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As a former electrician from Kharkov, conquered Hollywood and won an Oscar for a film with Schwarzenegger

21 years ago, when Hollywood did not yet know computer graphics, the fantastic action movie Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the title role was released. Unique at that time special effects for this picture were invented by an immigrant from Ukraine Evgeniy Mamut. In 1988, he received the main award of the American Film Academy - "Oscar" for his work on the film, and the famous Iron Arnie called him "the dad of the Predator."

Photo: Voice of America screenshot

The task for Eugene was, to put it mildly, non-standard. The XX Century Fox film company wanted a character on the screen who is noticeable in movement and becomes transparent when he freezes.

Such a camouflage effect is now being done in 10 minutes, but then I had to show all ingenuity and use an optical printing machine worth a million dollars. The result exceeded all expectations, tells 24 channel.

Photo: Voice of America screenshot

Another cult work of the Ukrainian is an advertisement for “Renault”, in which he used the so-called “rubber effect”, when the car stretched out in the frame around corners. It was something unimaginable at the time. In practice, I had to use 1200 stripes, which overlapped the frame at the right time.

For a quarter of a century of work in the States, Evgeny Mamut managed to join the creation of special effects in many Oscar-winning films - "Dirty Dances", "The Matrix", "Where Dreams May Come", "Judge Dred" and others. In 2002, together with his wife, he opened Museum of animation and special effectswhere reveal all the secrets of the profession. Eugene and his wife rented a room in Lennox, Massachusetts, assembled equipment from several animation studios, added movie posters, and filled the museum with equipment for visual effects.

Museum, view from the street. Photo: Voice of America screenshot

Mamut moved to the States in 1978. As Evgeny likes to say, the Soviet Union "traded him for wheat."

“There was a very bad food situation in the Soviet Union. Therefore, Brezhnev exchanged Jews for grain with Carter. It was a great opportunity for us to leave in search of a better life. And we emigrated. "

Photo: Voice of America screenshot

Arriving in the United States, Eugene began to send resumes to engineering positions and in a film studio - it was cinema that was the passion of the young emigrant, says Voice of America... He received two offers to work as an engineer, and none from film studios. Mamut had a book about computer animation, which was written by the director of Soyuzmultfilm Fyodor Khitruk, and the bibliography of the book contained the coordinates of people involved in computer animation in New York. Eugene started calling the list and one of those people, Josh Rosebush, invited him.

After the meeting, on the recommendation of Rosebusch, Eugene went to the studio, working in which, in a few years he will receive an Oscar for special effects for the film Predator. Recalling how he learned about receiving the award, Mamut says that he worked 17 hours a day at that time, so “we arrived - got - left”. But, of course, the presentation of the prestigious award was celebrated by the whole studio, together with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who played the main role in the film.

Photo: Voice of America screenshot

Yevgeny Mamut was born in Tashkent (1942 year), writes, but spent his childhood and youth in Kharkov, licking the wounds inflicted by the Second World War. After graduating from high school, he worked as a turner at the experimental plant of the Kharkov Polytechnic Institute, then studied at the construction technical school, receiving the specialty "electrical engineer". In 1971, he began working at the film studio at the KhPI, where, together with a young team of enthusiasts, he created experimental animated films. When Yevgeny left for the USA, in Kharkov his name - "traitor and enemy of the people" - was even cut from the credits when demonstrating amateur films, they write Facts. The journalists of the publication talked to Mamut when he came to the international film festival in May 2012.

- You emigrated to the USA at the age of 37. Was it difficult to get used to the new country?

- If you move to another street, then you need time to get used to. But in America, three months after the move, I was already working.

- Did you go to relatives?

- Yes, my parents and sister moved there a year earlier. Then we had a family reunion. True, I really did not want to leave Ukraine. I thought that I could not live without Ukrainian songs and Ukrainian newspapers. Therefore, I resisted as best I could. I remember being told here that constant strikes are taking place in America. My sister was already there, and I asked her: “How about strikes?”. She replied: “Only those who earn a lot are on strike here. Those who earn little are not on strike. ” This calmed me, and I decided.

Photo: Voice of America screenshot

- Did you know English?

