Explosive book tells story of Wing-based special effects expert’s role in major movies

Explosions, magic, and visitors from outer space - it’s all in a day’s work for Wing’s very own Oscar and BAFTA-winning special effects supervisor.

John Richardson, 73, has released a new book called ‘Making Movie Magic’, an autobiography about his busy career creating everything from futuristic gadgets and fantasy creatures, to gory beheadings and flying broomsticks.

John still visits  the Warner Bros Studios, Leavesden, and looks after its water tanks, one of which was used for Harry Potter. He's pictured above with his new book. Right: a James Bond scene he masterminded for the film The World is Not Enough.

John still visits the Warner Bros Studios, Leavesden, and looks after its water tanks, one of which was used for Harry Potter. He's pictured above with his new book. Right: a James Bond scene he masterminded for the film The World is Not Enough.

The special effects designer and supervisor has enjoyed five decades in the industry, winning an Oscar for Aliens, as well as two BAFTAS - one for Aliens and the other for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

John said: “I wanted the book to be interesting, fun, and informative about movie making - how it’s done and how we did it.

“I also wanted it to be a little bit historical - my father started in the business in 1921 and the year after next we’ll have covered 100 years between us.”

John is son of pioneering FX technician Cliff Richardson, and can safely say that he wouldn’t be in the film industry without him.

John has worked on films including James Bond, Superman, The Omen,  and all eight Harry Potters

John has worked on films including James Bond, Superman, The Omen, and all eight Harry Potters

John remembers: “ Growing up I was taken onto huge water tanks with big model ships, and I remember that Richard Burton once sat me on his horse; I used to go on location from quite a young age in the school holidays.”

Before he knew it, John was supervising his first film, Duffy, starring James Fox and Susannah York, at just 21 years old, and has since enjoyed a long and happy career.

John recalls working on location being great fun, “a family affair”, and says that although actors tend to keep more to themselves these days you can still get to know them - after all, he worked with the Harry Potter cast to make all the rigs for their broomsticks!

And what about the industry now?

Explosion from Aces-Iron Eagle PNL-191014-120425001

Explosion from Aces-Iron Eagle PNL-191014-120425001

John said: “I think it looks incredibly bright, certainly in this country - there’s 20 or more movies being made at any one time.

“CGI had a huge impact, it’s a fabulous tool, but sometimes I don’t think it’s done any favours. In the 80s/90s you went to the cinema and were spirited away by the magic - but now any kid on a computer can create digital effects . They know exactly how it’s done.”

Model from The World is not Enough

Model from The World is not Enough

Model from Cliffhanger

Model from Cliffhanger