Film

Call for Papers: Conventional Special Effects & Unconventional Thinking - The Legacy of Harryhausen

Without Ray Harryhausen’s monstrous inspirations, would so many films we love to fear have been as terrifying?

Deadline for essay pitches: Friday, September 11th

First drafts: Friday October 23rd

Final essay: Friday, November 13th

Submit your pitches to: PopMatters' editor Dawn Eyestone eyestone@popmatters.com; cc: zarker@popmatters.com

Email subject line: Harryhausen SFX Legacy

Although filmmaker and special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen officially retired from feature filmmaking in the '80s, his legacy continues on the set of B-movie films and Hollywood blockbusters alike. Even filmgoers who’ve never heard of Harryhausen are likely familiar with his film techniques and might recognize one or two of his creations. Without Harryhausen’s creatures in Clash of the Titans, film geeks everywhere would be without the battle cry “Release the Kraken!” Without Harryhausen’s development of stop-motion filming, how would George Lucas have made Luke Skywalker run across a frozen wasteland on the back of a fictitious Tauntaun? Without Harryhausen’s monstrous inspiration, would Spielberg’s Jaws have been as terrifying?

Ray Harryhausen’s contributions to the film industry, especially to conventional special effects development and storytelling in the genre of science fiction and fantasy, are incalculable.

This series of essays seeks to examine and analyze this pioneer (dare we say titan?) of special effects (SFX) in-depth.

Essays for this series could touch on Harryhausen’s career, legacy, and inspiration; or specific films, SFX techniques, and genres. Authors are encouraged to be creative and, like Harryhausen himself, explore unique and interesting perspectives on the subject matter. Possible topics include:

SFX as an intrinsic part of good storytelling

Specific techniques as developed or used by Harryhausen and his contemporaries (e.g., Dynamation, Stop Motion, Rotoscoping)

Harryhausen’s early career and inspiration, e.g., Willis O’Brien’s King Kong

Critiques and analyses of feature films and other projects important to SFX development (e.g., Jason and the Argonauts, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, 20 Million Miles to Earth, Mysterious Island, Clash of the Titans (1983), George Pal’s Puppetoons, WWII Army propaganda films)

Influences on later entertainment and contemporary pop culture, including connections to films/filmmakers (e.g., Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, Star Wars, The Terminator)

Comparisons between films and their remakes as related to special effects and storytelling (e.g., Clash of the Titans 1981 v. 2010, King Kong 1933 v. 2005) though such essays should be scholarly and thoughtful, focused on filmmaking, genre, technique, and/or storytelling rather than fan arguments about “which was better”.

Of special interest to the editors are essays that touch on Harryhausen’s development of special effects in science fiction of the '50’s, '60s, and '70s, which contributed to the genre’s current place in mainstream entertainment; and essays that provide in-depth analyses of the connection between the use of conventional special effects and strong storytelling. The editors are not looking for essays focused on computer generated effects; however, they will consider essays that discuss CGI as directly related to the use of conventional SFX and/or storytelling.

Essays accepted for this series should target Harryhausen and SF film fans or cultural generalists and will be published on the PopMatters website. Essays should be written in PopMatters style; erudite, engaging and entertaining, but not laden with academic language. Essays length is approximately 1,500 – 2,500 words in MLA format.

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