Berkshire Movie Makers to bring film professionals together at Berkshire Museum

Diane Pearlman, Executive Director of the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative.

Diane Pearlman, Executive Director of the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative.

Movie Makers in the Berkshires, a panel discussion moderated by Diane Pearlman, executive director of the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative, will be presented at the Berkshire Museum on Tuesday, December 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is free. The panel is comprised of film professionals who live and/or work here in the Berkshires: art director Carl Sprague, director Diana Walczak, director of photography Richard Sands, visual effects supervisor John Nugent, and director and animator Ben Hillman.


This fascinating panel discussion is offered in conjunction with Now Playing: Festival of Trees 2016, on view at the Museum now through December 31, 2016, featuring a fun movie and cinema theme. The Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative is one of the Presenting Partners for the annual holiday event.



Carl Sprague- Feature Film Art Director

Carl Sprague (Stockbridge) is a designer working for film and stage as well as special, site-specific projects. Recent career highlights include concept illustration for Academy Award winners “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Twelve Years a Slave.” Sprague is currently developing a feature adaptation of Edith Wharton’s 1916 classic “Summer.”


Diana Walczak- Director

Diana Walczak (Williamstown) is a filmmaker, sculptor, and computer graphics pioneer. She is most famous for creating the original Michael Jackson HIStory Statue which she sculpted in 1994. In 1988, she partnered with Jeff Kleiser to form Kleiser-Walczak Construction Co. Kleiser-Walczak (now Synthespian Studios) and developed the first computer-generated humans, the first digital stunt doubles, and the first face-replacements in a feature film. Her work may be seen in major feature films such as “Stargate,” “X-men,” “Fantastic 4,” “Surrogates”… and even the Columbia Pictures logo! Walczak also directed an advertising campaign for Sun-Maid Raisins, in which the Sun-Maid girl comes to life in TV commercials and in print ads. She and Kleiser have directed the digital animation of many special venue attractions, including Universal’s “The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man,” Epcot’s “Honey I Shrunk the Audience”, a 3D film opening for Radio City Music Hall’s “Christmas Spectacular,” and a 70 minute 70mm stereoscopic Opera, “Monsters of Grace” composed by Philip Glass and designed by Robert Wilson.


Richard Sands- Director of Photography

Richard Sands (Pittsfield) is a director of photography whose roots are in cinema production.  He has accomplished the lighting on 35 theatrical motion pictures with directors such as Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and Sam Raimi; 47 television movies; over 100 one-hour television episodes; and numerous advertisements. He was responsible for many award-winning projects including three commercials he shot that have won Addy Awards. For nearly twelve years Sands has created the elaborate lighting for the fine art narrative photographs of artist Gregory Crewdson.


John Nugent- Visual Effects Supervisor & Owner, Sandbox VFX

John Nugent (Pittsfield) began his career in the visual effects industry in the early 1990s when he joined a newly growing visual effects community in western Massachusetts. This group had evolved from the cutting edge Ride-Film industry brought to the area by visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull. During this time, Nugent contributed to such films as “Starship Troopers,” “Eraser,” and “Judge Dredd.” Nugent followed many from this group to California in 1997 where his work played a key role in the creation of Vincent Ward’s painted world sequence in the film “What Dreams May Come” and the cutting edge visual effects of the Wachowski brothers in “The Matrix,” both of which earned academy award Oscars for best Visual effects. Nugent also served as the compositing supervisor for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. He realized that with all of the recent advancements in technology, the digital component of visual effects could be done from almost anywhere and in early 2003 he founded Sandbox FX which enabled him to continue his work on the final installment of the “Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King” from his native Massachusetts. Since then Sandbox FX has worked on such features as “Terminator 3,” “Rise of the Machines,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,”  “Night at the Museum,”  “Fantastic 4,”  “Jumper,” “Surrogates” etc. And most recently Nugent was the senior visual effects supervisor for Ryan Coogler’s critically acclaimed “CREED”.


Ben Hillman- Director/Animator

Ben Hillman (Sheffield) is a film maker, designer, author, and illustrator who loves subatomic particles and Betty Boop. After obsessing for years about the evils of mass manipulation, Hillman decided to do it himself by forming Ben Hillman & Company – realizing his boyhood dream of messing with the minds of the general public (as well as making films and writing and illustrating books).



Diane Pearlman- Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative Executive Director/ Producer

Diane Pearlman (Great Barrington) is an independent film and media producer currently serving as executive director of the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative, an economic initiative dedicated to promoting and facilitating film and media production in western Massachusetts. She is also producing the short film, “A Tree A Rock A Cloud,” based on the Carson McCullers’ short story. Award-winning actor Karen Allen adapted the screenplay and is the director.

Pearlman has consulted on many local film projects including Diego Ongaro’s “Bob and the Trees” and Ted Marcus’ “Like Lambs” and has produced and directed several videos for local organizations. In the 1990s, Pearlman was executive producer and general manager of Mass.Illusion, a visual effects movie studio located in Lenox, Massachusetts, and Alameda, California. MI created groundbreaking effects for “The Matrix” (Academy Award 2000, Best Visual Effects), “What Dreams May Come” (Academy Award 1999, Best Visual Effects), “Starship Troopers,” “Evita,” “Eraser,” “Die Hard with a Vengeance,” “Judge Dredd,” and others. Pearlman holds a degree from Vassar College and attended NYU Film School. She’s an active member of NY Women in Film and Television, New England Women in Film, and the Visual Effects Society.


About the Festival of Trees
Now Playing: Festival of Trees 2016

On view Saturday, November 19 through Saturday, December 31, 2016

Walk the red carpet to see more than 100 dazzling decorated trees, bedecked in cinematic finery, reflecting this year’s movie theme. The Festival of Trees is a true celebration of cinema, from film noir and sci-fi to action-adventure, Westerns, and animation. Are you ready for your close-up? Now Playing: Festival of Trees 2016 is sponsored by Hill Engineers, Architects, Planners Inc.; Pittsfield Cooperative Bank; RBC Wealth Management; and Berkshire Magazine. Presenting partners are the Berkshire International Film Festival and the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative.


About the Berkshire Museum

Located in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts, at 39 South St., the Berkshire Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $13 adult, $6 child; Museum members and children age 3 and under enjoy free admission. For more information, or call 413.443.7171.


In association with the Smithsonian since 2013, Berkshire Museum is part of a select group of museums, cultural, educational, and arts organizations that share the Smithsonian’s resources with the nation.


Established by Zenas Crane in 1903, Berkshire Museum integrates art, history, and natural science in a wide range of programs and exhibitions that inspire educational connections between the disciplines. Little Cinema is open year-round. Lab 102, Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, Worlds in Miniature, Aquarium, and other exhibits are ongoing.

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