January 17

Gorham native Eric Saindon gets second Oscar nomination

Meanwhile, musician Will Butler, whose parents live in Maine, is nominated for his music in the film 'Her.'

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Eric Saindon, who grew up in Gorham, received his second Oscar nomination in two years on Thursday.

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Eric Saindon

Courtesy photo

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Eric Saindon and his wife, Beth, attend the premiere of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in Wellington, New Zealand.

Courtesy photo

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Saindon, 43, was nominated in the Visual Effects category for his work on “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” As visual effects supervisor, his name appears on the Oscar nomination along with three others.

In 2013, he was nominated for his work on “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” He didn’t win, as the Oscar went to the visual effects team for the adventure-survival film “Life of Pi.”

Saindon has worked in visual effects for “The Hobbit” director Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital in New Zealand for more than a decade. His resume includes work on such blockbusters as the three “Lord of the Rings” films, “King Kong,” “Night at the Museum” and “Avatar.”

“Avatar” won an Oscar for Visual Effects in 2010, but Saindon was not named in the nomination. So he’s still looking for his first Oscar statue with his name on it.

“Another nomination this year would be great, but it will not change too much for me right now,” Saindon wrote in an email from his home in New Zealand this week, before the nominations were announced. “It’s always an honor to get your work recognized but I still have one more Hobbit movie to finish.”

The next “Hobbit” film, “The Hobbit: There and Back Again” is scheduled for release in December.

Saindon’s mother, Lila Saindon of Gorham, said Thursday that she hadn’t gotten a chance to congratulate her son yet because of the 18-hour time difference between Maine and New Zealand.

From what she’s read, she said, the film “Gravity” will probably win in her son’s category. She said her son would be “very psyched” about being nominated and would love to win, but he’s not the kind of person to toot his own horn.

“Eric is very humble, and he just doesn’t brag,” she said. “I do all that for him.”

As visual-effects supervisor for “The Hobbit” films, Eric Saindon worked closely with artists responsible for the characters and other effects, and with Jackson.

After graduating from Gorham High School, Saindon took community college classes, and later studied architecture at Washington State University. He got a job out of college at a company that made animation software. After that, he worked at Santa Barbara Studios in California before moving on to Weta Digital.

Saindon lives in a neighborhood of Wellington, New Zealand, with his wife, Beth. They have four children ranging in age from 4 months to 9 years.

The Oscar nominations were announced Thursday morning. The Oscars will be presented on March 2, with TV coverage beginning at 7 p.m. on ABC. Ellen DeGeneres will host.

Saindon was also nominated this year for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award in the category of “film: special visual effects.” Those awards will be given out Feb. 16.

There was at least one other Maine connection among the nominations announced Thursday. Will Butler of the rock band Arcade Fire was nominated in the Original Score category for the music in the film “Her,” along with Owen Pallett.

Butler’s parents, Ned and Liza Rey Butler, have lived on Mount Desert Island for about 10 years. His brother Win Butler is lead singer for the band. Arcade Fire’s debut EP was recorded in 2002 at the family farm in Maine.

Butler’s mother said Thursday that all members of Arcade Fire worked on the score, but she was told that Oscar rules require that only one member be named.

She said Will Butler did most of the “editing and the heavy lifting” to create the score, at a time when the band was under pressure to finish its latest album, “Reflektor.”

“Yeah, we’re really excited,” Liza Rey Butler said from her home. “I’m sure this will lead to more creative opportunities (for the band) in film in the future.”

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com

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