Perhaps you’ve heard of this little startup entertainment company called “The Walt Disney Company.” In case you haven’t, it was established in 1923 by bankrupt brothers Walter and Roy Disney and has since become the most powerful empire the planet has ever seen. Unless you’ve been living in an actual jungle for the last… century… then you probably know everything you need to know about Disney. (At least, everything they want you to know)

Tonight, We RIDE!

Pirates of the Caribbean wasn’t the first feature based off of an existing theme park property, but it is the most successful.

Though Walt and Roy started off by producing content based off of old nursery rhymes and fairy tales, Disney has had a lot of success over the last quarter century with film franchises based off of their famous theme park properties, such as the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Who can forget the wildly successful Eddie Murphy vehicle The Haunted Mansion or George Clooney’s award-worthy performance in the classic Tomorrowland, and the 1997 mega hit Tower of Terror starring the incomparable duo of Kirsten Dunst and Steve Guttenberg?

What? You don’t remember 1997’s Tower of Terror starring Kirsten Dunst and Steve Guttenberg?

Perhaps there have been a few more misses than hits when it comes to feature films based on original Disney properties. But there is no denying the success of Pirates which has spawned no less than four sequels and the potential for more. It is because of this success, and the popularity of the company brand that Disney keeps pushing for more features to pair with their park attractions.

Disney’s newest foray into bringing-the-ride-to-the-cinema comes in hot with Jungle Cruise. Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily “The Blunt” Blunt, Jungle Cruise takes us on a cruise through the jungle. See what they did there?

Ultimately the film delivers huge fun and a spectacle that pushes the envelope of what the visual effects industry is capable of!

Enter Luke Millar

Luke Millar, VFX Supervisor
Weta Digital

I recently sat down and talked to VFX Supervisor Luke Millar of Weta Digital in New Zealand. Hailing from the south of the UK, Luke didn’t have a childhood dream of getting into visual effects (VFX), but was heavily involved in art as a kid and a teen. He eventually ended up in Art School, the two words every parent loves to hear.

Initially interested in painting, Luke’s parents strongly encouraged him to pursue something a little more… vocational… and so he ended up in Graphic Design.

From graphic design to web design to animation Luke eventually ended up studying 3D animation and by chance ended up at a university lecture on the visual effects of the film Gladiator. A definitive moment in his life, Luke says that it was this lecture that exposed him to the possibilities of working in the cinematic VFX industry, not by having to move to Hollywood or Los Angeles, but right in his backyard in the United Kingdom.

At that point he decided that he didn’t want to work in web design, he wanted to work in visual effects. That summer he went up to London and worked as a runner at a VFX Studio which he was able to parlay into a job after graduation. Starting off in television for three years, Luke moved on to film. He then decided to “chase a girl” to Australia, with the logical next step being New Zealand and after working on the first Avatar film they decided to stay, and he’s been at Weta for 12 years.

VFX Galore!

Jungle Cruise

And now Mr. Millar is the VFX Supervisor for Disney’s Jungle Cruise! In my interview we talk some specifics about what he and his team were able to accomplish for the effects-heavy film. We also spoke about how long and intense the studies had to be on everything from the way water flows from one point to another, and the difference between a real jaguar and a “stuffy head.”

Take a look at my interview above!

Disney’s Jungle Cruise is available to watch on Disney+ Premium and is out in theaters now!