I grew up reading Cinefex, the journal of cinematic illusions. As a teenager, I made regular pilgrimages to London with my movie-mad mates where I scoured the shelves of Forbidden Planet – then just a grungy little comic shop off Tottenham Court Road – in the hope of stumbling on a new issue of this strangely-shaped quarterly publication imported from America. Falling inside its pages, I explored the mysterious world of motion picture visual effects, and learned the secrets behind the fabulous imagery that inspired me in films like Star Wars, Blade Runner, Dragonslayer, Raiders of the Lost Ark and many, many more.
Roughly four decades on, I’m proud to now be working full-time for Cinefex as senior staff writer, and doubly proud to be part of issue 169, the magazine’s 40th anniversary special. Cinefex 169 is the result of months of planning, and just as many months of hard work, and the whole team is thrilled to bits with the end result.
My first contribution to Cinefex 169 is The Illusionists, a giant roundtable in which 21 visual effects Academy Award-winners discuss the past, present and future of visual effects. Of course, I couldn’t really get 21 Oscar-winners round the same table. So I did the next best thing. I interviewed everyone individually – amassing 14 hours of recordings in the process – and then sculpted their responses into a single conversation that flows naturally from topic to topic.
The Illusionists gave me the perfect excuse to call up a whole bunch of those people I’d admired for years – and about whom I’d read in those copies of Cinefex I’d eagerly snapped up in my youth. The best part was that everyone – from Star Wars veterans like Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren, John Dykstra and Ken Ralston, to effects superstars like Joe Letteri, Rob Legato and Paul Franklin – responded to my interview requests with the same enthusiasm. “You’re celebrating 40 years of Cinefex?” they’d say. “Count me in!”
The same enthusiasm was evident in the two interviewees I landed for the magazine’s showcase collection The Visionaries. For this, the Cinefex editorial team conducted brand new, exclusive interviews with four pioneering filmmakers who have defined and evolved the art and craft of visual effects through their careers. The two filmmakers on my slate need no introduction, but I’ll introduce them anyway.
First up, I spent over an hour on the phone with James Cameron. You know the guy – you’ve seen his films 100 times, from The Terminator to Aliens, Titanic to Avatar. We spoke at length about not only his incredible back catalogue, but also the cutting edge work he’s been doing on the upcoming Avatar sequels. If you want to learn about some of the amazing things Jim’s got up his sleeve, this is the interview for you.
Second, I spoke with Robert Zemeckis, who took us Back to the Future, asked us Who Framed Roger Rabbit, sat us down on a bench with Forrest Gump and waved us gleefully aboard The Polar Express. The man known as BobZ is famously taciturn, but he was just as keen as Cameron to speak to Cinefex. We spoke about films old and new, and he told me exactly why he believes the filmmaker’s primary goal is to create spectacle.
That’s only the half of it. The Visionaries also features Cinefex editor-in-chief Jody Duncan’s interview with Christopher Nolan, whose eagerly awaited film Tenet is the latest in a long line of innovative productions from the Dark Knight trilogy, to Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk.
Last and most definitely not least, Cinefex associate editor Joe Fordham achieved the impossible when he coaxed George Lucas into participating in a brand new, insightful interview in which the man who created Star Wars shares his thoughts on filmmaking, creativity, visual effects and much more.
As if all that wasn’t enough, issue 169 also contains mammoth Cinefex coverage of the hit Disney+ series The Mandalorian, and the conclusion to the Skywalker saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
The entire Cinefex team put heart and soul into this 40th anniversary issue. The print edition is available now at newsstands and from the online store, and the expanded iPad edition is available to download from the App Store. There’s a wealth of material inside that you won’t find anywhere else. So go get it, people!
- Buy Cinefex 169 from the online store
- Download the Cinefex iPad app
- Save money with a Cinefex print subscription