Thursday , May 23 2024

Fan Expo Philadelphia: Adam Savage on Special Effects and ‘MythBusters’

Special effects designer and TV personality Adam Savage doesn’t see his role at comic cons as limited to signing autographs and posing for photo ops. He wants to encourage fans to try different things and embrace their curiosity. During his Fan Expo Philadelphia panel, he said, “I feel like one of my jobs is as a permission machine. I want to be the one that goes, ‘That’s a great idea. You should totally do that!'”

On Visiting Movie Sets

Savage co-hosted MythBusters, which aired new episodes on the Discovery Channel from 2003 to 2016. Since those years, he’s worked on programs MythBusters Jr. and Savage Builds. He currently serves as editor-in-chief for Tested, focusing on where pop culture, science and emerging technology intersect.

Another facet of Tested is going to movie sets with his team to “interview the craftsmen who are making stuff. We were on the set of Frozen Empire. We got some real doozies coming up in the next few months.”

Those encounters on sets are positive and instructive. “They don’t think of me as someone who is helicoptering in…I’m getting them to talk about their jobs and they’re really excited. Both of those experiences make me feel like my family is incredibly large.”

On His Special Effects Career

Before MythBusters, Savage freelanced as a special effects designer. He built models for The Matrix sequels, Star Wars prequels, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Galaxy Quest and other movies. It was difficult to tell in advance which movies would become box office hits, but he always worked the same way.

“You’re always putting your heart and soul into something that someone else doesn’t care about or it won’t get its full due on the screen. But you work really hard to do your part of it really well. Galaxy Quest was the standout.”

For the sci-fi action comedy, the team “had to build not only the Thermian replica of the Galaxy Quest ship but they had to build the old shitty ’70s TV version of it. It was really funny for the model makers to build a model badly.”

On MythBusters

Savage laughed as he thought back to the original premise of MythBusters. Producers initially wanted “a hot woman” to host the program. “She would travel around the country interviewing people about urban legends. Whenever they said something that was like a testable claim, she would call her guys back at the shop and they would test it.”

Fortunately, after seeing demo reels, producers changed their minds and decided that Savage and Jamie Hyneman should host the show. They held high ratings consistently until around 2011. Savage enjoyed his experiences, but some of those controlled situations wound up to be terrifying days.

One memorable episode was about what happens when cars go off the road and into water. He sat in a car underwater and nearly panicked as the water rose around him. For him, that was an important episode to inform viewers and help save lives in these car accidents. “Disorientation inside the car is the biggest cause of death.”

Once a car is submerged, a driver has a limited amount of time to escape. “Your primary goal is getting the hell out. It’s opening the door or smashing the window. Work as hard as you can to do that. That’s the main thing.”

Visit the Fan Expo Philadelphia website and our coverage for more fan culture news.

About Pat Cuadros

Pat Cuadros is Pop Culture Editor for Blogcritics Magazine. She frequently covers TV, film and theater. Her portfolio includes interviews with Ndaba Mandela and actors Juliette Binoche, Fran Drescher, Derek Jacobi and Brent Spiner. She's also spoken with notable voice actors Petrea Burchard, Garry Chalk, Peter Cullen and Brian Drummond.

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