The Nightmare Before Christmas effects artist turned 72 – The Hollywood Reporter

Pete Kozachik, the Oscar-nominated visual effects artist who brought his stop-motion expertise to films like The nightmare before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, corpse bride And Coraline, has died. He was 72.

Kozachik died peacefully Tuesday in hospice care at his home in Northern California from complications of primary progressive aphasia, a rare form of Alzheimer’s, said his wife, Katy Moore-Kozachik The Hollywood Reporter.

Kozachik also operated a stop-motion camera Ghostbusters II (1989) and served as a director for miniature photography Starship Troopers (1997) and worked as a visual effects cameraman Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002).

At Industrial Light & Magic he worked on films, among other things Howard the duck (1986), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), inner space (1987) and pasture (1988) before returning to his frequent collaborator Phil Tippett RoboCop Sequels released in 1990 and 1993.

Kozachik was the cameraman for director Henry Selick The nightmare before Christmas (1993), James and the Giant Peach (1996) – both produced by Tim Burton – and Coraline (2009) and for Burton and co-director Mike Johnson on corpse bride (2005).

He shared his Oscar nomination nightmareThe best visual effects from Eric Leighton, Ariel Velasco-Shaw and Gordon Baker.

The nightmare before Christmas

Jack Skellington in the 1993s The nightmare before Christmas

Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Peter Alan Kozachik grew up in Michigan and began making his own stop-motion films in sixth grade after seeing a photo of VFX legend Ray Harryhausen next to the cyclops and dragon puppets he was creating The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and “realized that these numbers weren’t as big as I thought, so I felt like I could do it,” he said called back in a 2011 interview.

After moving to Tucson and graduating from Catalina High School in 1969 and then the University of Arizona, he worked as a middle school teacher for a year, directed shows for local television station KZAZ, and made cartoons and industrial films before heading to Hollywood went.

Beginning in 1979, he worked for several years at Coast Special Effects in North Hollywood and then moved to the Bay Area to do feature camera work at ILM.

Kozachik also did commercials with the Pillsbury Doughboy, Scrubbing Bubbles, Mr. Clean and other characters; was an advanced scuba diver and underwater photographer; and built his own airplane engine.

She also worked alongside his wife of 21 years – a set designer corpse bride And Coraline – Survivors include his younger brother Steve, vice mayor of Tucson, Arizona; sister-in-law Ann; and niece Kimberly.

Despite his illness – he was diagnosed with aphasia, which deprives a person of their ability to communicate, 10 years ago – Kozachik received a recognition in 2021 for Tippett’s animated horror fantasy Crazy God and published his memoirs, Tales from the Pumpkin King’s Cameramana title that refers to the character Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon). nightmare.

Burton wrote in a foreword to the book: “Watching him work was like watching a giant hover over a quiet village or a mad scientist in his laboratory bringing inanimate objects to life; Finding ways to find both high-tech and low-tech ways to solve problems; and carefully and tactically bring the miniature sets to life. Pete’s unique style gives you a glimpse into this special world and the craziness, excitement, depression, humor, anger, loneliness and creativity that it all brings.”

Brian Ashcraft

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