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CoastLine: Film Special Effects Coordinator Will Purcell on Home Alone, why the death of Brandon Lee affected him so deeply, and how film is likely to change

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NC Filmmaker Series
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The North Carolina Filmmaker Series is hosting a free screening of Home Alone Sunday, December 5, 2021 at 4 pm at The Pointe 14 in Wilmington -- to be followed by a Q-and-A with Special Effects Coordinator Will Purcell.

After watching his dad work in special effects for years, Will Purcell started his career on a Chuck Norris film in 1984: Invasion USA. He went on to work on dozens of productions, including The Crow, Scream 5, Gerald’s Game, The Strangers, Cabin Fever 2, Under the Dome, Young Guns, and Max Steel. He counts himself lucky, he says, because he plays for work. It’s never the same old grind at the office, and he often makes it up as he goes along.

When you watch a film and see rain or snow or the effects of wind, or you see an actor shot, a bullet hole appears and blood seeps out – the special effects coordinator is responsible. Will Purcell has worked on film sets creating these effects since the 1980s, some of those years working with his father, Bill Purcell, including on the 1990 Christmas movie Home Alone.

Special Effects Coordinator Will Purcell and his wife, Jehan, work together through their special effects company, but his family’s film work history spans three generations. It begins in 1938 when his grandfather worked as a set painter on The Wizard of Oz. He went to build miniatures -- an important component of special effects in the early days.

After watching his dad work in special effects for years, Will Purcell started his career on a Chuck Norris film in 1984: Invasion USA. He went on to work on dozens of productions, including Scream 5, Gerald’s Game, The Strangers, Cabin Fever 2, Under the Dome, Young Guns, and Max Steel.

Will Purcell says he’s lucky because he plays for work. It’s never the same old grind at the office, and he often makes it up as he goes along.

Guest:

Will Purcell, Special Effects Coordinator

A free screening of the 1990 film, Home Alone, is Sunday, December 5, 2021 at The Pointe 14 in Wilmington at 4 PM.  After the movie, Will Purcell will participate in a Q-and-A with audience members.  

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Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.