inspire film makers AND film goers for decades to come. Greg Nicotero
That was from the N of KNB. Now we hear from the K:
I had the great pleasure and privilege of working with the Stan early in my career on Predator, Aliens, and Invaders from Mars. Stan was an incredibly generous person, family man, and artist who gave me the opportunity, at a very young age, to learn from him and the talented team at Stan Winston Studio. His creations inspired not only me, but a generation of artists. He was a true master of movie magic and he will never be forgotten. Robert Kurtzman
Next is Scott Klauder from Sideshow Collectibles who worked with Stan Winston to bring some of his creations to the collectibles market. You might remember that amazing Pumpkinhead they put out a couple years back. Here's Mr. Klauder's words about Stan:
I had the honor of meeting Stan twice, and wrote something that I thought I'd share. For those unfamiliar, Sideshow Collectibles and Stan Winston Studios have enjoyed a relationship of bringing some of the most incredible collectibles to life for over 5 years now. To create a collectible of a movie icon is one thing, but when the masters for that item are developed by the actual effects company that worked on the film, well then, we're talking magic. I met Stan Winston on two occasions, once when I accompanied our Creative Director, Tom Gilliland, to Stan's shop. We were picking up the masters for the Pumpkinhead maquette. To tell you the truth, I was intimidated at first. I mean, these guys had created some of the creatures that got me into this business. For me to walk through those doors and, not only see all of that but then to be greeted with a hand shake and a smile by the man responsible for it all, let's just say I was speechless. The man treated me as though he had known me for years. He was polite, attentive, and most of all proud. Proud of the world that he had built around him. Proud of the people he had surrounded himself with. Proud of what he had dedicated every day of his life to for close to 40 years! I was a 1 year old when Stan established Stan Winston Studio, and here he was shaking my hand. The second time I saw him was at San Diego Comic Con in 2007. He came by while we were setting up, again with a handshake and a smile. As he gushed over one of our Iron Man pieces, he began to tell us about his excitement and enthusiasm over working on the movie. When he was told that Sideshow was licensed to make product for the movie, Stan simply said "Well, what are we waiting for!" and the 1/1 Iron Man bust was born. His love and enthusiasm for the industry, the art, and the people around him is inspiring. I will miss him, and I will cherish the few minutes I got to spend with him, this master of monsters, this creator of worlds, this architect of icons, Stan Winston. Scott Klauder Production Manager Sideshow Collectibles
Next is a guy named Jim Charmatz, a concept designer at Stan Winston Studios.
Guys, I wanted to thank you for the tribute you set up for Stan. It has enabled many of the people in his life to express the most wonderful sentiments about him and is giving us all a place to read these collected works. I'm not asking you to post this as my name is not known like the many already there, but as Alec Gillis wrote, it's cathartic. I started working for Stan on March 21, 1994 (the day he won the Oscar for Jurassic Park) and I never worked for any other effects house since. Like he did for so many others, Stan saw my potential from the first days of my employment and he immediately took advantage. He had an incredible knack for seeing the strengths in people, no matter how hidden, and developing them. When computers became a viable tool for design, he encouraged many of us to embrace the 3D arts and learn the latest software to achieve the best results...all on his time. Stan gave me the opportunity to build a solid career cultivated from a vast variety of skills that, had it not been for him, I might not have ever had the chance to develop. For that, I am eternally grateful. During my 14yrs with Stan I've worked as a mold maker, sculptor, painter, and designer and feel very lucky that I was able to work intimately with him on so many projects through the years. The project I feel most fortunate to have worked on was not movie, but his book "The Winston Effect," for which Stan trusted me to art direct. I am proud to say I worked for Stan Winston, not just because of the mark he made on cinematic history, but more importantly because of Stan, the man... and my relationship with him. He accepted me into his talented extended “family" all the while sharing his wonderful, goofy sense of humor, true kindness and wisdom that was often profound. It's hard to believe he's gone but we'll move forward and do our best to carry on the Winston name with the same quality of work that we always strove for with Stan at the helm. Jim Charmatz Conceptual Designer Stan Winston Studio
