Welcome to the TCS "MIMIC" page!

In 1996, Thom Randmaa from Digital Domain called me up and sent me a fax. He recommended me to the up-and-coming Mexican director, Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro was going to direct a short film to be included in an anthology film, entitled "Lightyears". Miramax's genre arm, Dimension Films ("Scream") had hired new, hot directors like del Toro, Bryan Singer, Allison Anders, and others to contribute a short film apiece. The budget on the small film didn't allow for either Digital Domain to do the visual effects nor for it's co-owner, Stan Winston, to do the animatronic and makeup effects.

But while at DD, Guillermo viewed their reel, which contained some of our Bud Frog work. After seeing our work with the frogs, the "Outbreak" monkey, and the "Dumbo Drop" elephant, he liked our ability to produce creature effects with extreme realism in their cosmetics as well as their movements. Stuart Cornfeld, the producer of "The Fly" and "Elephant Man", was going to produce Guillermo's portion of "Lightyears" and so brought him to meet with me. Guillermo brought some rough macquettes with him and told me about the short story his film would be based on.

"Mimic", by Donald Wollheim, was a brief, creepy story of a shadowy, weird man in the neighborhood. When he didn't emerge from his apartment for awhile, some concerned neighbors inspected it. Inside, they found him dead. But upon opening his coat, they found that they were the leathery wings of a bug, and that the man was in fact a giant insect who had taken of the form of a man. Scattered around his dingy apartment were shiny bits of trash, string, and other debris he'd collected over the years. Cool.

Guillermo and I hit it off, I drew up a budget, and I signed on to create the creature effects for his short film. We began an R&D period, working out how the more difficult pieces would work.

But then "Four Rooms" (another Miramax anthology film) came out, bombed ungracefully, and Miramax/Dimension made the (arguably dubious) decision that "anthology films don't work" and "Lightyears" was scrapped.

"Don't worry", I was told. "They want to turn "Mimic" into a full feature". Yeah. Like I was going to hold my breath while they wrote up a new feature length script based on a short film based on an even shorter story.

Well, folks, here it is two years later, and what an adventure it was. "Mimic" was the most challenging, stressful, mind-racking, difficult job I've had to date. It was also the most rewarding. After a six month build involving 70 creature FX crew members, drastic changes, additions, rewrites, and cuts. 5 months shooting in cold, snowy Toronto, and about seven round trips, L.A. to Canada, Dimension has released a film that has received incredible amounts of critical praise, and that is breaking even as it finishes its' second week in release.

I'm glad I waited for the script to get done. (I confess, though, that I cheated and took a couple of breaths!).

On this page, and on others soon to follow, I will be putting up designs, pictures, and stories from behind the scenes of creating "Mimic". While the film had a mood to preserve, I've heard from certain people that you couldn't see the creature clearly enough. Actually, in the film "Alien", that's pretty much the same case. It's an approach that keeps up the suspense while keeping the look of the creature a mystery. It wasn't until the "Book of Alien" and articles in Cinefantastique came out that we saw the true genius of a new, classical movie monster.

Though I and my company did a lot of hard work, I must give a thankful nod to Tyruben Ellingson, the main creature designer, Rob Bottin, who worked as a design consultant, Gordon Smith, who provided additional "Overcoat Man" designs and constructions, Brian Jennings, the visual FX Supervisor, the geniuses at CGI houses C.O.R.E and Hybride, and of course, most of all, to Guillermo del Toro. Together, we created a seamless mix of animatronic and computer-generated effects that have resulted in what, I hope, will become another in a venerable line of classic movie monsters.

It is my intent to create, with the help of Guillermo, Ty, and others, our own "Book of Mimic". This project will provide a foundation and a sneak peek for that book. To that end, I must emphasize that all text and photos on this site are copyrighted. Duplication and dissemination of images and text from this site can only be after permission is requested and granted, in writing. I thank you for your understanding, and hope you enjoy the site.

To start off, here's a little .jpg copy of our "MIMIC" Cinefex ad (click on it to see it twice the size)...



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