Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Causing Effects: Meet the Gay and Lesbian Digital Artists Behind Hollywood's Splashiest Special Effects

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Causing Effects: Meet the Gay and Lesbian Digital Artists Behind Hollywood's Splashiest Special Effects

Article excerpt

The world of movie visual effects is, like most artistic arenas, peopled by a high percentage of gay men and lesbians, but that doesn't mean some aspects of this multifaceted profession are any more welcoming. "In some positions in production it can be a serious issue," explains effects supervisor Joe Bauer on the phone from the set of Blade: Trinity in Vancouver, Canada. Bauer, whose other credits include Elf and Final Destination 2, started his career in television on the last season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the first season of Star Trek: Voyager; tie has confronted homophobia on many occasions. "Film sets are predominantly straight, and I've had to deal with it time and time again," he says. "I came out on The Next Generation, and when I did I was quite a crusader, but you get disheartened after a while. I find it's best not to say anything and [to] get through the show being non-confrontational."

Once the shoot is over, however, postproduction facilities tend to have little time or tolerance for homophobic attitudes. "There are too many of us out there that are making an impact," explains George Suhayda, a senior visual effects art director currently working on the intimated family movie The Polar Express. "It's an artistically oriented and fiercely competitive environment, and can't be about sexual orientation. The focus is always on the movie."

Jay Redd agrees. He is a visual effects supervisor based at Sony Pictures Imageworks whose most recent credits are The Haunted Mansion mid Stuart Little 2. "There are a lot of fringe people in effects," he says. "People on the edge of trends and styles. At Imageworks you get people coming in wearing suits as well as shorts and T-shirts; with orange hair, tattoos, piercings; a straight guy who wears women's clothes to work. You can be who you want to be. Everything's so open."

Redd became immersed in special effects as a teenager in Utah by combining art and computer technology in high school. He came out when he moved to Los Angeles to take a job at effects facility Rhythm and Hues at the age of 21 in 1993. Like many gay teen overachievers, he says, he channeled his energies into his creative passions to compensate for the drawbacks of being in the closet in the Mormon state. "L.A. had a big impact on my life," he explains. "At Rhythm and Hues, I started working on the film Babe and started a relationship with a coworker, which lasted four years."

Steve Schweicart is following in Redd's footsteps. He has been in Los Angeles for less than a year and is working as an animation coordinator at Rhythm and Hues on the Scooby-Doo sequel. …

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