Finally for this round of updates is Shannon Shea. I met Shannon on the set of The Mist and he is, without a doubt, a superior geek. He is like us and exactly how we'd be if we got to work on these movies. I remember fondly our pow-wow in the misty parking lot... sitting around bullshitting about sci-fi and fantasy films with Shannon, the KNB crew and the awesome KNB designed and executed spider maquette. One of the films my friend Kraken and I hounded Shea about was Predator. He talks a bit about working with Mr. Winston on that film below. I hope you enjoy it
Hey guys - Sorry this has taken so long to write, but I've been on set for DRAG ME TO HELL working strange hours. Strange hours that have only become more difficult coping with the loss of not just a friend, but a father figure for myself and many that worked for many years at his studio. I've been reading all of the heartfelt and insightful posts that have been written by colleagues and friends and I'm not sure what more can be said without just sounding redundant. Stan hired me in 1985 with only three previous projects under my belt as a mold maker on ALIENS. During that time, Stan employed not just his "lifers" (a term that none of us liked), but Kevin Yagher, Tony Gardner, Howard Berger, Robert Kurtzman, Rick Lazzarini, Dave Nelson, Brian Penikas, and Everett Burrell all of whom broke out and formed their own make up effects companies. As you can see, Stan was the well-spring. He was the source. He was the inspiration and the model. Stan's fair business practices and unwavering pursuit of excellence was only surpassed by his stubborn belief that nothing was impossible. During MONSTER SQUAD, Joel Silver, John McTiernan and Beau Marx came to the shop with a quandary. They had been filming a movie in Puerto Vallarta and their monster was not meeting their expectations. Putting the film on hold and listening to the counsel of their leading man, Arnold Schwarzenegger , they had come to Stan to bail them out. The project was PREDATOR and the task that lay ahead was enormous. It didn't matter that his core team was still finishing MONSTER SQUAD. It didn't matter that we had weeks to not just provide something to film, but having to surpass what had already been provided. None of that mattered. Stan knew, he just knew that we could do it and it would be fantastic. I'll say this now 22 years later. None of us knew that the PREDATOR would become an icon. A symbol synonymous with Stan and the studio at that time. We were too busy getting the work done at break neck speed. Stan was at the top of his game on that show. No longer shooting in the resort location of Puerto Vallarta, we, instead filmed the reshoots in the jungles of Palenque. I cannot stress this enough - it was a real jungle. Our first night there, we were driven up the side of a mountain to meet with John McTiernan at company wrap. John had a glass of scotch in his hand and led us on a tour of where the fight between Arnold and the Predator would happen. As production shut down, so did the lights and we found ourselves in a Mexican jungle with just the ambient light of the moon to show the way. Then came the bats. McTiernan continued his blocking with us as bats zipped passed our heads. Stan finally convinced John that we should head back to base camp and as we ascended a hill, Shane Mahan plucked a long reed of grass and started flicking it past Stan's ears. "F-ing BATS!" Stan cried as we headed back to camp unaware of the practical joke. But that was Stan. He wanted us to have fun. He encouraged us to immerse ourselves in the experiences of being on location in distant lands. If it wasn't worth laughing it wasn't worth doing. Upon our return to the United States, Stan gave me my Blue Cross health insurance papers - his way of saying that I was part of his permanent team. He adopted me and had called me "his last son". One of the last times I saw Stan was at a San Diego Comic convention. I was with my daughter and friends and saw Stan across the room. To those outside of his studio, few believed that Stan LOVED Jerry Lewis and LOVED imitating him. I caught his eye and in my best Lewis voice yelled "LADY!" In a flash, Stan cocked his glasses on his face and launched into his Jerry Lewis schtick repeating "Lady! LAAA-DY!" at the top of his lungs surrounded by his fans. There are too many stories, too much history, too many people, too many projects, too many emotions for me to effectively attempt to portray someone who had become a surrogate father to me. When I was completing my tenure at his studio, Stan pulled me aside and told me that not only would the studio be okay without me, but I would be okay without the studio. Like so many others, I moved on professionally, but not without learning profound lessons that would effect the way I work and live to this day. Shannon Shea
Quint here again. I have a big batch of updates to this Stan Winston tribute from many of his colleagues. I can't tell you the outpouring of affection I've been receiving from the readers about the man. He meant a lot to many of us and thanks to those who have contributed so far we've been allowed to get to know him a little.
