San Francisco-based Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), a division of Lucasfilm, has hired film producer Sam Mercer as head of ILM Studio. Reporting to Lucasfilm GM Lynwen Brennan, Mercer will oversee and coordinate the company’s operations across all four of ILM’s global studios — San Francisco, Singapore, Vancouver and London.
Mercer has produced many high-profile films over the years such as Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars; seven of M. Night Shyamalan’s films, including Signs and The Sixth Sense for which he received both Academy Award and BAFTA Best Picture nominations; Sam Mendes’ Jarhead; and Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman. Mercer is also a producer on Steven Spielberg’s upcoming fantasy film The BFG, based on the novel by Roald Dahl.
Says Brennan, “[Sam has] vast experience as a producer and together with his long history with visual effects including eight films with ILM, he provides a valuable perspective within the VFX industry. As visual effects becomes increasingly integrated into filmmaking from pre-production through to post, Sam’s filmmaker point of view enables us to provide a unique level of creative collaboration and partnership with directors, producers and studios to bring their visions to the screen.”
Having previously been with The Walt Disney Studios as a production executive, Mercer supervised such films as Good Morning, Vietnam, Three Fugitives and Dead Poets Society. Within a few years, Mercer was promoted to VP of motion picture production for Hollywood Pictures, and in addition to Arachnophobia he was responsible for such releases as Quiz Show, The Joy Luck Club, Born Yesterday, Swing Kids and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Mercer left Hollywood Pictures to pursue independent producing on Frank Marshall’s second film, Congo.
Mercer started in the film business as a freelance location and unit production manager on such films as The Witches of Eastwick, Peggy Sue Got Married, Stripes, Swing Shift and The Escape Artist. He also served as the associate producer/unit manager for KCET-TV in Los Angeles where he received a Daytime Emmy for the live presentation of the San Francisco Opera’s production of La Gioconda.
Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, noted, “I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Sam for many years and I have come to rely on his skill as a creative problem solver. Sam has that rare ability to head off potential issues before they become real problems, and he manages to do it while maintaining an even keel and level of professionalism that has earned him the respect and admiration of every crew he works with.”