Beaufort Film Festival gives nod to 'Forrest Gump' anniversary

Hilton Head Island PacketFebruary 14, 2014 

One of the best parts of the Beaufort Film Festival Friday had to be the Forrest Gump impersonator milling around the lobby. Dressed in a white suit, blue checked shirt and white Nikes with a red swoosh, he matched the legendary character down to his Army haircut and slow, stilted drawl. 

“Y’all are like peas and carrots,” he said to a couple asking for a photo. “Don’t say ‘cheese,’ though. Say ‘Bubba. Gump. Shrimp.’ “

He even had a Gump-worthy excuse for taking a bathroom break: “I drank too many Dr Peppers.” Tom Hanks would be proud. 

As 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of “Forrest Gump,” the film festival had to go all out in some way. Friday had a special anniversary screening of the film and an award presentation for Arthur Schmidt, an editor who worked on the film. 

There was also a screening of “The Magic Behind the Making of Forrest Gump” which gave viewers a glimpse into how the many special effects in the movie were created. 

Visual Effects Supervisor Ken Ralston explained how he and his team had to cull through miles of archival footage, matching the graininess of old film, putting Nixon’s head on a body double and making John Lennon’s lips move. He said there was also a scene they worked on in which Forrest plays ping pong with George Bush Sr. and accidentally hits him in the crotch. (Which actually happened IRL.) 

Sound Designer Randy Thom discussed magnifying the sounds in the “Run, Forrest, Run” scene, recording crowd noise at college football games, and blending real and manufactured rain sounds for the Vietnam sequence.

In a movie full of special effects, however, the effect most people wanted to know more about was the mystery behind Lt. Dan’s legs. 

“I was always curious about Lt. Dan’s legs. I always wanted to know about that,” Jaimee Kulig said.

Ralston revealed how they made it convincingly look like actor Gary Sinise really had amputated stumps by having him wear blue socks to help digitally remove his legs. They also cleverly used holes and cutouts to hide his limbs. 

“It was so good to see that, because it’s so realistic in the actual film,” Marcus Humphrey said.  Humphrey was especially familiar with the film, having played an extra in the church restoration scene. “What was really intriguing was the leg shots, to see his actual legs and how they did that. It’s unbelievable,” he said. 

Fellow moviegoer Wendy Bright especially liked how the editors took old footage and dubbed people’s mouths, she said.  “It makes it more interesting when you watch it again.” 

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