On Monday I had the pleasure of interviewing three (3) filmmakers: Alfredo Montero, writer/director of La Cueva (In Darkness We Fall), John Maloof, writer/director of Finding Vivian Maier, and the legendary Steve “Spaz” Williams, Academy Award nominee for The Mask, and Chief Animator onThe Abyss, Terminator 2, andJurassic Park. The latter graphics pioneer had been in Miami to thrill with a presentation on a brief history of CGI at Miami Beach Cinematheque on Sunday.
My third interview was with Steve “Spaz” Williams. Of course I could not resist asking how he was given the sobriquet, “Spaz.” Dressed in army camouflage fatigues, boots, and cap, the former hockey player and member of the Canadian Navy and greeted me with a strong, firm handshake. Spaz? “In the beginning,” he began, “we were a small group (7) of animators and engineers. Everyone was told to choose a unique e-mail handle. I chose ‘Spaz.’ Imagine my surprise when the credits rolled for The Abyss and my name appeared as Spaz Williams.”
Anyhow, it stuck. Spaz told me that Bugs Bunny was his inspiration for becoming an animator. He recalled being thrilled at meeting the legendary Chuck Jones, creator of the original Bugs Bunny (there have been several BBs over the years). Jones told him that his Bugs was a cross between Harpo Marx and Jack Benny. Spaz showed me a clip of a 1952 Jones cartoon with which he opened his presentation Sunday (sponsored by Kreative Kontent, his representative). Spaz is charmingly old-school in his love of animation. A legend and a nice guy.