These rare glimpses behind the camera lens transport us to a time when practical effects reigned supreme, and creativity knew no bounds.
From masterful makeup and prosthetics to awe-inspiring animatronics and meticulously crafted miniatures, these photos capture the remarkable craftsmanship and dedication that brought fantastical worlds to life.
In the 1960s marked, miniatures and models became indispensable tools, allowing directors to create awe-inspiring worlds and breathtaking action sequences.
From the intricately detailed spaceships of “2001: A Space Odyssey” to the colossal destruction in “The Towering Inferno,” practical effects demonstrated an extraordinary level of craftsmanship.
As the industry progressed into the 1970s, advancements in animatronics and makeup effects led to astonishing creations. “Star Wars” revolutionized special effects with its lifelike creatures and groundbreaking use of miniatures.
The 1980s witnessed a fusion of practical and emerging digital effects. The imaginative vision of filmmakers combined animatronics, puppetry, and miniature work with the early use of computer-generated imagery (CGI).
The Ghostbuster Bums
Director Ivan Reitman with Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd during the filming of a deleted scene for Ghostbusters, where they play two bums walking through Central Park and bump into Rick Moranis as he’s being chased by the Terror Dog.
The Ghostbusters vs Gozer
The final scene of “Ghostbusters” featuring the epic showdown between the Ghostbusters and Gozer was filmed using a combination of practical effects and visual effects techniques.
The set was meticulously constructed to recreate the rooftop temple, where the confrontation takes place. Special effects were employed to create the bursts of energy and supernatural phenomena seen throughout the scene.
For the towering presence of Gozer, a combination of practical and optical effects were used. Actress Slavitza Jovan, who portrayed Gozer, wore a silver suit with reflective material to enhance the otherworldly appearance.
The glowing eyes and eerie aura were achieved through post-production visual effects, adding a supernatural touch to the character.
The blonde Dorothy
During an early screen test for the timeless classic “The Wizard of Oz,” Judy Garland, known for her signature brunette locks, sported a striking blonde wig and donned heavy makeup.
Ultimately, the decision was made to retain Garland’s natural hair color, cementing the image of the beloved ruby-slippered heroine that continues to captivate audiences to this day.
Sofia Coppola’s little director’s chair
On the set of “The Godfather: Part II,” a heartwarming sight awaited the crew and cast as 3-year-old Sofia Coppola, daughter of director Francis Ford Coppola, had her very own miniature director’s chair.
Little did anyone know that this tiny director’s chair would serve as a precursor to Sofia’s own remarkable directorial career, making this behind-the-scenes tidbit an affectionate nod to the early beginnings of future cinematic talent.
The cast and crew of A Nightmare on Elm Street
Wes Craven with the cast and crew of A Nightmare on Elm Street. With his unmistakable passion and creative vision, Craven fostered an environment of collaboration and innovation on set.
This snapshot captures the essence of a unified team, working together to bring forth the chilling tale that would soon become a horror film icon.
The puppeteers behind E.T.
Puppeteers working on the set of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. These talented artists, hidden from the camera’s view, employed their expertise to imbue E.T. with a lifelike quality, captivating both the cast and audiences alike.
Through a delicate combination of puppetry and animatronics, they breathed movement and personality into the beloved extraterrestrial, allowing him to interact seamlessly with the human characters in the film.
Stuntmen of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Amrish Puri with his stunt double Frank Henson and Jonathan Ke Quan’s stunt double Felix Silla on the set of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
The duo worked tirelessly together to bring the menacing character to life, showcasing their commitment to the craft.
In the hands of King Kong
Jessica Lange filming King Kong, 1976. For the close-up shots and scenes requiring intricate movements, a highly detailed full-scale animatronic King Kong was built.
This animatronic creature incorporated a complex system of motors, cables, and hydraulics, allowing it to simulate lifelike movements and facial expressions.
Skilled puppeteers operated the animatronic Kong, bringing the character to life with remarkable realism.
In addition to the animatronic model, the filmmakers also employed large-scale models for wide shots and action sequences. These models, meticulously crafted to resemble King Kong, were manipulated by a team of skilled technicians using various rigging techniques.
This allowed for dynamic movements and interactions with the surrounding environment, creating the illusion of a colossal ape in the midst of the action.
The Statue of Liberty from Ghostbusters
Buzz Neidig turning Jim Fye into the Statue of Liberty for Ghostbusters II. With meticulous attention to detail, Neidig and his team painstakingly applied the elaborate prosthetics and makeup required to bring the colossal symbol to life.
The process involved carefully sculpting and painting the prosthetic pieces to match the statue’s features and texture, ensuring an uncanny resemblance.
Once the transformation was complete, Fye’s performance, enhanced by the stunning effects, seamlessly blended with the surrounding environment, resulting in the awe-inspiring sight of the Statue of Liberty walking the streets of New York City.
John Matuszak getting his make-up done to be Sloth on the set of The Goonies.
Each application involved blending layers of special effects makeup, ensuring that Matuszak’s unique facial features were seamlessly integrated into the design.
As the transformation progressed, the astonishing metamorphosis unveiled the lovable and unmistakable appearance of Sloth.
This prototype Gizmo costume was created during the production of Gremlins 2: The New Batch. This suit was an early test idea when the team was trying to solve the problem of having Gizmo walk.
A costume was built to the proportions of a small actor, who would have portrayed the Mogwai in the costume. The idea was ultimately abandoned and the costume is never seen in the movie.
Michael Jordan filming Space Jam
Michael Jordan filming Space Jam. To achieve the illusion of interaction between Michael Jordan and the animated characters, a combination of practical effects and visual effects were utilized.
