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            Charles H. Schneer

            Biografie

            The son of a jeweller, Charles H. Schneer was chiefly famous for his collaborations with animator and special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen. Together, they created some of the best-loved fantasy and science fiction films to grace the silver screen between 1956 and 1981. Importantly, Schneer encouraged Harryhausen's imaginative flights even to the point of exceeding his budget - unlike many other producers active in the realm of low-budget film making.

            Schneer had initially entered the motion picture industry with Columbia in New York in 1939. He worked as an assistant there for three years and then did his wartime service with the U.S. Army Signals Corps Photographic Unit, turning out training films at the Astoria Studio in Queens, New York. After the war, he joined Sam Katzman's B-unit at Columbia as producer. It was Schneer's original concept of a giant octopus enveloping the Golden Gate Bridge that led to his introduction to Harryhausen and their subsequent joint work on It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955). Despite a miniscule budget, the venture proved to be a notable box-office success. Their next project together was the seminal science fiction Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956), which took Harryhausen's stop motion technique to the next level. Again, it was Schneer who had provided original background research by collecting news reports of actual UFO sightings.

            By 1957, Schneer had ceased working for Katzman and became co-founder and president of Morningside Productions as a means of gaining more creative and financial control for both himself and Harryhausen (who was henceforth also credited as associate producer). Their subsequent ventures were based on mythological themes, rather than being simply 'creature features'. These included The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) (in which the three dimensional stop-motion animation process was first referred to as "Dynamation"); The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960) and Jason and the Argonauts (1963) (Schneer's own favourite among his films). In 1960, Schneer moved to London to form an independent production company, American Films. He produced several features without the involvement of Harryhausen, notably a biopic of rocket engineer Wernher von Braun. They later resumed working together and had further successes with Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) and Clash of the Titans (1981), with its brilliant Medusa sequence.

            Schneer retired in the 1980's, once stop-motion work had been somewhat superseded by cheaper computer-generated special effects. He continued to reside at his Holland Park home in West London until returning to the United States just three years prior to his death in 2005.

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