Hollywood is a Mecca for creative people, with tantalizing gold statues and luxurious red carpet outfits reminders of the glory that can be had in the American film industry.
Actors get the most attention, but everyone knows that they’re only a small part of the creation of a film. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes in the movie that credits can run for 10 to 15 minutes after a major motion picture film, thanks to the many key players that make a motion picture what it is. For some films, usually effects-heavy action films, the team can include hundreds of workers.
Of course, just like in professional sports, there are a few star players in the film industry. These are the individuals who have risen to the top in their chosen field, distinguishing themselves through their talent and many years of consistently high-quality work. Usually, they’re associated with successful films, ones that have received critical acclaim and found commercial success. These individuals are all in high demand due to their unique style and amazing ability to perform.
These are some of the most influential individuals that have worked on some of the biggest blockbuster films over the last 30 years. Without their special touch, some of the best films ever made would not have been what we know them to be today. Something as small as a unique camera angle, or innovative special-effects, can really make or break a movie. These individuals are some of the top professionals that can really make a film spectacular.
John Toll – Director Of Photography
Other Top DPs: Roger Deakins, Eduardo Serra, Wally Pfister
Photography director John Toll is known for his work on Braveheart, Iron Man 3, and The Last Samurai. He won two Oscars in a row for his work on The Legends of the Fall and Braveheart. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for his work on The Thin Red Line. In the television industry, he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for the pilot of the massively successful show Breaking Bad.
Toll has worked with many top filmmakers, including Francis Ford Coppola, Edward Zwick, Cameron Crowe, and The Wachowski siblings. He has also been cinematographer for films such as The Rainmaker, Almost Famous, The Last Samurai, Vanilla Sky, Elizabethtown, Gone Baby Gone, Tropic Thunder, It’s Complicated, The Adjustment Bureau, and 2014’s Jupiter Ascending, as well as 1985’s The Beach Boys: An American Band.
Toll has a certain style of filming that shows throughout his movies. His work has helped to bring more stylized high-contrast film into the mainstream. This was once a choice relegated to the art house works of the past, but is now making its way into the mainstream, all thanks to cinematographers like Toll. With many gorgeous films to his name and still young at the age of 61, there are plenty more films to come with the distinctive visual edge that mark them as a John Toll.
Robert Evans – Producer
Other Top Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer, Harvey Weinstein, Brian Grazer, Joel Silver
Robert Evans is probably the most well known for discovering Norma Jean, better known by the stage name Marilyn Monroe. Dissatisfied with his own acting talent, Evans became determined to become a film producer. He began work on a film starring Frank Sinatra and other greats in 1968, which got him noticed by Paramount, which hired him.
Eventually, Evans was made head of production and was able to make the studio greater than ever, his lack of experience largely a non-factor. He has produced many films, including The Italian Job, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and the enormously successful Chinatown. The Godfather, often cited as one of the best films ever made, was produced by Paramount while Evans was studio head.
That likely helped contributed to his nickname. Now 83, Evans has been dubbed the Godfather of Hollywood, famously having invited movie stars, top models, and studio heads into his home to win them over for his productions with offers they couldn’t refuse.
Ray Harryhausen – Special Effects Director
Other Top Effects Artists: Stan Winston, Marcel Vercoutere
Special effects director Ray Harryhausen created the form of stop-motion model animation known as “Dynamation,” with which he truly changed the course of film history.
Harryhausen started practicing his craft at an early age, and made many short films in his youth. A friend arranged a meeting with King Kong animation mastermind Willis O’Brien, who encouraged Harryhausen to take classes in graphic arts and sculpture.
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms was the first major film that Ray did, which turned out to be a major international box-office hit for Warner Brothers. In the film, Harryhausen used a new technique that split the background and foreground of pre-shot live action footage into two separate images into which he would animate a model or models seeming to interact. He then combined the footage for the film.
Many film critics long for a time when special effects were more realistic, and less reliant on computer animation. The prevailing sentiment among these critics is that a real feel of film has been lost. Harryhausen played a huge role in keeping movies more engaging with his realistic special effects, ones that used actual, tangible mediums.
His impact in the film community will never be forgotten, and with practical effects enjoying something of a resurgence in some corners, his legacy lives on as his influence spreads to other special effects artists in the industry.
John Williams – Film Composer
Other Top Composers: Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, Clint Mansell, Howard Shore
John Williams is one of the most successful and widely known film composers of all time, and it’s success that is deserved. He has worked on some of the biggest blockbuster successes of all time, his most famous being the Star Wars series. His Star Wars theme is one of the most recognizable pieces of music in our modern time, one of the most famous parts of the enormously successful Star Wars franchise that was started by director George Lucas.
Willims has won five Academy Awards and 21 Grammys for his work, which is a great feat for any composer.
With music credits to his name including Harry Potter, the Indiana Jones series, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, and Jurassic Park, it’s safe to say there are few, if any, filmgoers who have never heard John Williams’ work.
Truly the most accomplished film composer in the music industry, Williams is a great role model for any budding film composer hoping to get into the motion picture business. He started off just like any other, but talent and hard work allowed him to make an impact on film that most will only dream of.
Steven Spielberg – Film Director
Other Top Directors: Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow
Steven Spielberg got his start in filmmaking early on, filming his first movie in order to get a merit badge with his boy scouts troop. This turned into a lifelong passion for Steven – one that led to him becoming one of the most successful and important directors of all time.
Spielberg is famous for how he got his start at Universal Studios. He took it upon himself to really get what he wanted. After being rejected by California State University, Long Beach – twice – Steven finally made headway by taking an unpaid internship, eventually impressing Universal brass enough with his work to become signed to a long-term deal with the studio.
The rest is history. Now, Spielberg has been making movies for right around 40 years, and is regarded as one of the most influential film directors of all time. On top of that, Spielberg is a great business man, too, and is one of the co-founders of DreamWorks. Some of his most famous movies are Saving Private Ryan, Shindler’s List, E.T., and Jurassic Park. There’s no doubt that when people think of famous film directors, Spielberg is one of the first names that comes to mind.