Kamloops-born special effects supervisor nominated for Oscar

By Tanya Cronin
March 1, 2018 - 4:59pm

KAMLOOPS — It's the biggest honour that can be bestowed on anyone working in the film industry. For one man who grew up in Kamloops, being nominated for an Oscar is as good as it gets. Joel Whist, who used to live on McGill Road in Sahali has dedicated his life to a career in special effects, a career that has opened up many doors. Whist was involved in the special effects of the recently released War for the Planet of the Apes and on Sunday, he may be carrying home his first ever Oscar. It all began for Whist at the Paramount Theatre, when he was a little boy.

To say the film is packed with move magic is an understatement. War for the Planet of the Apes, transforms human actors into onscreen primates, in a groundbreaking piece of creativity. 

"One thing that's important about this movie is that the dovetailing between the practical and the CG is seamless, and that's why it's being recognized," says Joel Whist, Special Effects Supervisor & Oscar Nominee.

Joel Whist, born and raised in Kamloops is one of the people behind the special effects wizardry, and he's being honoured for it. The Blockbuster film, nominated for 'Best Visual Effects' at the 90th Annual Academy Awards.

"I was excited of course, blown away, it's a big deal, it's something I'm not used to." 

Two hours and 20 minutes, and all but just a few shots include visual effects. But Whist and his team worked well beyond digitally created apes, specializing in what he likes to call 'old school' effects.

"What I do is the practical side, the fire, the explosions, the rain, the snow, the monkey poo, all that stuff."

It was at the age of 14 that Joel Whist knew he wanted to enter the film making business. And he has a specific movie at the Paramount Theatre downtown to thank. The only cinema in Kamloops at the time.  

"I saw Star Wars in Kamloops in the theatre, I was blown away, at that point in my life I was one of those nerds who liked to build models in his bedroom after school, and I had built space ship models and war models for a long time, and I saw that movie and went somebody's actually getting paid to do that, I want to do that."

Whist's mom supported his passion by giving him comics, magazines, and books on special effects. From there, he eventually moved to Vancouver to pursue his dream. He's known for his work in Godzilla, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, BFG, Man of Steele, the Underworld movies, Altered Carbon (TV Series) 

With each new story there's new, exciting elements to create. In War for the Planet of the Apes, that was snow. But shooting six weeks in the middle of a wet Vancouver winter, wasn't easy.  
"All the snow we put down was fake, we couldn't use traditional snow techniques, we had to use crushed Dolomite, we used 750 tonnes of white sand basically to dress the prison set, which had to be constantly cleaned and fluffed up for every night."

This is the third installment in the Planet of the Apes reboot series. Joel Whist says the oscar nomination feels surreal, but he hopes 35 years of hard work will mean hitting the biggest stage in Hollywood. 

"Hopefully I'll be able to say something if we win, knock on wood, but just being there the experience itself is amazing," says Whist.

To this date, no Canadian Practical Effects Supervisor has won an Oscar. Joel Whist will be travelling to Los Angeles to walk the red carpet with his wife. The 90th Academy Awards, will take place Sunday March 4th. 



Heavy February snowfall has forced city to plow through budget