I would like to start this post by noting that we are breaking from our usual format for a personal statement.
Tonight we raise a toast to a legend; the loss of Dick Smith is truly a loss for us all. Despite his age, Dick was a constant for those in the special effects (FX) world. And for those of us who were lucky enough to know and work with him, Dick was always there – inspiring, helping, and never shy about sharing his knowledge with – well, everyone. Unlike so many before and after him, Dick taught us that the knowledge we gain and the skills we develop should not be held in secret, but rather should be shared with other FX professionals – and with the world. Dick was not one to be shy about his opinions, but was always helpful and happy to give praise or constructively guide where it was needed. If Dick said, “let’s try this” or maybe “look at it this way”, you did it, and were never surprised to see it come out better. It was just who he was.
For those of a younger generation (or outside of the FX world) who may not know Dick’s work, we will start by saying that there is no one in the TV, movie, theatre or theme park special effects industry who can claim they were not touched or affected by his influence. He was instrumental in making both the makeup and special effects industry what it is today. If you are a fan of any physical effect, then you are a fan of Dick Smith. As his work speaks for itself, tonight I prefer to focus on the man. A loving father and husband, Dick spoke of his family occasionally but was very private in regards to his personal life. He was a man who lived for his work, yet often regretted not having been able to spend more time with his loved ones during the early part of his career.
(I had the pleasure of giving Dick a tour around Weta Workshop)
I was lucky enough to know Dick and converse with him regularly in his later years. He had been my teacher and mentor, and over the years became a friend too. Living so far apart, our conversations were rare. Nevertheless, I was always confident that if I were in a bind or needed guidance, Dick would be there for me. Dick had celebrated his 92nd birthday this past June and even though it was reported that he was in ill health, it was still a surprise when word of his passing reached us here at BtT. Though many around the world will never realise the profound affect his life had on theirs, those of us who are aware will grieve. We send our deepest condolences out to his family and friends.
There are few people in this world who create a deep sense of loss in their passing. For many of us, Dick was one of those few. A legend, not only as the godfather of makeup and effects, but as a great man and mentor.
(Classic examples of Dick’s work)
Thank you for everything, my friend. I will miss you immensely and I cannot possibly thank you enough for all you have done. As I sit here writing tonight, I can’t help but wonder if I told you enough – if any of us did – just how much we love and appreciate you.