From Iron Man to Indie Films


Clark Schaffer, president of Schaffer Studios, discussed his history working in Hollywood and shared how he and his studio get involved with the independent film community in Utah.

“I’m by training a visual effects artist and have been an artist my whole life,” Schaffer said.

His passion for visual effects began as a child when he would learn about and watch the “golden age” monster movies.

“It frightened me so much and I wanted to do that to other people,” Schaffer said. “All through high school I practiced these things and my friends, we’d make monsters. I’d make little Super 8 films in my backyard.”

Once Schaffer felt he had learned as much as he could about prop design and filmmaking from his home in Oakland, California, he decided it was time to find his big break in the movie capital of the world.

“I packed my bags and I moved to Hollywood,” he said.

Schaffer worked on close to 45 major Hollywood films such as “Batman Returns”, “Batman Forever”, “Star Trek Generations” and “Star Trek Insurrection”. He also helped build suits for the first two “Iron Man” films.

Now based in Spanish Fork, Schaffer is currently working on building props for his own monster movie.

“This film is called ‘The What’, and it’s what in the sense that there’s a giant creature and nobody knows what it is. So they are all like, ‘What, what is it?’ And to me, it’s an homage, I realize, to the big monster films of the fifties,” Schaffer said.

Schaffer is thankful for the mentorship he has received throughout the years, especially from the legendary practical effects artist Grant McCune.

Schaffer said McCune was his “idol” as a child.

“I got to be his production designer. He was my mentor, and he became a good friend of mine,” Schaffer said.

Schaffer is now paying it forward as he mentors Lindsey Lopez.

Lopez, a talented costume designer who has worked on shows like “The Mandalorian”, has learned a lot from her master teachers including Schaffer.

“I called Clark up after some time and I said, ‘Clark, before you die, I want to make Iron Man,'” Lopez said.

Lopez said Schaffer is like an uncle figure to her, comparing him to Uncle Iroh from “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, and even going as far as to make the costumes for them to roleplay as those characters

“He’s just been a great support,” Lopez said. “He really is like that uncle who cheers you on and supports everybody, you know, imagining and being crazy and bringing magic. He really does do that, and he’s very approachable and a kind gentleman.”

Whether it be big Hollywood films like “Batman Returns” or indie films like “The What”, Clark Schaffer has learned a lot through his time making films and is now passing it on to people like Lopez.

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