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John Dwyer: Lifetime Achievement Award 2012

  • John Dwyer SDSA and wife Anita at the 2012 SDSA awards Luncheon
  • Crew from COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER
  • Feature film LARGER THAN LIFE
  • LARGER THAN LIFE
  • Riding to work on JAWS
  • NIGHT GALLERY
  • PATRIOT GAMES


John Dwyer SDSA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner 2012

Read below about the 45+ year career of the award winning set decorator who created the many iconic sets from STAR TREK (the original tv series) and JAWS to PATRIOT GAMES and ALIEN: RESURRECTION!

Watch this exclusive video directed and edited by Keith Salmon on our new SDSA Set Decorators Vimeo Channel:



JOHN DWYER SDSA

As a third generation L.A. movie brat, award-winning Set Decorator John Dwyer SDSA has the business in his genes. Both his dad and grandfather worked in the industry in its infancy. Dwyer spent his spare time working behind the scenes at theaters like the Huntington Hartford, tackling everything from Flyman to Stage Manager.

After graduating from Marshall High in Silverlake, realizing it was a matter of time before Uncle Sam called, he declined a UCLA basketball scholarship and enlisted. He spent much of the next four years off the MIG-heavy Korean coast on board the Navy aircraft carrier USS Oriskany. After he returned stateside, he did a stint as an air traffic controller at Monterey Air Naval Station. What other job would’ve given him experience keeping a cool head and juggling a dozen balls at once, basics for any successful Set Decorator?

His military service completed, he enrolled at the Chouinard School of Fine Arts, now CIA. Education finished he began working at Universal Studios. He was low-man on the totem pole, but within 5 years he had become one of a battery ‘go to” Set Decorators who’d often be doing multiple shows and running  3 or 4 crews at the same time.

Dwyer grew up in a growing industry and managed to accumulate an awe-inspiring body of work. His credits encompass some of the best films and television made to date.

A true pro, his visual authenticity and painstaking research of the Plains Indians' way of life for the mini-series CENTENNIAL earned him an Emmy nomination. His imagination, ingenuity and creativity gave us the look we associate with the future in space. Dwyer did 2 l/2 years of the 3-year run of the original STAR TREK series. His budget was usually only $500 per episode, so he would squirrel away money from one episode for another by scrounging through trash. He’d transform packing materials, plastic coffee lids, whatever he could get his hands on into the Enterprise's and multiple alien environments! In 1980, his strong period sets for GANGSTER CHRONICLES won an Emmy.


In the film world, Dwyer used his Navy experience to detail every square inch of Quint’s character-illuminating shack for the terrifying film, JAWS. The steely cold look of the future for TERMINATOR II created by Dwyer and Production Designer Joseph Nemec received a BAFTA nomination for Art Direction and Set Decoration. He respected the dignity and practicality of lives in Butcher Holler, Kentucky. The choices made for COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER not only garnered an Academy Award nomination for him and Production Designer Arthur Schmidt, but also the praise and approval of Loretta Lynn.


Dwyer had begun to do features but his early and ongoing career involved lots of television, including several gems: ALONG CAME BRONSON. ROD SERLING'S NIGHT GALLERY, DRAGNET, ELLERY QUEEN, KOJAK, THE VIRGINIAN, LAREDO, MCHALE'S NAVY, MACGYVER, MAGNUM P.I....the list goes on.      


In 1967, his long association with the STAR TREK franchise began when Gene Roddenberry asked him to do the original STAR TREK series. By the mid-70s, with JAWS under his belt, he was dividing his time between TV and an impressive array of features.

In 1987 Dwyer teamed up with his friend, Production Designer Herman Zimmerman, to create a new vision for the future with STAR TREK, THE NEXT GENERATION television series. The pair went on to do six STAR TREK features together, as well.


