28 Feb 2017

Kiwi Oscar winner describes moment award announced

From Checkpoint, 5:48 pm on 28 February 2017

A Kiwi who worked on The Jungle Book says his team winning the Oscar for best visual effects feels "surreal".

"It's just a fantastic treat to be able to be up there," said Dan Lemmon, from Weta Digital in Wellington. 

The Jungle Book beat fellow nominees Doctor Strange, Kubo and the Two Strings, Deepwater Horizon and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Other than the actor who played Mowgli, almost nothing else in the film existed. 

Mr Lemmon said winning an Oscar felt "pretty surreal". 

He has been to three Academy Award ceremonies, but this was the first where he won. 

"You just never know what the Academy is going to decide on the day," he said. 

(L-R) Visual effects artists Dan Lemmon, Andrew R. Jones, Adam Valdez and Robert Legato, winners of Best Visual Effects for 'The Jungle Book' pose in the press room during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on 26 February 2017 in Hollywood, California.

Dan Lemmon, far left, with fellow visual effects artists Andrew R Jones, Adam Valdez and Robert Legato pose after winning the Oscar for Best Visual Effects for 'The Jungle Book'. Photo: AFP

About 400 people worked on the movie in New Zealand, from a few weeks to a year and a half, Mr Lemmon said. 

He was one of four or five visual technicians. 

"It's an army of individuals to make a movie like that.

"It's magic. Suddenly you are taken to a place that doesn't exist, you believe that these characters.. feel and breathe and you have empathy for them. 

"If you get sucked in, and if you get engaged, you know it's going to work for the audience."

New Zealand film editor John Gilbert, meanwhile, won gold for his work on Mel Gibson's war film Hacksaw Ridge.

It was his first Academy Award and his second nomination, having worked with Peter Jackson on the first Lord of the Rings film, The Fellowship of the Ring.


  • Kiwi Oscar winner John Gilbert
  • Auditing firm apologies over Oscars blunder
  • Oscars fiasco - there have been a few
  • Oscars 2017: The awards as they happened
  • Oscars 2017: Davis and Ali win for Fences, Moonlight