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Return of The Don!

Updated: May 7, 2021

For the last few years, we've had the pleasure of hosting an annual private sculpting course with the incredible Don Lanning at our workshop on campus. Students, Graduates and Industry folk alike can book onto this amazing opportunity to study sculpting with a master.

It's one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year for us, largely because Don is a wealth of kindness, positivity and awesome knowledge in the field of special and practical effects.

With global restrictions in place to keep everyone safe from Covid-19, an in-person visit to the campus wasn't an option for us this year. But with a bit of forward planning, and working with the time difference between sunny LA and rainy old Bolton, we managed to get a Zoom call with the man himself! Our very own Rik Mcevoy-Crompton, spent a few hours talking with Don about his experiences in the industry. From the live Universal show he saw as a kid that sparked his interest in Special Makeup Effects, to how he tackles creative block and an in depth look at his career, Rik and Don went through it all.

"I met Don thanks to our friends at Gorton Studio and I couldn’t be more grateful. Don is always wonderful value to the students in his classes, his energy and passion for pushing people beyond what they thought they could achieve is palpable. It’s been a blast working with him over the last few years to give our students on Special Effects that little something extra. Working with industry is one of our key foci here. When Don pops in we get to see a brilliantly talented artist, a wonderful teacher and now, an old mate. I can’t wait for the next time."

Richard Mcevoy-Crompton, Programme Leader

The full interview is a University of Bolton Film FX exclusive for our students, but we couldn't do this write up without sharing a very touching part of what Don had to say. Rik's final question to Don was about his words of advice to new artists starting their professional careers. What would he tell them? What bit of advice should they carry round with them while they find their way in the industry? What did he wish someone would have told him when he was just starting out? After a second of quietly thinking about it, this is what Don had to say.

"All that is coming to my mind is 'Don't leave!'. Don't leave... This world of art is the most wonderful thing to me that you can do. Don't leave if you get your feelings hurt...

And here's the big advice. You got the job! Sit down, do the work, relax. YOU GOT THE JOB!

The people buzzing around your head, the people coming up behind you and talking to you, they're your friends, you're going out with them for lunch. But don't sweat them during work hours. Someone is watching, someone is paying you and they're evaluating you. They're seeing what you're contributing to the family of fabricators on their floor. And they're watching you. Don't let that make you nervous.... let that make you heroic! Put your headphones on, and do the job. And do not stop!

Give your gift! That piece of magic that you developed, that art, those tools you love... bring that to them, give it to them and focus on it. And if it goes good....VICTORY! And if it goes bad? Well, I'll have victory another day!"

"Don't let that make you nervous... let it make you heroic!"

Many, many thanks again to Don for this amazing opportunity to hear his stories and get his insight. And big thanks to Rik for hosting as well!


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