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Darrell Anderson

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Darrell Anderson
Birth name: Darrell Arthur Anderson
Gender: Male
Date of birth: 22 February 1933
Place of birth: Humboldt County, California, USA
Awards for Trek: 2 Emmy Award nominations
Roles: Cinematographer, Visual Effects Producer

Darrell Arthur Anderson (born 22 February 1933; age 81) was a cinematographer, specialized in devising and executing visual (VFX), in the 1960 still called, special effects or opticals, who co-owned and operated with his older brother, Howard A. Anderson, Jr., their own effects company, the Howard Anderson Company, a VFX house working on numerous Hollywood film and series productions. In the 1960s, the company, taken over by the two brothers from their father and namesake, Howard A. Anderson (1 June 18905 October 1979; age 89), resided on the Desilu lot. It was their company that was approached in 1964 to provide the VFX for the television pilot episode "The Cage", which was to become Star Trek: The Original Series.

The choice was a logical one, as, aside from the close proximity to Desilu, the two brothers had already provided the animated title sequence for Desilu's main production at the time, The Lucy Show. Both brothers jumped at the opportunity with enthusiasm and confidence that they could deliver. The enthusiasm was not lost on Executive Producer Gene Roddenberry, as he wrote in a memo to the head of Desilu Business Affairs, Argyle Nelson on 24 August 1964, "I am delighted Anderson and others find the project interesting and fascinating. It will take a lot of corporation and creative thinking to bring this in exciting and on budget." (The Making of Star Trek, p. 89) Anderson was assigned to design and film the VFX for the two Star Trek pilots along with his brother Darrell, and later the series itself. In conjuncture with Roddenberry, the brothers worked together to create the transporter beam, starfields and other effects including developing cost effective techniques of integrating matte paintings of alien worlds into live footage. [1] The younger Anderson in particular, was credited by Producer Robert Justman for conceiving the transporter effect visual, "When I first viewed the transporter effect, I was as curious as anyone else might be and asked the inventive Darrell Anderson how he achieved it. Darrell said, "I just turned a slow-motion camera upside down and photographed some backlit shiny grains of aluminum powder that we dropped between the camera and a black background."" (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 51)

However, as soon as production of the regular series had commenced, it was soon realized that the Anderson brothers were in over their head, as the new television show was the most VFX laden show ever produced up to that point in time. The stress of providing the visuals in time and on budget was particularly telling on the younger Anderson, as Justman recalled when he and Roddenberry came calling in August 1966 on the status of the Enterprise footage for the title sequence, "We had seen maybe six good shots and some others that were partially usable. We had expected many more angles, some of which were badly needed for our series main title. "Where's all the other shots, Darrell?" Darrell began to shake. He jumped to his feet, screaming, "You'll never make your first airdate." Bursting into tears, he ran out of the room, still screaming, "You'll never make your first airdate! You'll never make your first airdate!" Gene sat there in shock. I raced after Darrell and caught him outside. He was weeping. And no wonder. We later found out he had been working both day and night for months, trying to satisfy our needs. That afternoon, Darrell went to Palm Springs for a rest cure." Roddenberry and Justman managed to compose a title sequence from the footage already shot, the same day. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 261) This version of the title sequence was only used for the un-aired version of the second pilot, shown for the studio, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", as a more sophisticated one was produced for the regular series run.

Despite the toll it took on the younger Anderson, he remained as committed to the work as when he accepted the commission, as his older brother later clarified, recalling the long hours they made at their company, "I remember that. We'd come in at ten a.m., and deliver that day's work to the lab the following two a.m., sleep in the studio, and be up at ten a.m. again to start all over. We slept at the studio for up to a week during those early days. Darrell had actually three breakdowns, due to nervous exhaustion from each of the two pilots and the first filmed episode ["The Corbomite Maneuver"]. But I recall him being involved after that. He's playing down his involvement, but he was there for almost every show. Darrell took only a week to recover after the first breakdown, about two weeks after the second breakdown, and about a month after the third breakdown. Roddenberry depended on him a lot; Darrell met with Roddenberry every day in the evening, and when Darrell was in the hospital, he did consulting work from his bed. I recall that we worked on the first seven shows before Desilu before started bringing in other effects houses. [remark: Anderson was partly in error in his recollections here, as The Westheimer Company was already brought in on the third episode]" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 11/12, p. 69) William Shatner also related the episode in his autobiography, Star Trek Memories (pp. 204-205), albeit somewhat sensationalized, which was met with disdain by the older brother, "There are a lot of inaccuracies in the book. Shatner got all his information from Bob Justman, but Justman wasn't around our facility every day. He spent a lot of time working on scripts with Gene. I question how much Bob could know in detail about Darrell. They even misspelled Darrell's name throughout the book as Daryl." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 11/12, p. 69-70) It was due to this state of affairs that a dedicated VFX supervisor was brought in, Edward K. Milkis, and he, together with Justman, realized that they had to employ the services of virtually every other VFX house in existence at the time, besides the Anderson Company. Nevertheless, the Anderson company has remained the lead VFX house during the entire run of the Original Series, with Milkis serving its primary liaison between the company and the studio. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 262)

Still, for all the personal sacrifices Darrell Anderson made, his work on the series was acknowledged with an individual Emmy Award nomination in 1967, supplemented with a collective one for his company in 1969.

Neither he, not his brother, or anyone else of their production staff for that matter, were ever individually credited for their contributions to The Original Series, instead being officially credited collectively under the company name.

Career outside Star Trek Edit

Darrell Anderson started to work in his father's company in the early 1950's, while still in his teens, and has prior to Star trek worked on productions like Tripoli (1950, his first recorded individual credit) and Seven Days in May (1964). By this time he and his brother had taken over the company from their father, and he continued to accumulate credits for productions such as the science fiction series The Invaders (1964-1968).

After Star Trek, Anderson accumulated few other individual credits, such as The Dirt Gang (1972), Superman (1978) and J-Men Forever (1979). Robert Justman has reported that Darrell Anderson has left the motion picture industry, presumably shortly after his last credit. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 437)

Emmy Award nominations Edit

Anderson received the following Emmy Award nomination in the category Individual Achievements in Cinematography for his work on Star Trek:

On behalf of their company, he received, together with his brother, the following Emmy Award nomination in the category Special Classification of Individual Achievements: Special Photographic Effects:

Further reading Edit

  • "Out-of-this-world Special Effects for 'Star Trek'", Rae Moore, American Cinematographer, October 1967, pp. 715-717
  • "Where No Show Had Gone Before", Jan Alan Henderson, American Cinematographer, January 1992, pp. 34-40
  • "Special Visual Effects", Dan Fiebiger, Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 11/12, 1996, pp. 64-75

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