Michael Owens Q&A: ‘Sully’ visual effects
“It was quite a puzzle,” admits visual effects supervisor Michael Owens during our recent webcam chat (watch above) when asked about recreating the famous Miracle on the Hudson for the film “Sully.” Directed by Clint Eastwood, this Warner Brothers release stars Tom Hanks as Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, an American pilot who in 2009 landed a damaged plane on the Hudson River, saving the lives of everyone onboard. Owens, a thirty-plus-year veteran in the world of VFX, explained how bringing that story to the screen required nothing short of a miracle itself.
Owens has been a frequent collaborator of Eastwood’s, earning an Oscar nomination for “Hereafter” (2010). “There’s sort of a common understanding of what’s going on,” he reveals, “and what’s expected, and how we approach things.” This goes for everyone on the crew, most of whom have worked with the director on several projects, and so it’s always a team effort. “In this case, because the puzzle was so complicated in how to fill in these images, either through computer graphics or through photography, we as a group figured out how to do it.”
Although “Sully” missed the cut for this years visual effects bakeoff at the Academy Awards, Owens is still a strong contender at the Visual Effects Society, which announces their nominees on Jan. 10th and their winners on Feb. 7th. It’s a group that has rewarded him in the past with three wins for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Film (“Flags of Our Fathers” , “Changeling” , and “Hereafter” ) and two additional noms (“Gangs of New York”  and “Invictus” ).