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And the Oscar Goes to ... Bill

Posted: March 2, 2008 1:39 a.m.
Updated: May 3, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Last Sunday, Bill Westenhofer was sitting at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood wondering if he was going to take home an Oscar for his visual effects work in "The Golden Compass."

"I didn't expect to win," the Stevenson Ranch resident said, noting that "Transformers" was favored to win and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" was also in the category.

But then he heard his name.

At that moment, Westenhofer said it seemed like all sound just disappeared.

"My producer was jumping up and down," he said.

The win came two weeks after his visual effects work for the same movie won at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts ceremony in London.

Months earlier, he walked away with a technical achievement Academy Award for the water effects in "The Golden Compass," the 2007 fantasy thriller. Since the wins, Westenhofer, the visual effects supervisor for Rhythm & Hues, has been celebrating.

On Saturday night, he was joined by friends and family at Salt Creek Grille in Valencia to commemorate his achievements.

At the party, Westenhofer took turns taking photos with his guests and the two awards in front of the movie poster for "The Golden Compass."

Walter Gause, who organized the late-night bash, was happy for his friend of 15 years.

"I told him he was going to win this," he said about the Oscar.

Gause said immediately after the win in London, he realized that Westenhofer was going to win at the Academy Awards.

As a result, Gause, a comedy writer for television shows, said he ended up taking Westenhofer shopping for a new tuxedo because he didn't want his friend wearing the same outfit he did in London.

Of course, the party at Salt Creek Grille was just one of the many.

After the Academy Awards, Westenhofer said he attended the Governor's Ball and Elton John's party. He was also featured on "The Tonight Show" during a clip where Ross the Intern interviews Oscar winners. Once all the post Academy Award parties were over, Westenhofer said he ended up going to bed at 5:30 a.m. Monday morning.

The experience has also given him a chance to connect with old friends as he said that people he hasn't talked to in 20 years are calling him with congratulations.

But Westenhofer is familiar with the Academy Awards. In 2005, he was nominated for an Oscar and BAFTA Film Award for his visual effects work in "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe."

In 1998, he received his first BAFTA nomination for the visual effects in "Babe: Pig in the City."

He is currently working on the visual effects for "Land of the Lost," a comedy with Will Ferrell planned for a 2009 release.


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