The Hollywood Professional Association has announced that Robert Legato, the legendary visual effects supervisor and renowned creative, will receive the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the HPA Awards during a gala evening at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles on November 21st. Now in its 14th year, the HPA Awards recognize creative artistry, innovation and engineering excellence in the media content industry. The Lifetime Achievement Award honors the recipients’ dedication to the betterment of the industry.
Legato is an iconic figure in the visual effects industry with multiple Oscar, British Academy of Film & Television Arts, Visual Effects Society nominations and awards to his credit. He is a multi-hyphenate on many of his projects, serving as visual effects supervisor, VFX director of photography, and second unit director. From his work with studios, directors, and in his roles at Sony Imageworks and Digital Domain, he is a groundbreaking thinker in the development of nimble digital workflows.
Legato’s extensive film credits include some of the most creatively honored and important visual effects driven projects of the past 20 years. He has enjoyed long collaborations with leading directors including James Cameron, Jon Favreau, Martin Scorsese, and Robert Zemeckis.
Legato’s career in VFX began in television at Paramount Pictures, where he supervised visual effects on two Star Trek series, which earned him two Emmy awards. He left Paramount to join the newly formed Digital Domain where he worked with founders James Cameron, Stan Winston and Scott Ross, to forge Digital Domain into a visual effects powerhouse. He remained at Digital Domain until he segued to Sony Imageworks.
Legato began his feature VFX career on Neil Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire. He then served as Visual Effects Supervisor and Director of Photography for the VFX unit on Ron Howard's Apollo 13, which earned him his first Academy Award nomination, and a win at the BAFTAs. He worked with James Cameron on Titanic, earning him his first Academy Award.
Legato continued to work with Cameron, conceiving and creating the virtual cinematography pipeline for Cameron’s visionary Avatar. Legato has enjoyed a long collaboration with Martin Scorsese that began with his consultation on Kundun and continued with the multi-award winning film The Aviator, on which he served as co-second unit director/cameraman and visual effects supervisor. Legato’s work on The Aviator brought him three VES awards and the International Press Academy’s Satellite Award for Best Visual Effects. He returned to work with the director on the Oscar Best Picture winner The Departe” as the second unit director/cameraman and VFX supervisor.
Legato and Scorsese collaborated on Shutter Island, where he was both visual effects supervisor and second unit director/cameraman. He continued on to Scorsese’s epic 3D film Hugo, which was nominated for 11 Oscars and 11 BAFTAS, including Best Picture and Best Visual Effects. Legato won his second Oscar for Hugo as well as three VES Society Awards and an International Satellite Award. His collaboration with Scorsese continued with The Wolf of Wall Street as well as with non-theatrical and advertising projects such as the Clio award winning Freixenet: The Key to Reserva, a 10-minute commercial project, and the Rolling Stones feature documentary, Shine a Light.
Legato worked with director Jon Favreau on Disney’s The Jungle Book (second unit director/cinematographer and visual effects supervisor) for which he received his third Academy Award, a British Academy Award, five VES Awards, an HPA Award and the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Visual Effects for 2016. His latest film with Favreau is Disney’s The Lion King, which surpassed $1 billion in box office after fewer than three weeks in theaters.
His extensive credits include serving as visual effects supervisor on Chris Columbus’ global phenomenon Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, as well as two Robert Zemeckis films, What Lies Beneath and Cast Away. He was senior visual effects supervisor on Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II, which was nominated for a VES Award for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects, and for Digital Domain he worked on Bay’s Armageddon.
He is a member of ASC, BAFTA, DGA, AMPAS, VES, and the Local 600 and Local 700 unions.
Seth Hallen, president of the HPA, said, “It is an absolute honor to present the HPA Award for Lifetime Achievement to the inimitable Rob Legato. His credits and accomplishments have played an undeniable role in the advancement of visual storytelling and expanded the way that audiences experience entertainment. His brilliant work has informed our viewpoint of what is real, what is an illusion, and how stories come to life. Rob has also joined us as a presenter at the HPA Awards, and to have him with us this year to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award is a wonderful cycle of events.”
The HPA Awards honor creative categories, Engineering Excellence and Creativity and Innovation. Nominations for the creative categories will be announced in the coming weeks, and winners of the HPA Engineering Excellence Awards were announced earlier. The HPA Awards are made possible through the generous sponsorship of Diamond Title Sponsor Blackmagic Design, Platinum Sponsor IMAX, and foundation members Avid, Dolby, EFilm, Encore, Deluxe Toronto, and Level 3 Post.
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