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Grant McCune

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Grant McCune
Grant McCune.jpg

Grant McCune

Gender: Male
Date of birth: 27 March 1943
Place of birth: Los Angeles, California
Date of death: 27 December 2010
Place of death: Hidden Hills, California
Awards for Trek: 1 Academy Award nomination
Roles: Model Shop Supervisor

Grant McCune (27 March 194327 December 2010; age 67) was a special and visual effects artist who worked as studio model shop supervisor for Apogee, Inc. on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Model builds he was heavily involved with, were the Epsilon IX station models and the various parts of the massive V'Ger model. Apart from these he worked on the D7-class studio model, adding the additional detailing as well as completely modifying the internal lighting rig, for it to become the K't'inga-class studio model, after Magicam's work was deemed insufficient to meet big screen requirements. (Cinefex, issue 2, pp. 59, 63; American Cinematographer, February 1980, p. 174)

For this work he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects in 1980, shared with Douglas Trumbull, John Dykstra, Richard Yuricich, Robert Swarthe, and David K. Stewart.

McCune previously won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1978 for his work on George Lucas' science fiction film Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope which he also shared with John Dykstra. In addition to his work as chief model maker for this film, he also appeared as a Death Star Gunner.

Early career

McCune graduated from California State University in Northridge with a bachelor's in biology. His career in special effects began when he and Bill Shourt were hired to create a giant, realistic shark model for Steven Spielberg's acclaimed 1975 horror-suspense film Jaws.

McCune and Shourt were subsequently hired onto the miniature and optical effects unit of the first Star Wars film, in which he had a cameo as a Death Star gunner, where they worked under the supervision of ILM's John Dykstra. In 1978, Dykstra left ILM to form Apogee, Inc., and many others who worked on Star Wars joined him, including McCune and Shourt, who became partners at the fledgling studio.

Work for Apogee

Specializing in models and minatures, McCune worked on many film productions at Apogee, including several of the sci-fi/fantasy genre. One of his earliest jobs with the company was as chief model maker on the pilot for the cult sci-fi television series Battlestar Galactica. The pilot was produced by John Dykstra, directed by Richard Colla, and featured Ed Begley, Jr. and John Colicos.

Later, McCune was chief model maker on Clint Eastwood's sci-fi thriller Firefox, which featured Ward Costello and Richard Derr. He was also miniature supervisor on the 1985 sci-fi film Lifeforce, in which Star Trek: The Next Generation star Patrick Stewart had a major supporting role.

McCune's other credits at Apogee included the action thriller Avalanache Express (working with David Beasley, John Dykstra, Jon Erland, Bruce Logan, David Scott, Robert Shepherd, and David Sosalla), the popular golf comedy Chaddyshack, and genre comedies Spaceballs (featuring Tim Russ, Brenda Strong, and Dey Young), My Stepmother Is an Alien (featuring Earl Boen, Tony Jay, and Suzie Plakson), and Ghostbusters II (featuring Aaron Lustig and Harris Yulin). He also did uncredited work on such films as Die Hard and Big.

Grant McCune Design and later career

In the 1990s, McCune departed Apogee to form his own special effects studio, Grant McCune Design, located in Van Nuys, California. Under his company's banner, McCune supervised miniature effects on such films as Speed (1994), Ri¢hie Ri¢h (1994, starring John Larroquette), Batman Forever (1995, featuring Rene Auberjonois), and the Stuart Baird-directed thrillers Executive Decision (1996) and U.S. Marshals (1998).

McCune was also special effects supervisor on the historical drama Thirteen Days, which featured a cast that included Jack Blessing, Len Cariou, Kevin Conway, Steven Culp, Charles Esten, Bruce Greenwood, Tim Kelleher, Boris Lee Krutonog, Ed Lauter, Dakin Matthews, and Bill Smitrovich. More recently, McCune worked on such films as 2002's Spider-Man and 2005's Serenity, the feature follow-up to the cult sci-fi series Firefly. His last known film was 2008's Rambo, for which he was miniature supervisor.


On 27 December 2010, McCune died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Hidden Hills, California. He was 67 years old, and was survived by his wife, Katherine, as well as by a daughter and a son. [1]

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