If you have seen Academy Award Winner “A Beautiful Mind,” “Stuart Little I and II,” “Scooby Doo I & II” “Anaconda,” or “Cast Away,” you have already seen some of Thomas R. Dickens’ special effects work.
Now after overcoming countless obstacles of producing an independent film of this scope, Thomas brings his own personal vision for a science fiction / action adventure / suspense feature film to the big screen in “Aliens: Zone- X.”
Describing his film, Dickens observes: “I want Aliens: Zone-X to give the audience something that they simply do not receive from Hollywood mega-budget films: the director’s personal vision, the result of ‘taking a chance.’
Hollywood films are, by their nature, corporate creations meant for mass consumption. Huge sums of money and talent are thrown in to produce amazing projects, but often projects with no clear message, just glitz and glam, particularly in the realm of science fiction. Mostof it is ‘leave your brain at the door’ entertainment. The science fiction aspect of it is just window dressing, on formula worn out stories. Viewers leave the theatre without a thought about it, and no more of a discussion than ‘did you like it?’
‘Aliens: Zone-X’ asks the viewer to keep your brain ‘in your head’ while viewing. There are many topics that are woven through the film, which I hope will inspire conversations after viewing: ‘What if’ questions.
The science fiction I was inspired by were works by H.G. Wells, the original Star Trek, Jules Verne and others, work that was not meant to be merely flashy, but was meant to ask questions of the viewer. Everything wasn't spelled out for them or easily answered. Viewers must think.
The films were not meant to ‘mess with the viewerís mind’ as many films today do, leaving the viewer ‘beat up’ after watching. I believe the viewing experience should be expansive.
But that being said, Aliens: Zone-X will also entertain the viewer who just wants a thrill to enjoy, and not think so much, it’s perfect for that as well. There are character arcs, romance, beautiful locations, intense fight scenes, nail biting suspense, stunning visual effects, and a powerful original film score.”
Thomas Randall Dickens' Bio
•12 years old taught Stop Motion Animation: Discovery Center Children's Museum in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
•Graduated St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Fort Lauderdale, FL, in 1982
•Major: Cinematography and Communications at Ithaca College in NY. 1982
•Major: Art, Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Major: Business Broward County Community College Fort Lauderdale, FL 1984-1986
•Major: Illustration, Associates Degree and Best of Illustration Award, Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota, FL. 1987-1989
•Moved to Los Angeles in late 1989.
•Began "Traditional" (Non-Computer Generated, Real World) Special Visual Effects and Animation (Stop Motion Animation, Rod/Mechanical/Motion Control Operated Puppets, Miniatures, Matte Paintings, Maquettes, Concept Designs.
•Formed Company: "Integrity Productions" 1991
•Extensive freelance, as well as employed by companies like: Landmark Ent., Full Moon Ent., Frontline Ent., Hollywood Optical Systems, Renaissance Pictures.
•Worked on children's films, for Churchill Films. Also films like "Star Gate, My Fellow Americans, The Arrival, Armies of Darkness, Addams Family Values,"
•Worked for Theme Parks such as: "Jurassic Park, MTV, Neil Diamond, Lion King, and on Television Commercials for: Ford, Walt Disney, Starburst, Thrifty, Charles Schwab, Orkin, Legos, Frigidair, Coka-Cola, Barbie, Pledge
•First Official Title of: Special Visual Effects Supervisor/Producer on: "Dinosaur Valley Girls", 1995
•Started work on first Computer Generated Imaging Effects at Sony Pictures Imageworks, on "Andaconda", as Character Modeler, Summer of 1996. Continued work there on films such as: "Stuart Little I/II, Cast Away, What Lies Beneath, Hollowman, Harry Potter (and the Sorcerer's Stone), Spiderman", working for 4 years, as: Lead Modeler, Character Animator, Concept Designer, 1996- 2000
•Thomas R. Dickens marries, Beata, in 2000.
•Integrity Productions became: Mesozoic, Inc. 2001
•Digital Domain on: "A Beautiful Mind" (Academy Award), and "We Were Soldiers"
•Warner Brothers Feature Animation, starting in 2001, and remaining there for 5 years, working on films like: "Scooby Doo I/II, Looney Toons (Back in Action), Rumor Has It, Dukes of Hazzard, After the Sunset", as a Supervising/Lead Modeler, Rigger, Pipeline Setup, Technical Animator, CGI Supervisor.
•Thomas R. Dickens/Mesozoic, Inc. Does Visual Effects/Animation Supervision/ Production on 5 Independent films, "Girls Will Be Girls, Straight Jacket, Out For Blood, Vlad, The Pearl", etc., and many other Theme Park Designs, Television Commercials and other Indie Films.
•Makes many Theme Park Conceptual Design Illustrations for Mirage Ent..
•Lead CGI VFX on "Pulse", and other projects, for Neo Art and Logic. 2005-2006
•Back to Sony Computer Entertainment of America to Visual Effects Supervise and CGI Supervise a crew of 75 for the Cinematics for one of the Sony Playstation's biggest games: the Video Game: "Lair". 2006-2007
•Return to Neo Art and Logic for work on: "American Pie III, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Pulse II/III", "Jack and the Beanstalk", Supergator, 300, Asylum, and other films, 2006-2010
•Thomas R. Dickens: Writes/Produces/Directs for his second Feature Film: "Faces”. 2009
•Mesozoic, Inc. on "Inale" in 2010, and "Coffin Baby", 2013
•Produces 2 music CDs, including "vividity", as well as Produces the book, "Glances", 2011.
•Mesozoic, Inc., on "Alongside Night", and "Dear Eleanor", 2013-2014
•Mesozoic, Inc. became: VFXrex 2014
•Principal AudioVisual Specialist Raytheon 2008-2015
•SyFy, VFXrex “Cozmos” effects, 2015
•Thomas R. Dickens: Writes/Produces/Directs/DPs/VFX for his Feature Film: "Aliens: Zone-X", wrapped, 2015
•Was a distinguished member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology from 1995-2011. Member of the Visual Effects Society, VES, 2007-2013
•Thomas R. Dickens remains married to Beata, and has two beautiful children, Kylea and Kayden Dickens.
HOT OFF THE PRESS
“Aliens: Zone-X” is the account of how Park Ranger Don Morgan is torn from his routine life when he stumbles upon a UFO visitation in the arid, deserted Park Area where he resides. At the same time, across the same Park Area an inexplicable, bizarre power outage knocks out all electronics and communications, stranding a carload of hikers, and downing a small plane. Searching for hydration in the blistering heat, Don meets the survivors, and must lead them across an apparently abandoned Military Testing area (similar to "Area 51") called "ZONE-X". Is it the sun, dehydration, or is something else (a covert government mind control test or possibly aliens) playing tricks on their minds, confusing them with harrowing mirages? In order to end the extra-terrestrial's experiment on humanity, Don must summon newly found paranormal abilities and battle his arch rival "The Madman" who is also stranded in the park, not to mention gigantic marauding creature monstrosities cyborg spiders, flying beasts, huge reptiles who might be "created" by the Aliens.
I was lucky to be joined by Producer, Director, Writer and Special Effects Master Thomas R. Dickens. Thomas discussed his new film, a Science Fiction Adventure, "Aliens: Zone-X". We talked about what goes into a movie like this as well as got him to share a little about his out-of-body experience.
Next Week's Show
Join me October 13, 2017 for some more interesting guests, stories and weird news.