During filming, actors often performed opposite green screen placeholders or stand-in puppets to provide the necessary eyelines and physical cues.
This allowed for a more natural and immersive performance from both Jordan and the animated cast.
In post-production, skilled animators meticulously hand-drawn and digitally animated the Looney Tunes characters frame-by-frame, ensuring their movements and expressions seamlessly matched Jordan’s on-screen performance.
These animated sequences were then composited onto the live-action footage using cutting-edge digital compositing techniques.
The man behind the Alien
The 218 cm (7’2″) tall actor Bolaji Badejo who played the Alien in the movie Alien. To achieve the otherworldly appearance of the Alien, Badejo was fitted with an intricately designed and exquisitely detailed costume.
The costume, featuring elongated limbs, a hauntingly skeletal structure, and a menacing biomechanical aesthetic, transformed Badejo into the formidable creature that would terrify audiences.
The special effects team further enhanced the impact of the Alien’s presence through ingenious cinematography.
Skillful camera angles, strategic lighting, and dynamic framing were employed to create a sense of unease and heighten the creature’s ominous presence.
The combination of Badejo’s towering stature and the artistic vision of the filmmakers resulted in an unforgettable on-screen presence that sent shivers down the audience’s spines.
Warwick Davis’ letter to George Lucas
The letter a young Warwick Davis wrote to George Lucas asking for toys.
Robin Shelby getting into the Slimer suit on the set of Ghostbusters II. Once inside the suit, Shelby’s movements were controlled by a team of skilled puppeteers and animators.
Using a combination of puppetry and animatronics, they manipulated the suit to simulate Slimer’s energetic and mischievous behavior.
This allowed for fluid movements and the illusion of the character’s presence interacting with the environment and other actors on set.
Kate Winslet’s stunt double while filming Titanic
Kate Winslet and Lori Lynn Sikes Rosas preparing for the filming of the classic scene in Titanic. Prior to filming, Winslet and Rosas rehearsed their movements and perfected their performances.
They meticulously studied the choreography and nuances of the scene, ensuring that every gesture and expression reflected the characters’ complex emotions.
Michael Keaton’s stunt double Dave Lea on the set of Batman. Throughout the production, Lea fearlessly performed stunts that pushed the boundaries of physicality and showcased Batman’s agility and prowess.
From daring leaps and combat sequences to dramatic rooftop descents, Lea’s dedication and skill lent authenticity and excitement to the Dark Knight’s on-screen persona.
Lea’s collaboration with the film’s creative team allowed for the seamless integration of his performances with Keaton’s, resulting in a visually cohesive portrayal of Batman’s heroic exploits.
The cast and crew of Jurassic Park
Group portrait of the cast and crew of Jurassic Park. The special effects team, led by the visionary Stan Winston, employed a combination of practical effects and state-of-the-art animatronics to breathe life into the prehistoric creatures.
Working tirelessly, they meticulously crafted lifelike dinosaur models, intricately detailing their scales, textures, and movements.
These animatronic creations ranged from smaller-scale puppets to full-scale dinosaurs, allowing for intimate interactions with the human actors on set.
Lon Chaney and his makeup kit
Lon Chaney with his personal makeup kit, before and after transforming himself into The Phantom for The Phantom of the Opera.
The transformation process involved hours of meticulous work, as Chaney skillfully contoured his face, emphasizing the character’s hallowed cheeks, sunken eyes, and twisted mouth.
By meticulously blending shades and textures, he created the illusion of aged skin and scars, lending an unsettling and mesmerizing realism to the character.
Once the makeup was complete, Chaney donned the striking costume and accessories that completed The Phantom’s haunting appearance.
Filming The Black Knight scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The Knight was played by two actors. John Cleese is in the Knight’s armor until he is down to one leg.
Cleese could not balance well on one leg, so the Knight is then played by a real one-legged man, a local by the name of Richard Burton, a blacksmith who lived near the film shoot (not to be confused with Richard Burton, the Welsh actor).
After the Knight’s remaining leg is cut off, the quadruple-amputee that remains is again Cleese. Cleese still boasts that he had Richard Burton as his stunt double.
The Ewoks unmasked
Some of the actors who played Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. The creation of the Ewoks involved a combination of practical effects, skilled puppetry, and the actors’ performances to bring these diminutive creatures to life.
These costumes allowed the actors to physically inhabit the characters, while various mechanical components, such as moving mouths and blinking eyes, were operated by dedicated puppeteers behind the scenes.
Kurt Russell and Elvis Presley
Kurt Russell made his film debut at age 10 by kicking Elvis Presley in the shin in the movie It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963).
Many years later Kurt Russell would portray Presley in the TV movie Elvis (1979) and also be the voice of Elvis in Forrest Gump (1994).
He would also play an Elvis impersonator in 3000 Miles to Graceland (2001), where he gets kicked in the shin by David Kaye.
Humphrey Bogart and his platform shoes
Since Humphrey Bogart was shorter than Ingrid Bergman, he wore these platform shoes during the filming of Casablanca.
During the production, Bogart, who stood at a height slightly shorter than Bergman, donned discreet platform shoes to bring his character to the same eye level as his leading lady.
This attention to detail was crucial in maintaining the visual harmony and chemistry between Rick and Ilsa, enhancing their captivating performances and the overall narrative of the film.
Through this simple yet effective technique, the filmmakers ensured that the height disparity between Bogart and Bergman was imperceptible to the audience.
George Lucas and his dog Indiana
This is George Lucas with his dog Indiana, an Alaskan Malamute, that he owned in the 1970s. Indiana was the inspiration for the character of Chewbacca and also became the source of Indiana Jones’ name.
(Photo credit: IMDB / Wikimedia Commons / Pinterest).