Academy Award-winning artist turns weather effects into a livelihood

Sturm won an Academy Award for the special effects in the film “Portrait of Jennie.”

The name Dieter Sturm may not be at the top of your list for most notable Hollywood personalities, but what the special effects coordinator brings to motion pictures often give Mother Nature a run for her money.

The Wisconsin-native has worked on special effects for dozens of movies, including the Horse Whisperer, Fargo, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas and Transformers 3.

Sturm is a widely known expert in the entertainment industry who can quickly transform a movie set into a winter wonderland. 

"We could do that even if it’s 80, 90 degrees outside," Sturm said during a recent interview with FOX Weather.

Sturm said there’s multiple techniques that are employed nowadays that can make a landscape look like it has been covered with a fresh blanket of snow.

One of the widely used methods is with a snowmaker truck that can blow out upwards of 800 pounds of snow per minute.

One of Sturm’s most memorable winter scenes came from the production of The Horse Whisperer in 1998.

The special effects coordinator said his crew went up to the mountains of Upstate New York, but to his surprise, there was no snow. 

"I believe we went through about 56 semi-trailers of black ice in just three weeks. And that was a huge challenge because we were up in the mountains, and we had to bring all this material up there and transform it all, Sturm said.

Not all directors are in the market for a snow scene, so Sturm is always prepared to produce anything from heavy rains to winds in a blink of the eye.

Sturm believes wind storms are amongst the most challenging weather scenes to recreate for cameras.

"We have to add all different types of physical things to show the leaves blowing and things are flying through the air and flopping around, so I think that’s pretty difficult," Sturm stated.

When he isn’t on the road, Sturm warns that if you pass his house in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, don’t be surprised if his property is the only one with snow, the magical wonders come with the territory of being a special effects artist with a calling for weather.

To find out more on Sturm’s special effects business, click here.