To further that, I'm going to kick off this round of updates with a picture of Stan, nearly 20 years old, cradling a friend's newborn daughter, Molly:
That look on his face... we've heard it described a dozen times so far. Happiness and goofiness mixed. Here's the letter from the mother:
The baby that Stan is holding in that photo is Molly Shea, my daughter...well, as far as I know.
You see, Stan and Karen were among the first to hold our newborn girl. Our parents were still in our native New Orleans so the surrogate Winston parents showed up months before her birth grandparents would arrive.
And yes, what an expression he has on his face! When I told Stan that we were going to name her Molly, he threatened to fire me. That was until he held her and told us that she was a perfect little Molly.
Matt, Debbie, sorry for the confusion!
Let's start with Nick Dudman, one of the creators of the Harry Potter Creature department in London.
Hi Harry, I was lucky enough to meet Stan on a couple of occasions: once when he was in England prepping "Aliens", and once when I worked on "Interview with the Vampire" in New Orleans. I wish I had known him better. He was a wide-eyed, over excited gentleman, and it was a pleasure to meet an icon who actually lived up to the image I had of him. When I set up the Harry Potter Creature department, running crews of 50 to 120 at a time, I remembered my tour of his shop, and especially the atmosphere there. Stan provided his gifted artists with a wonderful environment, he actively helped them give their best...I took that with me, you are only as good as your crew, they are your hands and your eyes; treat them well. (Tho' James Cameron is absolutely correct- it is like herding cats...pedigree cats). His contribution to our craft is colossal; he set a wonderful standard making a worldwide network of artists all try to outdo themselves and him. The former happened a lot, the latter rarely if ever. We should never forget the standards he set. From Hogwarts, to one of this world's only real wizards: Thank you Stan, for paving the way. We miss you. Nick Dudman
Next up is Aaron Sims, who worked closely with Mr. Winston for AI:
Stan Winston was a visionary. I began working for him in late 2000, and during my first week there the film AI started development. I was responsible for several of the robot concepts, and Stan asked me to do a few of them using a new 3D animation program that I had been using. Until that time, all of my designs were done with pen and paper or Photoshop; I hadn’t considered designing anything using animation software, but Stan encouraged me to do it. After the first few designs, all of us – Stan, myself, and Steven Spielberg – were taken aback by this new way of looking at concept art. Stan knew the next wave when he saw it, and soon thereafter he asked me to lead his new digital animation department. It was a real honor to have him entrust me with that responsibility, and I’ll always be grateful to him for that. He was a real pioneer in this industry, and I’m so thankful and fortunate to have had him as a mentor and friend. He will be greatly missed. Aaron Sims The Aaron Sims Company
Next up we have Randy from Action Figure Times:
Quint, This tribute is a wonderful idea and I'm glad that AICN is fronting it. I'm glad I'm not the only one stunned by his sudden death. Editing and writing Action Figure Times for so many years now, I’ve been fortunate enough meet a lot of varied and different people. From porn stars to playmates, artists of all types that work in pen & ink to clay & foam to mouse & computer, I’ve met many amazing people. But you don’t meet many Academy-Award winners and you sure don’t forget a four-time Academy Award winner. I was lucky to meet and talk with Stan a couple of times in the early millennium, mostly involving his work with Stan Winston Toys. Some at comic shops, Comic Con or even at his studio. What many others who have worked with him have said about him is true. He was affable, always upbeat and treated everyone as if they were old friends come to visit. But his influence came to me more from the “house” he built more rather than anything else. When I first moved to California in the early 90’s, I was working minimum wage for a toy store (you know-the one with the dyslexic letter in its name!) in the San Fernando Valley and without a car. During my time there walking the aisles, I noted guys coming in checking on toys wearing a cool Stan Winston FX t-shirt. Over time, I found out that his effects house was only one street over! After helping one of the guys get a much needed Christmas toy for his son, he asked if I wanted something for my trouble. “Yeah, a job a Stan’s,” I responded. He chucked and said “How ‘bout a t-shirt and a tour of the place?” Score! It was another few months before he made good but it was worth the wait. So on a hot afternoon in July, I got to visit a non-descript, set of industrial buildings. But there on the ground was a reserved parking sign… for Stan Winston. After going through a very paranoid receptionist and signing my life away, I got into the place proper. This when they were working on CONGO as well as doing work trying to win a gig for a BIG monster film (I STILL can’t say it but A)they didn’t do the film and B)I’m sure the Japanese are quite happy that he didn’t!). The place was packed with people working hard and making some incredible stuff. But what I remember most is the Meeting Room. If you ever saw his special effects show on AMC during the 90’s or read his book, “The Winston Effect”, you know what room I’m talking about. But for me that first time in, I’ve always thought of it as the “Holy S—t!” Room! That’s all I could think because the walls were jammed with Winston’s work. The stuff of legend.
