How to Make a Monster: award-winning animatronic movie magic returns home

After touring the world, a collection of animatronic movie monsters has finally come home to south-east Queensland.

The How to Make a Monster exhibition features the creative works of Gold Coast-based award-winning special effects master John Cox.

The exhibition brings together art, science and engineering for a behind-the-scenes look at creatures that either melted movie-goers’ hearts or made them jump in their seats.

Mr Cox’s love of monsters started when he was 14 and had just seen the movie King Kong.

“I said ‘I want to make giant gorillas and dinosaurs’,” he said.

“And that’s what I did.”

He went to the local library and soon discovered the art of what was then called special effects cinematography had a steep learning curve.

“Not only did you have to know how to make what you wanted to shoot, you actually had to know how to shoot it,” he said.

“You had to have all the camera background, know all about film stock and lighting and all of that sort of stuff.”

But by 19 he went out in the world and started making movie monsters.

A man plays with an animatronic dinosaurPHOTO: Displays show the simple techniques used to control complicated movie creatures. (ABC Gold Coast: Damien Larkins)

A career in the movies

Over his career Mr Cox has worked on blockbuster films including Babe (1995), Pitch Black (2000), Racing Stripes (2005), and Nim’s Island (2008).

He won an Oscar for his work on Babe.

“Within 12 weeks he was silver,” he said with a laugh.

“Everybody had grabbed hold of him and all of his gold plated had rubbed off, so he was a silver man.”

The exhibition also features interactive activities to encourage kids to explore their creative sides.

“Just to unleash it, so that their imaginations can take flight for a while and they can see the practical side of actually doing this stuff,” he said.

How to Make a Monster is open until June 12 at the Gold Coast City Gallery.