Acclaimed VFX Supervisor John FK Parenteau Talks About How He Got Started


Growing up in a little town in Oregon back in the 1970s and 1980s, no one knew about film, according to John FK Parenteau, a visual effects artist and producer with over 30 years of credits in countless Hollywood productions like Sin CityIron Man 2Fast Five, Super 8, The Hunger Games to name a few. He knew he wanted to enroll in film school, but his guidance counselor wasn’t much help. “I have no idea how to advise you,” the guidance counselor told Parenteau. For someone growing up in that time period, there was one person who might understand his dream. George Lucas.

Parenteau wrote a letter to Lucas, or maybe it was to Lucasfilm or ILM—he can’t remember. But he did get a reply from one of Lucas’ people, who said, “you should go to USC film school.” Extremely naive about university admissions, Parenteau applied thinking “Okay, I’ll just go there.” Luckily, he was accepted.

After film school in the late 1980s, Parenteau cut his teeth as a cinematographer. But a parallel interest in 3D computer animation, then just in its infancy, led him down the path of a visual effects artist. The decision was a good one, as Parenteau ended up working for Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Imaging on shows like Seaquest DSV and the Star Trek franchise. Over the last 30 years, Parenteau has formed 2 visual effects companies, directed short films and produced a web series, which he also wrote, directed and edited.

Parenteau will be putting this wealth of filmmaking experience to work for Artgrid x Artlist’s second annual Edit Challenge.

In anticipation of the challenge, we spoke to Parenteau about his path into the film industry and career pivot from cinematography to 3D animation and visual effects. We also talked about his time with Spielberg at Amblin Imaging, and his tips for working with stock footage and sounds, as well as making great music videos, ads and trailers.

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