Filmmaking: With A Special Wish the Editing and VFX Community Unite to Make a Teen’s Dream Come True

By in Video Editing

For Tim Brooks, 17, from Dayton, Ohio. Tim is a die-hard special effects lover and film editing buff who is undergoing cancer treatment. While he has had a very difficult battle, the trip served as a good focal point for getting better and, thanks to everyone in these photos, his hope for a brighter future.

Planning got underway in June when David Seyer, Executive Director of A Special Wish Foundation—Dayton Chapter, reached out to Avid for help pulling together Tim’s “dream team” of VFX specialists and editors.


“I wish you could have been there to see the look on his face when he found out what the upcoming week had in store for him. He grinned from ear to ear the entire time we were going over the details.”


Tim received the good news on July 12 that he and his family would be spending a week in Southern California, home base for a close-knit community of editing and VFX professionals and production houses. “I wish you could have been there to see the look on his face when he found out what the upcoming week had in store for him,” said David.  “He grinned from ear to ear the entire time we were going over the details.”


The trip started with a dinner at the Lobster Restaurant on the historic Santa Monica Pier. The next day, Tim and his family met with editor Nancy Forner (The Vampire Diaries, Law & Order: SVU, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and visual effects guru Mike Fink (Avatar, Life of Pi) at Bronson Studios in Los Angeles. Tim visited the editing and visual effects room where work is done on the Witches of East End television series. The show currently runs in the U.S. on the Lifetime Television Network. Nancy edits the series, and Dan Curry, visual effects supervisor, Gene Kozicki, visual effects producer, and several others wandered by to chat with Tim.


Next up was a visit to the University of Southern California (photo below left) to tour the campus and get a better understanding from Mike Fink on what is involved with the editorial and visual effects process. Mike is an Adjunct Faculty member at the University’s School of Cinematic Arts.  He received the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for The Golden Compass, and he brought his Oscar so Tim could see what hard work and creativity can do!

Mike accompanied the Brooks family on a visit with Richard Edlund, a multiple Oscar winner. Richard has worked on Star Wars Episodes IV and V, as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Disney Studios opened up the editing room where The Jungle Book is in production. The film is slated to open in October 2015 and stars Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Bill Murray, Lupita Nyong’o, and others.

Tim toured the studios and met several members of the production, visual effects, and editorial teams, including –

  • Director Jon Favreau (Iron Man and Iron Man 2)
  • Visual Effects Supervisor Rob Legato, a two-time Oscar winner (Titanic and Hugo)
  • Editor Mark Livolsi (Meet Joe Black, The Thomas Crown Affair). Mark has also been nominated for four ACE Eddie Awards for Saving Mr. Banks, The Devil Wears Prada, Wedding Crashers, and The Blind Side
  • VFX production manager Matthew Rubin


After Jungle Book, the Brooks family and Mike Fink went to the Institute for Creative Technologies, a really cool place that does a lot of research in virtual environments.  Affiliated with USC, “ICT graphics innovations help create realistic computer-generated characters in Hollywood blockbusters and also enhance virtual characters for museum and military projects.”  While at the ICT, Tim met Paul Debevec, associate director of graphics research, who demonstrated lots of very cool stuff used in film production.  Tim seemed to have a great time there.  Check out Paul’s TED Talk—interesting stuff!

So many good people in the editing and production community stepped up to the plate to help fulfill Tim’s dream. Sam Manavis, Dave Seyer, and Todd Smelser posted a very dear recap on Facebook, and as you can see, many people were instrumental in making this happen. I’d like to thank everyone for truly having a positive impact on this young man.

Thanks so much!

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