MASTERMINDING MAJOR F/X
"If you follow the show at all, you know that all the effects in
them are all major-feature quality," says Henry Millar, mastermind
behind "MacGyver's" special-effects team. "Most TV series just can't
afford or will not afford it. Consequently, you write a story with
three times more effects than you could possibly do and hopefully
get on-third of them in. But with 'MacGyver,' we keep writing more
and more really major gags."
At the moment, Millar is concerned about the 12-foot Incan god
being constructed on Bridge Studios' stage three. In the "Treasure
of Manco" episode, seven tons of corn are supposed to pour through
the god's jaws when MacGyver stands on its hydraulic arms. It works,
but not to Millar's satisfaction. When he videotaped the first test
run, the corn wasn't pouring fast enough and Millar is worried the
director won't get it on the first take. And Millar's stunts
always work on the first take. "My whole career has been built
around one take," Millar states flatly. "Anything over one, unless
it's somebody else's problem, is embarrassing. When I came on the
show, I told the crew the same thing. Now they're embarrassed if
they have to do it more than once. It's kind of a nice way to work."
Left to right: Henry Millar, Rex Raglan
and Dominique Fauquet-Lemaitre
In 1958, Millar went to work for his uncle, who headed the
special-effects department for MGM. Later, his father took over and
Millar worked under his tutelage. After stints on "The Man From
U.N.C.L.E." and "Rat Patrol," Millar decided to go independent and
work exclusively on features. He was responsible for the spectacular
oil rig explosion that climaxed "Diamonds Are Forever." He also
received an Oscar nomination for his work on "Capricorn One."
"MacGyver" is the first TV series Millar has agreed to do since his
days on "Rat Patrol" in 1965.
"They pretty much leave me alone," Millar says of producers Steve
Downing and Michael Greenburg. "They'll get a concept, we talk about
it and I say, 'Yes, we can' or 'No, we can't.' It's a great working
relationship that I enjoy. That's the only reason I'm back.
Otherwise I'd go back to features. In fact, I turned down a call
from Fox two weeks ago. I said, 'Sorry, I'm doing "MacGyver."
Left to right: camera operator Tony
Westman, Henry Millar,
Rick Drew and Dominique Fauquet-Lemaitre
Therese L. Wells, editor. The Hollywood Reporter. March 5, 1990: p.S-1 to S-24.