When Ben Grossmann drove out of Alaska in 2001 to seek a future in the movie business, he didn’t turn off his Saab until parking it on a hill in San Francisco. With a dead starter, the decrepit car needed a gravitational assist to crank up the engine.
Within a decade, the 1995 UAF graduate had worked his way to a top spot in the industry supplying high-tech visual effects to Hollywood. His team won an Oscar in 2012 for visual effects in the film “Hugo.” He was nominated again in 2014 for “Star Trek: Into Darkness” but was edged out in that category by “Gravity.”
Grossmann grew up in Delta Junction. After exhausting his home school options, he started at UAF at age 16. While attending classes, he worked as a photojournalist in Fairbanks. He earned an associate degree but fell a few credits short of a bachelor’s in international politics before decamping to California.
Grossmann spoke at UAF’s 2015 commencement ceremony.
“Become a creator, not a consumer,” he recommended to that year’s graduates. “In 50 years, no one will remember the name of the person that bought the most shoes on Amazon. But if you cure cancer, your grandchildren will go to spring break on a Mars colony named after you, getting hammered on drinks molecularly sequenced from your blood, sweat and tears, having arrived on a spaceship called the USS Your Name Here. I know you can do this, because you’re graduating from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.”
Grossmann co-founded Magnopus, a visual research and development company in Los Angeles. He lives there with his wife and daughter.
More online about Ben Grossman:
A profile in the fall 2015 edition of UAF’s Aurora magazine
A biography at the website of the company he co-founded, Magnopus
A YouTube video of his 2015 commencement speech
A Jan. 17, 2014, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner article about his second Oscar nomination