Leslie Iwerks is the documentarian behind the Emmy-nominated The Pixar Story and the Academy Award nominee Recycled Life, and now she has pointed her camera at the story behind the CGI monolith, Industrial Light & Magic.

We all know ILM. It’s a company that famously began as the VFX department on the original Star Wars films and has since grown to be the most well-recognized visual effects company in the world. While the company has had its ups and downs, they are responsible for some of the most interesting moving images to come out of Hollywood in the history of the art. At the same time they’re also responsible for some of the most invisible enhancements we’ll never notice.

The documentary is narrated by Tom Cruise and has a pretty long list of director interviewees including Spielberg, Abrams, Lucas, Favreau, and Ron Howard. Jon Lasseter, Bruckheimer, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robin Williams are also included.

I hope the doc pays more than lip service to the struggle for CGI to find its place in storytelling, as opposed to just being a showreel. Some of my favorite documentaries are concerned with filmmaking craft (Visions of Light, The Cutting Edge) and they manage to tell the story of cinema by focusing on one small part of it. While this documentary focuses on one company specifically, there is still the potential to get an interesting look at modern movie-making and the conflicts that have marked it. Iwerks’ The Pixar Story is a solid documentary about the history of the animation company, and I imagine similar care will be taken with ILM’s even longer history.

The documentary will air 8:00pm (E) November 14th on Encore. Full press release is below, if ya wanna.


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ENCORE PAYS VISUAL TRIBUTE TO OSCAR®-WINNING
VISUAL EFFECTS GIANT ILM IN CELEBRATION OF THEIR 35TH ANNIVERSARY
 WITH ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY
“INDUSTRIAL LIGHT & MAGIC: CREATING THE IMPOSSIBLE”
 
Tom Cruise Narrates Doc Premiering November 14, 2010
Marathon of Five ILM-Effects Films on Encore
 
Beverly Hills, CA., September 14, 2010 – Since its founding 35 years ago, Industrial Light & Magic has been the movie industry’s undisputed leader in groundbreaking visual effects, thrilling audiences and making hits into blockbusters. On Sunday, November 14 at 8:00 p.m. (et/pt), Encore presents an original documentary celebrating that legacy. “Industrial Light & Magic: Creating the Impossible” is directed by Academy Award® and Emmy® nominated director Leslie Iwerks and is narrated by Tom Cruise. Encore will also present five ILM-effects films starting at 2:00 p.m. with Jumanji, followed by Hook, Jurassic Park III, Twister and Starship Troopers.

The hour-long special has interviews with filmmakers George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard,  J.J. Abrams and Jon Favreau, actors Samuel L. Jackson and Robin Williams, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and John Lasseter, the chief  creative officer at Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.  Film and television shows featured in the special include The Abyss, Avatar, Forrest Gump, Jumanji, Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Robot Chicken, Star Trek (2009), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Transformers, Twister, Young Sherlock Holmes and The War of the Worlds (2005), which starred narrator Cruise.

Leslie Iwerks’ documentary takes audiences behind the scenes at ILM with in depth interviews with some of the company’s top talent and showcases never before seen footage highlighting many of their pioneering milestones. From creating the first ever computer generated character in a feature film to the latest advancements in visual effects for film franchises like Transformers and Iron Man, ILM has created some of the most memorable movie moments in recent history.
Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is a division of Lucasfilm Ltd. and was founded by George Lucas in 1975 to create the visual effects for his space epic Star Wars. The studio originated in Van Nuys, California but moved to San Rafael, California to work on The Empire Strikes Back and is now headquartered at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio of San Francisco with a sister studio in Singapore.

ILM has worked on nearly 300 films in its 35 year history and has largely been the driving force behind the evolution of modern visual effects.  From the liquid metal man in Terminator 2: Judgment Day to the lifelike digital dinosaurs in Jurassic park, ILM has created some of the most iconic moments in cinematic history.

ILM has received 15 Best Visual Effects Oscars® and 25 additional nominations. It has also received 23 Scientific and Technical Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in recognition of the critical role the company’s advances in technology have played in the filmmaking process. ILM is also the only entertainment company to be recognized with the National Medal of Technology.


Leslie Iwerks Productions, Inc., is based in Santa Monica, CA. and over the last twelve years the company has produced award winning documentaries, television specials and films for Disney, Pixar, HBO, Starz, Bravo, National Geographic, Babelgum, among others. Leslie Iwerks comes from a family of film and visual effects pioneers that began with her grandfather, Ub Iwerks, the original designer/co-creator of Mickey Mouse and Academy Award® winning visual effects innovator (The Birds, Mary Poppins, among others). Leslie’s short documentary Recycled Life was nominated for an Academy Award® in 2007, and The Pixar Story a feature documentary about Pixar Animation Studios, was nominated for an Emmy® in 2008. For more information, please visit. www.leslieiwerks.com.

Starz Entertainment, LLC, is a premium movie and original programming entertainment service provider operating in the United States. The company offers 16 premium channels including the flagship Starz® and Encore® brands with approximately 17.3 million and 31.9 million subscribers respectively.  Starz Entertainment airs in total more than 1,000 movies and original series every month across its pay TV channels. Starz Entertainment is recognized as a pay TV leader in providing HD, On Demand, HD On Demand and online advanced services for its Starz, Encore and MoviePlex brands.  Starz Entertainment (www.starz.com) is an operating unit of Starz, LLC, which is a controlled subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation, and is attributed to Liberty Starz (NASDAQ: LSTZA), a tracking stock group of Liberty Media Corporation.