Craig Hammack Q&A: ‘Deepwater Horizon’ visual effects
“It felt really surreal,” admits visual effects supervisor Craig Hammack during our recent webcam chat (watch above) when asked about his Oscar nomination for “Deepwater Horizon.” Directed by Peter Berg, the film tells the true story of the 2010 BP disaster, when an off-shore drilling rig exploded and created the worst oil spill in US history, killing 11 people. The ensemble cast includes Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, and Kate Hudson.
Because the film was based on, “a real story with real drama,” Hammack and his team felt, “a real need to be respectful, and to represent what went on faithfully.” They strove to keep their work, “true to the story,” which meant creating photorealistic fire and water effects. “You need to stay inside the story, and the effects can’t be noticed as effects at all,” he adds. “You rely on the idea that the story is building tension, and for it to build tension, you need to believe the peril that the people are in. To do that, you can’t be brought out of the real world danger by thinking about CG at all, through any process on it.”
Hammack shares this bid with Jason H. Snell, Jason Billington, and Burt Dalton. They were recently honored at the Visual Effects Society with a victory for Best Supporting Visual Effects, and the Deepwater Horizon rig took to award for Best Model for a Photoreal or Animated Project. The film competes at the Oscars against “Doctor Strange,” “The Jungle Book,” “Kubo and the Two Strings,” and “Rogue One.”