Dennis Muren

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Dennis Muren, A.S.C.
Dennis Muren.jpg
Muren at the International Press Academy’s 12th Annual Satellite Awards, December 16, 2007
Born (1946-11-01) November 1, 1946 (age 69)
Glendale, California
Occupation Visual effects artist & supervisor

Dennis Muren, ASC (born November 1, 1946) is an American film special effects artist & supervisor, most notable for his work on the films of Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and George Lucas. He has won nine Oscars for Best Visual Effects.

Early life[edit]

Muren was born in Glendale, California, the son of Charline Louise (née Clayton) and Elmer Ernest Muren.[1] He developed an interest in film-making and special effects from an early age. While studying business at Pasadena City College, Muren spent $6500 to make Equinox, a short science fiction film. Tonylyn Productions, a small film company, liked the film enough to distribute it. Tonylyn hired film editor Jack Woods to direct additional footage in order to make Equinox into a feature-length movie. When the feature-length Equinox was released in October 1970, Muren was credited as a producer in spite of having directed much of the film and creating the special effects himself. Despite mixed to poor reviews the movie made enough money for Muren to recoup his $8000 investment, and in the years since it has become a minor cult classic.


After earning his associate's degree, Muren began working as a visual effects artist full-time. In 1976, Muren was hired at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), then an upstart visual effects studio founded by George Lucas. Lucas' and ILM's first film, Star Wars, was released in 1977 to wide critical and public acclaim and was the highest grossing film of all time up until that point.

Muren has been an important voice for pioneering new technologies in special effects. Muren spearheaded ILM's move from models and miniatures to CGI for the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day. In a 2000 interview, he stated that Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the film of which he was most proud.

Muren, along with Steve Williams and Mark Dippe, helped to usher in a new age of computer generated imagery with the CG dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. Steven Spielberg had intended to use go-motion for the dinosaurs, but quickly changed his mind when shown a test of a CG T-Rex (with Marin County as the backdrop). Jurassic Park was the breakthrough that convinced George Lucas that technology had advanced enough to make the Star Wars prequels. Muren also contributed effects work on two Jurassic Park sequels: The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic World.

In June 1999, Muren was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the first visual effects artist to ever be so recognized. He has also been the recipient of nine Academy Awards (including special achievement awards), the most of any living movie-maker.

Muren continues to work for ILM to this day; his title is Senior creative Executive. Currently he is taking time off to author a book on visual effects; he also consults for Pixar. His most recent project was War of the Worlds, in which he led a team to create complex effects in a span of only three months.

He has a small, non-speaking role in Raiders of the Lost Ark as a spy. Standing in for an absent Ronald Lacey as Major Toht, due to their similarity in facial appearance (though great variation in height), he's the man who looks over the Life Magazine as Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) boards the passenger plane. Muren also has a cameo in the theme park attraction, Star Tours.

Dennis is married to British documentary filmmaker of "Dream of The Sea Ranch" and landscape architect Zara Muren, and they have two children together. They currently live in California.


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