Updated, Feb. 26 at 10:05 p.m.
Moments ago, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored those who created the visual effects for the successful film Hugo with this year’s Oscar in that category.
Suffield native Greg Butler and three others were nominated for an Oscar tonight for their work creating the visual effects on the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 film.
Earlier this month Butler and his team received the British equivalent of the Oscar, a BAFTA award, for special visual effects they used to bring the Harry Potter characters and setting to life.
When the 84th annual Academy Awards are presented on Feb. 26, residents of Suffield will have a hometown nominee to cheer. Greg Butler, a graduate of , is up for the Visual Effects award for his work on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
From an early age, Butler had an interest in making films, according to his mother Ellie Binns.
“He and his brother used to make films,” she said, recalling their childhood endeavors in Suffield with neighborhood children.
Greg carried his passion to his studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, and to Industrial Light and Magic in San Francisco, working as an intern for the company owned by George Lucas. One of the first films he worked on was the Oscar-winning best picture Forrest Gump.
Butler is currently employed by the Moving Picture Company as a visual effects supervisor, where he heads up production teams as large as several hundred people, artists, designers and others to create the images for Hollywood productions. His credits include some of the most beloved films of recent history including the Harry Potter movies, The Chronicles of Narnia, and the recent remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Though Greg now resides in Vancouver, he spent several years in New Zealand while working on the visual effect for popular Lord of the Rings films. He is now working on the upcoming Jack the Giant Killer movie, slated for a 2013 release and directed by Bryan Singer of X-Men fame.
The Academy announced the nominations for all categories last Tuesday, but the process began much sooner for the Harry Potter team. At an event known as the VFX (visual effects) “bake-off,” the ten films in the running for the visual effects award are given the opportunity to show off a 10-minute real highlighting their work to the VFX membership who cull the list down to the five nominees. The “bake-off” is open to the public and is one of the Academy's most popular events prior to the awards presentation.
Asked about her son's chances for taking home the award, Binns said, “the competition is very strong. This is the last Harry Potter movie, so maybe that will carry some emotional impact. Harry Potter films have not ever won for visual effects.”
Before the end of February Academy Awards, Butler will be making a trip to London for the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) ceremony. Butler and his team are also up for this British equivalent to the Oscars. The BAFTAs will be presented on Feb. 12 and a victory there could be an indication of Butler's chance for the prestigious Academy Award. (Update: Butler and his team won a 2012 BAFTA award for best special visual effects for his work on the Harry Potter film.)
Other films nominated for the visual effects Oscar are, Hugo, Real Steel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Butler regularly visits Suffield, and was last in town for the Christmas holidays.
Editor's Note: The name of the town in which Hampshire College is located was incorrect in the original publication of this story. It has since been corrected.