A T-800 Endoskeleton. Damaged Arnold Terminator. Predator. Pumpkinhead. A full-size Velociraptor. A full-size Queen Alien Head. Edward Scissorhands. A full-size T-Rex Head. The monsters of MONSTER SQUAD. True Icons of Film. These were representative of some of my most influential movies, the ones that made me want to be a part of film-making, to write scripts, to go to film school, to move three thousand miles to California. And they were there, stilled life waiting for the call of "Action!" The Dream of Film in physical form. If you don’t get inspired by all that creativity in one room, then you shouldn’t be film fan. But I felt that inspiration, that energy... and I’m sure Stan knew that effect would be there. So after many years, I’m still out here chasing the Dream of Film. Why? Because the Dream of Film can be real. People like Stan Winston brought it to life. You left us too soon, Stan. You still had more people to inspire. See you on the other side. Randy of AFTimes aka Andrew Gaughen
Next we have Rebecca Himot who used to work for Stan. The Christmas Party story told below really had an affect on me:
Quint, I’m a nobody, so if you guys don’t want to print this letter I totally understand. But I figured I’d share just the same. When I was 12, I sat in the theater as the credits of Edward Scissorhands rolled, waiting for that vital piece of information. Stan’s credit came up and I turned to my mother and said “I am going to work for that man.” She laughed at me but I was never so serious about anything. Lacking the essential talents and skills, I figured an office job would be my best bet. So 10 years later, I managed to secure just that. I had that same fear everyone else did, that my hero would never be able to live up to my expectations. But boy, was I wrong. Stan was every inch the hero, and always shined the light on those around him. Every day that Stan was in the building, he’d do his “rounds.” And every day, he’d come in to my office and thank me for my hard work. He was the kind of guy you wanted to hang out with, with a mischievous and childlike streak that made you feel like you were in on some private joke. I think one of the most telling moments of my short time there was during a production meeting, when Stan was literally twitching in his seat… and after a while he confessed that his new video game had arrived and he wanted to get back to it as soon as possible. It was a tight year, projects were getting delayed and I got swept up in a round of unfortunate lay-offs. Stan reminded me that I was still expected at the Christmas party that year. And at that party, he handed me my gift, gave me a hug and whispered in my ear: “I’m so sorry. I promise I’ll do everything I can to get you back to work.” It didn’t work out, but I would never forget his words or his kindness. Stan believed, and it made you want to believe, too. He was genuine, brilliant, and passionate. The world is forever better and brighter for his having been in it. Rebecca Himot
And last up for this round is Tara Crocitto who worked herself up the ranks at Stan Winston Studios over the years and ended up one of the VPs of the company.
Hi Harry, Thank you for this opportunity. I had the privilege of working with Stan for just over 11 years. My stint there was initially a temp position. Truth be it known, it was a glorified front office clerk/office manager and after working my way ‘up the ranks’ an assistant to Stan and ultimately one of five v.p.s at his Studio. It is a woman’s take, if you will. So here is the chick flick, the soft side and what I was so blessed to have been a part of: I moved to Los Angeles from New York. I was signed with a bi-costal employment agency of sorts. They were sending me out on a job call. I had no idea where I was going or what the job was. Only that they were sending me on an interview for an office management position, somewhere in Van Nuys, California. That alone was odd because I had no idea where the heck that was! After cruising up and down the street lost and I should say a lit