“Sorry I’m late!” my cousin Warren apologized when he showed up for our interview. “The Jimmy Fallon taping with Julian [Casablancas, lead singer of The Strokes] ran a little long.”
I wish I could have that kind of excuse whenever I’m late to an engagement. This was, however, simply another day in the life of Warren Fu, director and designer.
One of Warren’s most notable designs is of General Grievous, the villain in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. He also designed the motorcycle terminators in Terminator Salvation. Remember the beaming effect in the recent Star Trek movie? Another look developed by Warren. Most of his work, however, goes unnoticed by the ordinary person. As a former art director at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), a subsidiary of Lucasfilm, Warren was there to help visualize concepts for feature films. From skeletal creatures in Pirates of the Caribbean to a futuristic cityscape for Artificial Intelligence: AI, Warren’s talent has been called upon for projects large and small.
Warren has always loved art, ever since his mom taught him how to draw Snoopy at an early age. She first noticed his talents when he started pointing out minute details in the pictures of his storybooks. “It all starts with observation. You have to be able to find things you like, and then process in your mind why it’s good.” “By the time I started elementary school, my notebooks were filled with Star Wars, Robotech and sports car drawings. It was just a way for my friends and I to express our inner geeks. When I got to high school, I began getting into graffiti; that was when I begin to come up with my own ideas instead of simply duplicating what I saw.”
After high school, Warren went on to attend University of California- Berkeley where he pursued a major in economics. He credits his childhood friend Christine Yamashiro for encouraging him to apply for an internship at Lucasfilm on a whim. Originally applying for a marketing internship, Warren hesitated in putting artwork in his application portfolio, especially his graffiti. After seeing his work, however, Lucasfilm recruiters immediately recommended him for the art department. “According to David Nakabayashi [visual effects art director for Episode I: The Phantom Menace], the graffiti was what caught his eye,” Warren states. “He said that those were the pieces that set me apart from the portfolios he came across from the art school graduates. That’s where he said he saw the potential.” After that it was a fast climb from intern to art director in the span of a mere four years.
Pretty cool, right? It still boggles my mind how differently we think. I mean, when I look at a Windex bottle, I see… a Windex bottle. When Warren looks at a Windex bottle, he sees an early concept for General Grievous, a prominent villain in one of the greatest sagas of all time.
Most people would be satisfied with the design career that Warren has had, but he continues to press ahead with another career in directing. “Filmmaking encompasses everything I like into one art form. Music, acting, visuals, editing. All those art elements working together at once really create a stronger emotional impact. It’s an experience.”
Partizan Films: http://partizan.com/partizan/musicvideos/?warren_fu
For more information on Warren, please check out his website: www.seeoutloud.com
Aaliyah Anime TV Spot for MTV and BET: http://vimeo.com/2523140
“11th Dimension”- Julian Casablancas music video: http://vimeo.com/2523140