My second celebrity interview - Tom Spina!

by Darth Danno
on 2012-11-05, 12:30:55

Not sure how I got all this clout, but I was able to get an interview with none other that Tom Spina! The man responsible for last year's SW commercial shown during the Superbowl. I had the honor and pleasure of meeting him at Celebration VI and found out he's a fan of His company puts out some amazing work. We're talking Academy Award nomination quality. Not sure if he's ever actually gotten anything like that, but that's a question for another interview at another time. So without further delay, here it is!

Q:  How did the whole Superbowl commercial project come about? (Did the car company contact Lucasfilm who in turn contacted you, or did the car company contact you and you then contacted Lucasfilm, etc…)

A: It's funny, because it turns out a few people put in a good word for us on this one!  The Volkswagen hired an outstanding production company to create the spot, who then went looking for the creatures they needed.  They initially went to Lucasfilm, with the thought that they might have the originals in their archives.  While LFL did have some prequel characters, most of the original cantina characters are in private hands.  Further, 35 year old valuable foam and latex masks would probably be a bit too fragile to make it through a shoot like this without damage. 

 So when Lucasfilm didn't have the characters they needed, a few folks over there knew of our work with Sideshow (prototyping their Figrin D'an bust) and in particular, the reproduction cantina alien masks I'd done years ago, and suggested us.  So I got this garbled message translation one day, mentioning "Star Wars Canteen", "Steve Stan Sweet" and "Pablo At All Ago" and naturally, I instantly recognized those as Steve Sansweet and Pablo Hidalgo and figured that might be an important call!  

From there, it was just about working out which characters they needed and then go, go go to get things made in time!

Our characters:
Behind the scenes:

Q:  Was CVI your first Celebration you've attended? If not, which other ones have you been to?

A: I've been to all of the US Celebrations except the first.  For 3, 4 and 5 I was a presenter on the Original Props and Wardrobe Collecting panel with Gus Lopez and Brandon Alinger (as well as other collectors from year to year).  This year we did that presentation again and Pablo and I put together the Behind the Scenes of the Cantina Panel, which really was the panel both he and I have just always wanted to attend…  presenting it was just a bonus.  We had a LOT of fun digging through rare photos and showing stuff people had likely never seen before.

 What were some of the highlights of your trip to Orlando this year?

A: It's always wonderful to connect with so many friends and clients at these shows.  There are people from all over the world who I just wouldn't see elsewhere and it's wonderful to spend some time catching up and geeking out over Star Wars stuff.

Q:  Is the Cantina scene from Episode IV your favorite scene from all the films, if so, why?

A: For sure.  It's just one of those touchstone moments in life, you know?  For me, I was fascinated with movie monsters (King Kong, Joe Young, THEM, even the Wizard of Oz) but Star Wars comes along and all of a sudden you have this incredible bar full of creature after creature of all types: rubber masks, makeups, puppets, foam masks, etc, etc.  The diversity and strength of the character's looks captured my imagination immediately and did not let go.  Looking back at the crew (and what they've done since!) and it's easy to see why the scene was that good.  The Freeborns (Nick, Stuart and Kay), Chris Tucker, Nick Maley, Phil Tippett, Laine Lisska, Jon Berg, Doug Beswick, Rob Bottin and of course Rick Baker, just to name a few.  These are artists that would shape FX for years to come. 

Q:  Will you have anything to do with any commercials for the next Superbowl?

A: We would love to!  

Q:  I know the helmet you designed for the Make-A-Wish Foundation was inspired by the film "Total Recall", how did you come up with that idea/design? 

A: Two words…  "lunch!"  We had a few ideas but it was a trip to a local diner with Brian Lewis, Patrick Louie and Mike Thomas (who I'm fairly certain was the one to suggest the concept) that led to this one.  Personally, I love projects where artists are given the same "canvas" to work with.  I was absolutely floored by the quality of work all around.  HUGE credit should also be given to Art Andrews, who managed the Fett side of the project.  Working with 25 artists can be like herding cats, but he ran this so professionally, and the results speak for themselves.  What an amazing thing to be a part of and we're all thrilled with the totals that these helmets brought in for charity!
Boba Recall -

Q:  Any upcoming projects your company is doing (either SW-related or not) you'd like to get the word out on? 

A: On the Star Wars front, we're just wrapping up a life-sized Boba Fett for Sideshow Collectibles, which they debuted at Comic-Con this year.  Rebelscum posted some great images:

We've also just updated our site with a new project where we created quite a number of three dimensional Death Star trench inspired wall tiles for a client's home theater:

We've got some other great projects going, like some conservation and display work on the original Fluffy Crate Beast from Creepshow and others, and if anyone wants to get sneak peeks at what's happening in the studio, the best thing they can do is follow us on Facebook… we update all the time with behind the scenes pics of what we're doing: is not affiliated with Lucasfilm Ltd. or any of its licensees... damn them to hell. Can't they see a golden opportunity when they see it? Buy us, you fools! You already own our souls and all our money... buy US!!! This site uses Google Analytics. It does not collect or share any additional user data.
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