- Yes of course. He taught him in kindergarten, at school, then at the technical school and at the institute. But when I arrived in New York, it turned out that I could not speak it at all. Probably so taught - smiles interlocutor. - In addition, the American language was far from English. But little by little, with the help of pictures, I learned. Besides, I'm a techie, and the technical terms are the same in different languages. I realized that New York is the best place to emigrate. Americans themselves call this city "a frying pan on which all nationalities mix." In the metropolis, everyone says wrong, but it does not matter.

- And with the device to work?

- In America, I got to the very beginning of the era of computer "special effects". Everything that was done on the screen before this was not computerized, even the famous “Star Wars”: regular layouts, double exposure, masks. I came to one studio, showed my films, told who I was and what I can do. The director listened to me and said: "No, you are too cool for us." And a long time later I heard in response: "We will call you back." I was completely desperate when I was unexpectedly offered to work as a "cleaner" of the film. The fact is that the film negative before printing is washed with a special solution. Very caustic. And for three months I cleaned the film. And then I ask: can I twist this pen? Can. After some time they told me: well, it means that you will be an operator.

Yevgeny with his wife Irina. Photo:

- And did not even require a diploma?

“They never asked him there.” You should always show what you can do. At work, I told my host every day: let's act differently, let's go for an experiment, there is one idea. Somehow I learned what an “effect scanner” is. Today is the day before yesterday, but at that time, even before computer animation, it was amazing. It was first used in Kubrick's Space Odyssey-2001. Although more clearly the effect is remembered by the viewer in Star Wars Lukas. Remember, the spacecraft breaks the light barrier, and the stars turn into blurred stripes? When I learned how to do it, I came to a complete delight. Imagine a scanner or, roughly speaking, a photocopier: a narrow strip of light moves through the image, copying it. And if you scan and move the image at the same time, it will be smeared, stretched, compressed or grown. The same thing happens on film. Naturally, we often used this “scanner effect” in advertisements. But I wanted something more complicated. And once we shot a Renault car in advertising: here it goes, turns and suddenly ... stretches around a bend.

- How did the work on the "Predator", for which you received the "Oscar"?

- It all started with the fact that the 20 Century Fox film company turned to the studio with an idea that no one was clear: to make a hero that “when it moves is visible and when it does not move it is not”. The most "vague" proposal came from me. And he was accepted. In principle, it turned out the same "elastic effect", but only made in the shape of a person. Roughly speaking, as if you are looking in a forest at a figure in green camouflage through a faceted glass. Hunters will understand me right away. Submitted? If the figure has stopped, it is not visible against the background of foliage, and if it has moved, the edges of the glass or, as in our case, the concave lens become noticeable.


- Did you meet the lead singer Arnold Schwarzenegger while working on the film?

- No, much later, at a party about Predator-2. When we were introduced, it struck me that Schwarzenegger is not as huge as it seems in the movies. He shook my hand, clapped me on the shoulder, and insisted that I was "Predator's Dad."

- What are you doing now?

“My wife Irina, also a former Kharkiv woman, lives in the mountains, in the resort town of Lennox, Massachusetts. We always have a lot of holiday-makers, in the summer there are theaters, in the winter they all ski. In 2002, we opened the Animagic Museum there. For all visitors we conduct free tours. And then we offer: do you want to make your own cartoon in two hours, which you can post on the Internet? All, of course, agree. You can not imagine the joy of a man who first saw how the character he created revives.

We teach people from 5 to 95 to make their own special effects and cartoons. We have one man from Boston. He is a judge, he is already behind 80. With what pleasure he made his cartoon! And one flute player wanted her character to play the flute. When she saw it on the screen, she almost fainted with happiness. Nearby sat teenagers, so they rode with laughter. We get such pleasure.

- What was the most missed in America?

- The first time I really missed our ... bread. Maybe, remember, there was such a black round bread at 14 kopecks. I've been looking for him there for a very long time. But now it is not already in Ukraine. Many products have changed here and, unfortunately, not for the better. Tomatoes have become worse - the same as in America. These are not the same tomatoes that could be eaten in buckets. Although my wife and I are very unpretentious in food. If you want to eat - take something, that's all. To boil is to waste time. During this time, you can draw something or come up with something interesting.

- What do you feel - an American or still a Ukrainian, Kharkov?

- At home, I speak Russian, I think, too, in Russian. So I feel like Russian.

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