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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

Future General Corporation or FGC for short, was a research/visual effects (VFX) house, founded in 1975 by Douglas Trumbull and Richard Yuricich and located on the Maxella Avenue in Marina del Rey, California. Goal of the company was to further develop and exploit filming techniques, Trumbull up to then had invented or developed, most notably Showscan, an early high-definition filming technique. A deal was brokered between Trumbull and then president of Paramount Pictures, Frank Yablans, and its then holding company Gulf+Western to provide full funding, in the process becoming sole shareholders and holding company with Trumbull and Yuricich acting as CEOs.

It was FGC that was offered the job of providing the VFX for Star Trek: The Motion Picture around the turn of October/November 1977, but was turned down by Trumbull as he and his company were then deeply committed to the post-production of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Upon completion of that project Paramount withheld funding for a new project, Trumbull had lined up, forcing him to let go of a large part of his team (see: Dave Stewart for a contemporary line-up of personnel employed at the time), many of them moving on to employment at companies like Robert Abel & Associates (RA&A, ironically to work on The Motion Picture) and Apogee, Inc., whereas others (re-)joined the restarted Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), that was gearing up to start production on the second installment of the Star Wars franchise. (Cinefex, Issue 1, p. 4)

A year later however, in early March 1979, FGC was again approached to do the effects, as the production ran into troubles after RA&A was pulled from the project on 22 February 1979. By that time relations between Trumbull and the Paramount management had deteriorated due to the fact that, "Paramount had no vision at all and [was] going through a big management change. The guy that I did the deal with was ousted, and Michael Eisner and Barry Diller came in and they couldn't see what I was trying to do and wanted to get rid of it. I don't know, there's just a whole train of disillusionment that accompanies my history in movies." [1](X) Closure of the company was only prevented on that occasion in 1976 due the fact that Trumbull and Yuricich had just secured the Close Encounters VFX commission. As a result, the relationship between the two founders and Paramount became a very strained one, which translated itself in that Trumbull failed to communicate, when originally approached for The Motion Picture, that the work on Close Encounters was almost completed as it already premiered on 16 November 1977. As a matter of fact, Paramount, stung by, and reacting to Trumbull's rejection, was in turn already in the process of shutting down FGC as Trumbull – already serving from Christmas 1978 onward as an unpaid consultant, but only as a courtesy to his old friend Robert Wise, the director of the feature, with whom he had worked on Wise's science fiction film The Andromeda Strain (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, pp. 202-205) – recalled, "I was under contract at Paramount, who began closing down Future General in order to provide my cameras to Bob Abel's company. At the same time, Bob was already a year into the production, trying to implement a radically new computerized and computer graphics driven process." [2] Getting back the equipment, they initially were forced to surrender to RA&A, both Trumbull and Yuricich used the problems the studio were in as leverage to secure a proviso that they would be released from their contractual obligations if they accepted. [3] For the work, Trumbull, now paid, was able to partly reassemble the team he had on Close Encounters. As if to underscore the disdain Paramount felt for its own subsidiary, neither FGC nor its EEG subsidiary, received an official company credit for The Motion Picture, though many, but not all, employees received an individual one. Paramount subsidiary Magicam Inc. however did, as did Apogee and, most ironically, RA&A. The two founders left FGC upon completion of the project.

The relationship between FGC and its holding company, had soured considerably by then as was evidenced by the fact that the company was passed over in 1981 for the visual effects of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in favor of Industrial Light & Magic. According to Trumbull, FGC actually underbid ILM by $1.5 million, but the studio claimed that they wanted to cement the relationship with ILM that had begun with Raiders of the Lost Ark. (Cinefantastique, Vol 12 #5/6, p. 65) After that all activities within the company ground to a halt, though the company, as of 2010 essentially a shell company, is still listed as one of the subsidiaries of current holding company Viacom. [4]

The only other credits the company has to its name are the 1978 movie Night of Dreams, and the 1980 Close Encounters of the Third Kind – The Special Edition, the team of FGC embarked upon directly after The Motion Picture.

Entertainment Effects Group

To cover legal liability for the studio models, which included handling of the models during filming of The Motion Picture and additional detail construction, Trumbull also secured permission from Paramount to establish a subsidiary company the same month at the same location, Entertainment Effects Group (EEG). (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 181) Some employees from RA&A's Astra Image Corporation, which EEG also replaced as art department, moved over to the new company, after the former was pulled from the project, followed by a few model makers from Magicam, Inc., who were made responsible for applying additional paint jobs and detail construction work on the models, as well as handling the models during filming. EEG subcontracted Greg Jein, becoming Gregory Jein, Inc. later that month, in July 1979 for the build of the interior section models of V'ger. (Cinefex, issue 2, pp. 42-45)

EEG fared somewhat better upon completion of The Motion Picture, as Trumbull retained ownership of that company, and that company provided the studio models for Blade Runner (1982), Trumbull's own Brainstorm (1983), Ghostbusters (1984), 2010 (1984), and Fright Night (1985). Trumbull sold off his company in 1984 to Richard Edlund for it to become Boss Film Studios in 1985. (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 181)


People employed at the time of the production of The Motion Picture:

  • As part of FGC:
    • Michael Backauskas – Visual Effects Editor
    • Don Baker – Computer Cameraman
    • Phil Barberio – Photographic Effects Cameraman
    • Tom Barron
    • Kathy Campbell – Assistant Editor
    • Jim Dickson – Cameraman
    • Scott Farrar – Assistant Cameraman
    • David Gold – Gaffer
    • David Hardberger – Photographic Effects Cameraman
    • Alan Harding – Photographic Effects Cameraman
    • Richard Hollander – Electronic and mechanical design
    • Russ McElhatton – Assistant Cameraman
    • Dave Stewart – Director of Model Photography
    • Douglas Trumbull – Visual Effects Director/CEO
    • Cynthia Brett Webster – Photographic Effects Assistant (credited as Brett Webster)
    • Hoyt Yeatman – Photographic Effects Cameraman
    • Richard Yuricich – Special Effects Producer/CEO
  • As part of EEG:
    • Tom Cranham – Production Illustrator
    • Leslie Ekker – Animation and Graphics
    • Kris Gregg – Model Maker/Handler
    • Ron Gress – Model Painter/Handler
    • Robert McCall – Production Illustrator
    • David Negron – Storyboard Illustrator
    • Paul Olsen – Animation and Graphics Artist
    • Andrew Probert – Production Illustrator
    • Michelle Small – Storyboard Artist
    • Robert Spurlock – Model Rigger
    • Mark Stetson – Model Maker/Handler
    • Robert Swarthe – Animation Supervisor
    • John Vallone – Art Director
    • Alison Yerxa – Animation and Graphics Artist
    • Matthew Yuricich – Matte Artist
  • As part of EEG's subcontractor Gregory Jein, Inc.:

Further reading

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