Director Peter Jackson (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) and his WETA Digital team suffered the loss of two esteemed colleagues last month: VFX producer Eileen Moran, 60, who died of cancer on Dec. 2, and sound editor Mike Hopkins, 53, who was killed in a rafting accident on Dec. 30. In honor of their contributions to films like The Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong, Jackson emailed EW these memories of his departed friends.
On Mike Hopkins, Academy Award winning sound editor (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, King Kong)
Hoppy’s technical skill in the field of sound design and editing was world class — as good as it gets — but what really got him excited was skidding cars in a parking lot, hanging out of the door holding a microphone, or attacking pots of yogurt and cabbages for grisly Braindead sound effects. He had an unshakable self deprecating sense of humor – unfortunately many of the best Hoppy stories are unprintable, with a little scotch at the end of a long day, leading to some legendary escapades.
On Eileen Moran, VFX editor (King Kong, Avatar, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)
Although she spent much of her time handling budgets and schedules for VFX shots, Eileen was a valued creative partner for Fran and myself. I would sit in meetings and approve shots, feeling the pressure of time and money. After it was over, when we were alone, she would say “I could see you weren’t that happy with the troll shot — I think we should take another pass at it.” “But we haven’t got time,” I’d say. Eileen would smile with her quiet confidence, “It’ll be fine.” She was the calm center of what can be a crazy world, she had my back and always delivered.