Edward Irastorza Dies: Award-Winning ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ Visual Effects Producer Was 52

Visual effects producer and supervisor Edward Irastorza, who was known for his work on Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning film Pan’s Labyrinth, died on December 21. He was 52.

The news of his death was announced on his Facebook account: “It is with great sadness that I need to let you know that my brother Edward has passed away. Even though he had been very sick for just over a year we were not expecting him to go when he did. He was looking forward to Christmas as Erik was going to be with us. Unfortunately he didn’t make it.”

Irastorza was born on December 10, 1968 in Santa Clara, Calif. He began his career with the VFX genius Phil Tippett and went on to work with some of the top visual effects supervisors and producers in film and in TV starting with Sam Raimi for the Hercules and Xena TV series.

He went on to work for Guillermo Del Toro on Hellboy, Blade 2 and the aforementioned Pan’s Labyrinth for which he was nominated for a BAFTA and won a Goya Award. In 2005, Irastorza worked with Robert Rodriguez on his adaptation of the graphic novel Sin City. 

“Ed Irastroza was a great collaborator and artist and he came to digital effects through a traditional, analog background,” Del Toro told Deadline. “He knew all the traditional optical process steps and raised through the ranks with Phil Tippet so, he was well versed in stop motion animation. He was flexible, affable and full of creativity. One of the best VFX supervisors I ever met.”

On the TV side, Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner and Norberto Barba recruited Irastorza to work on NBC’s Grimm. A big credit for visual effect guru was Amazon’s Electric Dreams, an anthology based on short stories by Philip K. Dick. Producers Isa Dick, Travis Beacham and Peter Horton were impressed with his work. He reteamed with Barba and did work on Mayans MC and went on to work his magic on the first season of Apple’s The Morning Show.

“He was so talented and really integral to the success of Grimm especially in the early seasons,” said the drama’s executive producer Milliner. “On top of it, he was just a great guy. I’m really going to miss him.”

Irastroza reconnected with Tippett while Supervising and Producing Visual Effects for the Alec Baldwin Produced Crown Vic which opened the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.

As a result of his stellar reputation, many reached out to him to work on big shows including Joe Bauer (Game of Thrones), Jay Worth (Westworld) as well as Blair Clark (Ted and the Paramount’s forthcoming Clifford the Big Red Dog). He reconnected with Tippett while Supervising and Producing Visual Effects for the Alec Baldwin Produced Crown Vic which opened the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.

Irastorza’s sister took to Facebook and wrote: “We would like to ask for a favor. As you, his friends, reflect on your memories of my brother could you write down some of your stories with him and send them to me? We would love to hear them and put together a keepsake for his son. It’s okay if they are not G rated. Thank you all for being his friend he really wanted to get back to work and be with all of you again. Now he is with the friends that went before him and my dad.” From there, the tributes started pouring in.

James Moran, who worked as first assistant director on Mayans MC remeberd Irastorza: “I only got to work with Ed a little bit on Mayans MC but he made a lasting impression. Loved his enthusiasm and attitude he came to set with every time.”

“I worked with Ed on Cats & Dogs, Blade II and Hellboy at Tippett Studio,” wrote VFX artist Jeff Johnson. “He was a big reason those projects ran so smoothly, but also that those projects were such a blast to work on.”

Director Tawnia McKiernan chimed in: “My favorite days were the ones where I had something that in solved visual effects on Grimm. Whether it was meeting discussing the effects or seeing Edward Irastorza on the set with those silver balls. Everyone yelling “BALLS”. He would laugh and do his job.”

She added, “Ed brought light to everything he touched. The creations on the screen showcased his talent. He was taken too soon and will be missed. But I know his light will make heaven even brighter. My deepest condolences and prayers for the family.”

“I moved to LA with Ed in 1993. We worked on a crap movie that didn’t pay us in San Diego, so we rented a house in Silver lake,” said friend and colleague Eric Faith. “He got a job on a Peter Falk Columbo movie at Universal. After that he worked hard and moved up quick. He got me a job at Kevin Kutchaver’s VFX company and we got to work together again. Ed helped me with my films and was always there to be a friend.”

Another colleague, Mike McEveety wrote, ” So sorry to hear about Ed’s passing. I [knew] Ed from Grimm, but it turned out that we may have met 20 years earlier on a shoot for Columbo that my father was directing. So, we spent most of our time reminiscing about Columbo. I had an opportunity to bring my son, who was 12 at the time, to spend a week with me in Portland. I remember bringing him by Ed’s office where he was working on some creature morphs. I remember Ed taking time out to show my son the process of the morph. I know how Ed wished his son could be there too. He mentioned to me often how much he missed and loved his son. RIP Ed.”

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