Special effects guru Philip Brennan set for Oscars

Charlize Theron in Snow White and the Huntsman
Charlize Theron in Snow White and the Huntsman
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A SPECIAL effects expert from the Capital could see his name in lights after he was nominated for an Oscar.

And if Philip Brennan gets the chance to make an acceptance speech, he’ll certainly have a tale to tell.

Philip Brennan has been nominated for an Oscar

Philip Brennan has been nominated for an Oscar

The former Stewart’s Melville house captain wanted to keep his 45th birthday under wraps while working on superhero sequel The Wolverine – only to be left red-faced when Hollywood A-lister Hugh Jackman decided to serenade him.

Philip, who grew up in Barnton, has been nominated for the glittering prize for his work on Snow White and the Huntsman, which starred Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron.

He said it felt “quite surreal” to be nominated for the film industry’s highest accolade, but that the experience was nowhere near as strange as the moment Jackman proved he hadn’t strained his vocal chords too badly in Les Miserables.

Philip, who now lives in Los Angeles with his wife Yuriko, said: “We are now on post- production of Wolverine II, but we did a lot of filming in Australia and Japan, which was an amazing experience. My birthday fell on one of the days when we were in Australia but I tried to keep it quiet.

“But Hugh Jackman found out and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me in front of everyone. I realise some people would probably not complain about that, but I really don’t like to be the centre of attention.”

Philip left the Capital around 20 years ago to move to LA, where he landed a job with production company Asylum.

In two decades there he worked on such blockbusters as Moulin Rouge, Minority Report and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy and in 2004 was honoured at Hollywood’s Visual Effects Awards.

He then went freelance and was snapped up to work on Snow White, where he brought the storybook world to life.

“We had pretty much everything except spaceships in this film,” he said. “One major challenge was the dwarves, who were being played by normal-height actors but had to look smaller than everyone else.

“Due to our time limit and budget, coupled with the sheer number of scenes they were featured in, there were some who questioned whether it could be done. But using a combination of visual effects and camera tricks we managed to make it work.”

The Academy Awards are on February 24, where Philip and co-nominees Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson are up against SFX teams from The Hobbit, Prometheus, Avengers Assemble and Life of Pi.

He said: “This year is particularly competitive. I’m so proud to be in this group, it probably represents the best work ever done in visual effects. There’s almost nothing that can’t be achieved now, and so many scripts that were once deemed unfilmable because the technology wasn’t there, or because it was too expensive, are now being adapted for the screen, which is very exciting.

“I want to stress though, that while we four have been named in the nomination, the film was the work of literally hundreds of people who all deserve as much credit.”