RACINE — This week, the Land of Oz makes its return to the big screen in what is sure to be one of the year’s most visually stunning films.
And the man who helped transform soundstage and bluescreen into Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” is director of photography and 1976 St. Catherine’s High School graduate Peter Deming.
The film marks a significant milestone in Deming’s career, which already includes nearly three decades of Hollywood experience and work on films from “My Cousin Vinny” and “Mulholland Drive” to movie franchises such as “Scream” and “Austin Powers.”
“It certainly is the biggest film I’ve done,” Deming, 55, said last week before traveling to London for one of the film’s premieres. “It’s certainly the most visual-effects-intensive film. So we’ll sort of see where this takes me.”
Like the landmark 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,” the entire movie was shot on soundstages, which means creating vast outdoor, daytime scenes inside a studio building.
The bulk of the filming was completed in Michigan, home state of director Sam Raimi, who selected Deming to handle the film’s technical aspects, from lighting to lenses as telling the story in 3-D — a new process for both men.
“If you get a chance to see it in 3-D, I highly recommend that you do that,” Deming said. “I think it’s all sort of spectacular to watch, and hopefully a story that everyone can latch onto.”
Added to the welcomed challenges of working with a massive budget, estimated at about $200 million, and shooting in 3-D was, Deming said, the task of handling “a film that is so much a part of everyone’s collective memory. There’s a lot of legacy there. It’s sort of a heavy burden.
“And hopefully we can live up to it.”
Deming, who recalled afternoons when “The Wizard of Oz” was playing on TV, said fans of the 1939 film can look forward to plenty of tie-ins and homage, such as a black-and-white opening set in Kansas.
“I think it’s a pretty wild ride, so it’s a question of which sort of aspects of the film people pick up on,” said Deming, anticipating audience reactions on opening weekend. “I’m very curious what sinks in the first time.”
Editor's note: Peter Deming's graduation year was reported incorrectly in an earlier version of this story. It has been updated to the correct year.