After more than 45 years in the business, Dwyer retired in 2002 and, with his writer wife Anita (Doohan) Dwyer, moved to the laid-back beach town of Encinitas, not far from San Diego.Travel enthusiasts, they have spent a decade roaming the world, usually with a stop in France either coming or going, allowing them to indulge their passion for good food and even better wine. When not traveling, they make a point of seeing the latest films and best TV. Graphic artist son Matt visits often. At 77, Dwyer is lively and sharp but needs a second hip replacement...his first was an unusual retirement gift. Though his usual brisk pace has slowed for the moment, he still volunteers as docent on the19th century clipper ship "Star of India", and is leisurely re-reading CEASAR'S COMMENTARIES. 


Does he miss being on set? "Yes, sometimes, but it’s a younger person's game." He admires the splendid work today's Set Decorators are accomplishing despite the challenges and undoubtedly skimpy budgets inherent in today's marketplace....and he’s downright THRILLED to never again have to set the alarm for a 5 a.m. call.

SET DECORATOR JOHN M. DWYER SDSA

Film:

2001    STAR TREK: NEMISIS       
1999    HOLLOW MAN
1998    STAR TREK: INSURRECTION       
1997    ALIEN: RESURRECTION       
1996    STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT   
1995    LARGER THAN LIFE       
1993    STAR TREK: GENERATIONS            
1993    JUDGEMENT NIGHT       
1992    PATRIOT GAMES            
1991    TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY   
1990    ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS      
1990    ROCKY V    
1989    BLACK RAIN            
1988    STAR TREK V            
1987    JAWS, THE REVENGE            
1986    STAR TREK IV       
1984    THE FEVER
1984    BEVERLY HILLS COP    
1984    TEACHERS    
1983    ICE PIRATES    
1982    V     
1981    THE THING
1981    BUSTIN' LOOSE
1980    THIEF          
1979    COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER    
1977    I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND   
1977   THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN,  PART II
1977    WHICH WAY IS UP    
1976    TWO MINUTE WARNING   
1976    GREY LADY DOWN    
1975    MIDWAY     
1974    EIGER SANCTION
1974    JAWS

    
Televison:       (Selected credits)
1996    THE PENTAGON WARS, TV Movie
1987     STAR TREK, NEXT GENERATION, PILOT, TV Series
1985     MCGYVER, Pilot
1980     GANGSTER   CHRONICLES, Mini-series       
1980     MAGNUM P.I., Pilot            
1978     CENTENNIAL, Mini-series        
1975     ELLERY QUEEN, TV Series
1974     ELLERY QUEEN, Pilot             
1973     GET CRISTY LOVE, TV Series         
1973     AMY PRENTISS, TV Series          
1973     KOJAK, TV Series              
1972     HEC RAMSEY, TV Series             
1972     NIGHT GALLERY, TV Series         
1971     SUDDENLY SINGLE, TV Movie         
1971     NIGHT GALLERY, TV Series          
1970     ESCAPE, TV Movie             
1970     YOUNG LAWYERS, TV Series          
1969     THEN CAME BRONSON, TV Series     
1968     STAR TREK, TV Series             
1967     STAR TREK, TV Pilot        
1966     DRAGNET, TV Series            
1966     IT TAKES A THIEF, Pilot

1966     STRANDED, TV Movie         
1966     BREAKOUT, TV Movie             
1966     DEATHTRAP, TV Movie             
1966     LEAGUE OF FRIGHTENED MEN, TV Movie     
1965     MCHALE'S NAVY, TV Series           
1965     MUNSTERS, TV Series             
1965     TAMMY, TV Series             
1965     LAREDO, TV Series             
1965     ROAD WEST, TV Series              
1965     THE VIRGINIAN, TV Series             
1965     MR. TERRIFIC, TV Series          
1965     CHRYSLER THEATRE, TV Series
                 

Awards:

1981     EMMY:  GANGSTER CHRONICLES
1981     OSCAR  Nomination: COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER
1979     EMMY Nomination:  CENTENNIAL
1969     EMMY Nomination:  STAR TREK 








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