- Quick Info
- Major: Fine art, minor in illustration
- Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.
- Occupation: Sculptor for set construction
Growing up, Duncan Crawford was always a comic book fan, but he never dreamed he’d be building robot corpses for a living. As a sculptor for set construction for television and film, he’s created everything from the robot graveyard in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to the mystical light cave on LOST.
"I'm like a kid in a candy shop," he said. "I'm a huge movie buff, so being a part of the films like Thor, Green Lantern, and Iron Man 2 is really special."
Duncan's most recent work is on J.J. Abrams movie, Super 8.
Q & A with Duncan
How did Nazareth help you get to where you are today?
In this business, the fundamentals are key. Nazareth taught me the basics: aesthetics, how your eye moves over a canvas, perspective. I took figure drawing, painting, print making, and illustration. And I took a wide range of classes, like printmaking, sculpting, and metal-smithing, to figure out what I wanted to do. That trained me to pick up new things quickly, like working with foam. You can't really prepare to work with foam until you're in the entertainment industry.
My teachers taught me about perseverance. If you have an idea, keep conceptualizing it. The more practice you get, the better you become.
How did you break into the biz?
Right after college, I did freelance sculpting and I met a guy who was carving wooden carousel horses. He ended up in Los Angeles and told me, "Hey, there's work out here." In 2000, I got married, moved to L.A., and get started working for the motion picture industry.
The first movie I worked was Windtalkers, starring Nicholas Cage. There were a lot of extras involved in the battle scenes and we didn't want them running around with real weapons. So we made flexible knives and shovels and a flamethrower out of foam.
What's the coolest project you’ve worked on?
We made a full-scale Megatron robot for Transformers. He was 25 feet tall, from the belt buckle down. And that was just the bottom half! The top half was computer generated.
And we created a scene of dead and rotten robots for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. We used animal bones and sculpted clay robot parts around them.
What are some perks of the job?
Getting paid to build sets for Lost in Hawaii is one! I didn't get to keep any props from LOST, but I got invited to Evangeline Lilly's wrap party with all the cast and crew.
And when I worked on Green Lantern in New Orleans, I was there for Mardi Gras and all the Super Bowl excitement.
Do you ever get star struck?
When I worked on 24 I ate lunch with Kiefer Sutherland. But out here in L.A. there's a level of understanding that you don't bother celebrities. They're just living their normal lives. But it's just cool to see Steve Carell in the grocery store. You can't help but stare every once in awhile.
Any advice for prospective students?
Success isn't based solely on talent. Be reliable, get along with your coworkers, and do your best on every job.