Ashtead visual effects expert nominated for Oscar
A MOLE Valley man could scoop an Oscar at the Academy Awards this weekend.
Matthew Butler, a visual effects supervisor for Digital Domain in Los Angeles, has been nominated along with three colleagues for the Oscar for visual effects for his work on Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.
Mr Butler credits growing up in Ottways Lane, Ashtead, for his success on the silver screen.
He said: "I had great support in a beautiful setting and in a way, I think that you are more likely to achieve your ambitions growing up in a comfortable environment such as Ashtead.
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"Jackie Fowler, my West Ashtead Middle School teacher, really started the ball rolling and my dad inspired me in art and technology."
After studying at Manchester University, former Therfield School student Mr Butler secured a Science and Engineering Research Council fellowship which paid for him to move to Boston in 1991 for a master's degree in aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Mr Butler has spent 16 years at Digital Domain and led a team of artists across Los Angeles, Vancouver and Mumbai in creating 3D special effects for the third Transformers movie.
Speaking about the Oscar nomination, he said: "It's obviously an honour and it feels good to be recognised in your field.
"It's also a lot of fun to get swept up in the partying. We went to the nominees luncheon in Beverly Hills, and you're deliberately mixed up in the seating.
"As a result you get to have casual, candid conversations with some pretty interesting people."
Despite his exposure to the stars, Mr Butler says he has no intention of forgetting his roots, and on his returns to the UK he always makes time to visit Ashtead.
He added: "It's hard for me to drive through Ashtead and resist the temptation to pop in to the Leg of Mutton and Cauliflower for a nostalgic pint or two.
"I live in California now but I nearly always stop by Ashtead once or twice on my yearly visits. The first 22 years of your life have a pretty big impact on you and I was born and lived that whole time in Ottways Lane."
"Visual effects is a small field and I've been in it since 1994 so as a result I know, or am good friends with 'the competition'.
"I do not expect to win but I do expect to be congratulating friends."
Mr Butler, who has worked on films including Flags Of Our Fathers and The Day After Tomorrow, will find out if he and his colleagues have won the Oscar at the ceremony on Sunday night.