Escape From L.A. >
Exclusive Interviews > Fireball Tim (Concept Artist)
How did you end up being
a concept and storyboard artist?
I went to school as a transportation
designer at Art Center (College of Design) but ended up at Disney's
Imagineering. While there for three
years I did concept for five different parks and built a pretty good repertoire.
By the time I went into film (1991) I could pretty much work in any genre.
Disney was a great place to bounce daily from sci-fi to western to fantasy and
adventure. In an average week I'd do cars for Autopia, Indiana Jones paintings,
Toontown props and Beauty & The Beast architecture. It was awesome.
For storyboards, I just wanted to learn to direct. The best way to do that was
to board and make as many mistakes as possible. Some very painful.
I've boarded with David Twohy in his house, Guillermo Del Toro in an
and even created fight scenes on a lawn at Universal Studios. I have a
background in martial arts which helped me get hired doing those. Nothing like
beating the crap out of the Director! ;-) But all in all, I'm had wonderful
teachers and great experiences.
How did you get the
assignment to be the Concept Artist for Escape From L.A.?
I don't remember how it actually happened but once John (Carpenter)
found out that I was the son of Anthony Lawrence who wrote/produced Elvis which he directed we hit it off. But the
production designer Larry Paull
(Lawrence G. Paull) got me
the interview. We had worked together before but John wanted someone who could
board and do concept also. Our personalities fit and we both liked twinkies.
How did you and Joseph Musso (Illustrator) collaborate?
Joe and I worked well together. We would sometimes
work on a similar piece from a different angle or John wanted two
interpretations of the same thing. But Joe and I would crack each other up all
day. He was (and is) a funny guy. Pretty sure he just did concept as I did both
concept and boards. But a great working relationship as he was the head of the
Union and also worked on one of my Dad's TV Shows Jean LaFitte: Part 1-2
(Swiss Family Robinson) in the 70s. He's an old-timer!
How was the experience working with John Carpenter
Lawrence G. Paull (Production Designer) and Bruce Crone (Art Director)?
Concept and boarding are very different
animals. Concept artists rarely work with the directors but work consistently
with productions designers and art directors. I'll read the script and the PD
(Production Designer) will dole out key frames he wants me to concentrate on for money shots. Or, I'll
be assigned props and just go to town on them without direction. Just come up
with cool shit. Guns, costumes, props, vehicles.
Boarding is done directly with the director and I don't ever see the PD
Honestly, Larry didn't give too much creative direction as did JC (John
Carpenter). I just pumped it out like there was no tomorrow for
nine months. Many
hi-concept films take a year of
development and even longer in post.
Even my storyboards were shot as is
which is why I became a director. By the time I got together with John
Carpenter he was directly shooting my boards shot for shot. I was really
creating the shots as per his request but the angles, lens and actions dynamics
were mine. That experience led me into directing commercials. I appreciate that
Collaboration with Larry and Bruce was great. Bruce was always cracking jokes but was
very good at what he did. Options weren't explored too much as time didn't allow
it but we were all on the same page. They just built what I did and even Larry
gave it the thumbs up. Pretty much everything I designed was built and Larry's
only input other than saying, "Do this page." was "Nice job."
I went on to Plasticman with Larry at Warner Brothers after that so
we did several projects together until he retired.
have any reference material when you drew the L.A. landmarks for instance and
did John Carpenter, Lawrence G. Paull and Bruce Crone have any favorite of your drawings?
We always had a lot of reference in designing landmarks so
we knew what we could destroy and what should stay.
Larry's favorite piece was the one that
was finished. ;-) Relief was in his eyes more than anything and we were all very
proud when we saw it get shot.
1: Santa Monica Pier
2: Downtown L.A.
3: Capitol Records
4: Wilshire Canyon
5: Century City
Which designs for the movie
are you the most proud of and did you drew any inspiration from
something to any of your drawings? If so, is there any specific design or designs
you'd like to discuss further?
I'm always most proud of the cars. I love
vehicle design although weapons and wild props are fun too. Did a bunch for
Mouse Hunt as well. Larry Paull let me
run with the cars and oversee the builds. Once I did that I really didn't want
to do much else and got known for that. I'm not a builder like my famous buddy
George Barris but I am the guy who sends him
the sketches. I've done cars for about 400 films now and it never gets old plus
I get to share them in books.
1: Cuervo Jones' Cadillac
2: USPF's (United States Police Force) Double Blade Helicopter
How come some
of the designs were never used in the movie like the Gun Barrell and Cuervo
Jones' (George Corraface) Monster Truck Cadillac for instance? Was there something you were
disappointed to see go?
Always but movies come down to budget. We
create at 100 percent but 50 percent gets used. Many times I've had designs turned down only
to re-introduce them into another film.
favorite memory or memories of working on the movie?
I worked at Paramount Studios and it's a
really cool lot. They were shooting Star Trek there and I'd always see
funky characters walking around. But along with Paramount being next to a really
awesome pasta place I think working with John and Kurt (Russell) (Snake Plissken/Producer/Co-Writer) was the best thing. Kurt
was very humble and easy to be around. On set at Universal Studios he suggested
that one of the hotel facades be called the St. Lawrence because he appreciated
the weapons I created for him and there were going to be a lot of holes
rocketing through the hotel.
Everyone on the shoot was kind and easy to work with. We had a great time and I
was given a long leash to play. Very grateful for the experience.
What do you
think of the movie
The movie is more of a comedic version of
Escape From New York. Everyone knew that but John just really wanted to have fun with it
and make it a bit of a mock to the first one. He knew it would not surpass it as
Escape From New York was very strong. He wanted Escape From L.A. to be hip, fun, relaxed in
tenor and visually cool. I think he achieved that and Kurt had a good time too.
What do you
enjoy doing in your spare time?
I really enjoy doing my talk show
5Minute Drive and traveling for automotive events. I host the only Automotive Film
Festival in Monterey for Pebble Beach and travel across the world to other car
shows. When I'm home I surf, do my books and play with my pups and family. It's
Thank you for your
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