When the idea came up to relaunch the GGE blog, the most important thing was finding an idea or project that would really make people excited. Looking back through the archives at GGE, I came upon some interesting designs and artwork by the CHIODO BROTHERS (known today for films that include TEAM AMERICA, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, and DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS among others) and I was intrigued. Looking into it more, Gary Goddard found a few drawings and spoke about the Chiodos and asked that I get in touch with Robert DeLapp as well. Robert works with GGE today in Show Design, but was also a part of the original Gary Goddard Productions team in the early 80s’. Robert was able to provide some great information on how Gary and the team made use of the unique skills of the Chiodo Brothers on several projects in the early days — I’m pleased to pass that along here on our site.
Charlie and Steve (Chiodo) are amazing talents and they made some great contributions to a number of our early projects. I think the first one was the CONAN SHOW that we did for Universal. We had the conceptual drawings for our dragon which were done by Claudio Mazzoli (a designer that Gary first met while working at Disney Imagineering), but we need a maquette that would bring the dragon to life in a way that the animatronic engineers could begin to understand.
We were looking for someone who could really bring our dragon – a fire-breathing dragon to life – with a sense of design that would be original to our shows, yet pay tribute to the world of Conan as envisioned by Frank Frazetta in his many CONAN illustrations. Someone in our small model shop mentioned Charlie Chiodo and noted he was new in town but was a very good sculptor. We met, and after seeing his portfolio of work, we gave him the assignment, and he really delivered. I believe we gave the Chiodo Brothers their first job after their arrival in L.A., and it was the start of a long and positive working relationship.
In the early 80’s, among the many veteran and legendary artists that worked on Landmark projects, new talent would constantly emerge and come knocking. Among them were Steve and Charlie Chiodo, (Ed Chiodo, I believe was still living back east, not yet old enough to make the move to the west coast), but Steve and Charlie were very creative talents .
Their first commission/assignment (according to Gary) was the 19” sculpture of the dragon “Ashley” for the live Universal Studio’s show Conan. Their unique style and love for the genre was a perfect complement to the company as we did not have any creature designers on staff at the time. Excited by their work we looked into each new project with an eye toward including their unique style. I remember Gary saying to me, “We should lock these guys up, they get it!”
A few years later we began work on Universal Studios Florida where we designed several attractions and were awarded a turn-key contract to design and produce “Ghostbusters Live Spooktacular”.
Trying our best to stay true to Ivan Reitman’s film, we re-created the rooftop set from the finale of the original movie which meant our stage was 100 feet across. We found that the original designs and details for the ghosts were getting lost in our mock-ups. The original designs were tossed out and we once again turned to the Chiodos. Charlie stepped in, at virtually the eleventh hour, while deeply involved with “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” and designed our entire cast of spooks, minus Slimer and the Terror Dogs.
One other thing that I remember — Many times in the company’s history, individuals, or groups of individuals, asked to set-up shop or utilize the company’s facilities for projects or start-ups and Gary was always willing to assist young film makers. The Chiodo Brothers were one of these groups and they used Landmark’s offices to start-up and cast “Killer Klowns from Outer Space”, hence, we got our Jack-in-the-box for Ghostbusters.
One of the last projects I remember working with the Chiodo Brothers was while we were designing “Jurassic Park – The Ride” for Universal Studios and Steven Speilberg.
Dinosaurs? Again “Who ya gonna call?” This time we needed someone to design dinosaurs that would fit our staging and design concepts – getting the poses and attitude right to convey the story intent for each of the many scenes. Charlie came in and we walked him through the storyboards and plans, and Gary and he worked closely together to establish the posing, and the desired animation (movements) for each of the scenes. The results were quite good and the drawings were used by the animation company, at least initially, to begin designing the animatronic dinosaurs.
The Chiodo Brothers played an important role in many of the early Gary Goddard Productions and Landmark Entertainment Group projects. We hope you enjoy seeing some of their earliest Hollywood work.
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