Former UAF student receives Oscar nomination

Amelia Cooper/Sun Star Reporter
Feb. 14, 2012

A movie poster for the recently released film "Hugo", which earned Grossman a Oscar nomination. Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Former UAF student Ben Grossmann was recently nominated for an Oscar for his work on the movieHugo.

“Hugo,” a new Paramount film, takes a three-dimensional approach to the novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznik. Grossmann was nominated for “Best Visual Effects” for his work as a visual effects supervisor with Pixomondo on the project. The Scorsese-directed film hit theaters in November of 2011. The  Best Achievement in Visual Effects nomination is one of the eleven Oscar nods the film received including Best Picture, Director and Screenplay. 

Grossmann left Fairbanks more than a decade ago to pursue a career in visual production. He currently lives in San Diego, Calif., where he has worked with such visual effects companies as The Syndicate, CafeFX and Pixomondo.

Charles Mason, the photojournalism professor at UAF, is proud of his long-ago student and teaching assistant, he said. “I think he left here before he graduated, but we can still claim him as an alumn.” Grossmann left the university when he was close to finishing a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism, Mason said, but, “he wanted to go get on with the world, on to bigger and better things.”

A former Channel 7 co-worker of Grossmann’s, Andrew Cassel, is excited to see the film in its full glory, he said. “Go see it in 3D, because they never looked at it in 2D while they were making it,” he said.

Cassel, now the multimedia coordinator at UAF, describes his former colleague as an inspiring, charismatic and thoughtful man who did dynamic work and took his job seriously. “He pushed the technology he had to the limits — not because of the products he was selling, but for his love of the art,” Cassel said.

Mason has similar memories of Grossmann’s student work. “He had talent coming out of his ears as far as his art goes.”

Grossmann has created visual effects for more than a dozen other films, including most recently “Alice in Wonderland,” “Shutter Island” and “2012.” This is his fourth nomination for an award, but his first Oscar nomination. In 2006, he won an Emmy for visual effects work on the miniseries “Bryan Singer and Dean Devlin Present The Triangle.”

The Academy Award winners will be announced on Feb. 26.

“I hope that he wins because he’s so creative and great. He’s one of those people — you know those people — who just have so much light in them,” Cassel said. “You see them and you know that they were made to succeed.”

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