J.J. Abrams At VES Awards: 'Star Wars' Sojourn “A Dream Come True”

VES Awards trophy animatedOn a night dominated by rampaging apes and squishy robots, J.J. Abrams got an award from the Visual Effects Society in part for what he’s already done, with a long list of TV shows and films such as three Star Trek films, two Mission: Impossible films, Cloverfield, Super 8, Lost, Fringe, Alias and so much more.

But he also was honored for what he’s about to do: relaunch the Star Wars franchise later this year with its seventh film and give the assembled VES membership a whole lot more work to do over the next few years.

As emcee Patton Oswalt joked, see you next year for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens show. That’s a good bet, given the anticipation for the film and all the follow-ons that Disney has stacked behind it as part of its acquisition of George Lucas’ mighty empire. As for Abrams, living in and guiding the Star Wars universe has been a thrill ride, he said.

“Spending the last two years in the world of light sabers and tie fighters has been absolutely challenging and a dream come true,” Abrams said.

Abrams said before the show that being chosen for the VES Visionary Award was “clearly a clerical error. But mostly, I just work with a whole lot of incredible VFX artists. This is what made me want to get involved in movies.”

When VES called to say they wanted to present the award to him, Abrams said he accepted VES logomostly because he wanted to say thank you to his parents, “who let me blow s*it up,” and his sister “who let me blow her up.” He had several other thank yous to pass around, especially to all the visual-effects people he’s worked with, but he saved one for the head of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy.
“I want to thank Kathy Kennedy for saying the words, ‘Do you want to direct Star Wars?’ and actually being in a position to let me direct Star Wars,” Abrams said.
Zoe Saldana, who starred in Abrams’ Star Trek movies, presented the award, saying, “This man has truly done many things, but one thing he did no man has done before: He gave Spock a girlfriend. And then he gave me a job too.”
Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett, a frequent Abrams collaborator who was onstage earlier to present other awards, took time to talk about Abrams too. “The one thing about J.J. is he always wants to know who’s doing the work,” he said. “In that way, he’s a true friend to the business we’re in.”

Onstage, Abrams told the tale of being 11, and his father had brought home an autograph from Douglas Trumbull, the pioneering visual-effects supervisor from 2001: A Space Odyssey who happened to be working on the first Star Wars film. Trumbull wrote that he too started making films at a very early age, 13, and it was a great way to live a life.

“When Dad brought it home, I lost my f*cking mind,” Abrams said. “This was my equivalent of getting an autograph from (1970s Dodgers star) Steve Garvey.”

Decades later, when Abrams finally met Trumbull and told him about the autograph, which he still had, Trumbull’s response was a rather deflating and quizzical, “Huh?”

“It was a disappointing reaction,” Abrams ruefully acknowledged to a roomful of laughs. “But he could not have been more right” all those years before that moviemaking was a pretty good way to make a life.

  1. I have no idea who (1) markjobson74 is who made a comment, “In what sense is JJ Abrams a visionary”, apparently mark jobson74 either has been living in a cave for 20+ years, or he for whatever reason does not like JJ Abrams. Who knows?? JJ Abrams-just look at his body of work on television, and in film, and it is easy for ANY fair-minded person who knows ANYTHING about TV or Film, that not only is JJ Abrams one of the most creative minds in the industry, but his work is recognized ALL over the world for his unique talent and his vision. Frankly, I have no idea who else in this field of work has shown by his accomplishments, this rare vision,and he has many years to go. Just one or two of his projects would be enough for this award. Mark Jobson(or whoever your are) get a LIFE!!!

    1. I gotta agree with markjacobson74. Abrams is an consistent director, but visionary? Not seeing it.

      And I haven’t been living in a cave for 20+ years, and I don’t know J.J. Abrams as a person, though his films are typically geared toward the greatest amount of viewers, which isn’t typically the route visionaries take.

      For instance, I think Stanley Kubrick is a remarkably visionary director, though you can’t necessarily say that films like 2001: A Space Odyssey or A Clockwork Orange are held in high esteem by many.

      For instance, I cannot stand Kubrick’s 2001 (way too dull. Kind of like Boyhood, with spaceships and a homicidal computer), though I can see why some people feel as passionately about it as they do.

      Though Corky, if you’re gong to defend Abrams as some sort of paragon of filmmaking, it would help your argument more to provide a few examples of his supposed innovation, as opposed to wasting space attacking someone because they dare disagree with you.

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