John R. Ellis

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John Raymond Ellis​

​(Filmmaker, special effects artist,
animator, director, producer, writer)

John R. Ellis.jpg

Born March 2, 1955​
Wilmington, Ohio, USA

Resident of Pacoima,
Los Angeles County, California

Spouse Divorced from Cindy Weinstein Ellis (married 1984–1993)​

Sara Rachael Ellis
​ Julian Alexander Ellis​
John Leonard and Rachel Jeanette Wilson Ellis​
Alma mater:
Forest Hill Community High School
Palm Beach (Florida) State College

Religion Quaker

John Raymond Ellis (born March 2, 1955) is an American artist, filmmaker, animator, director, producer, and writer in Los Angeles, California, known particularly for his expertise in special effects.​


Ellis was born in Wilmington, south of Dayton, Ohio.. He is the youngest of two sons and two daughters of John Leonard MacDonald Ellis (1918–1997) of Clinton County, Ohio, and the former Rachel Jeanette Wilson (1918–1980), a native of neighboring Warren County. The senior Ellis was Methodist; Mrs. Ellis, Quaker. John R. Ellis is of English, Scottish, and Dutch descent. He was reared on a small farm in Clinton County until 1960, when the family moved to the Lakewood section of Wilmington. As a child, John liked to go to downtown Wilmington to buy comic books or go to the movie theater; he often pulled a wagon to collect soft drink bottles to trade for comics. His family encouraged him to develop his artistic and creative talents. At an early age, he developed an interest in aviation and built model planes and rockets.[1]

Because of his mother's asthma, John moved with his parents to West Palm Beach, Florida. His grown siblings had already moved from the parents' home: Larry Wayne Ellis (1943-2015) of Cincinnati, and two sisters, Susan Gayle Ellis (born 1942) of Wilmington, and Doris E. Gossett (1939–2010) of Silver Spring, Maryland. In 1973, Ellis graduated from both Forest Hill Community High School and North Technical Educational Center, with credentials in commercial art. At North Technical, Ellis studied under the graphic artist Helen Drake. In the early 1970s, he was tutored by comic book artist C. C. Beck (1910-1989), the creator of Captain Marvel.[1]

From 1973 to 1975 Ellis attended Palm Beach State College, then known as Palm Beach Junior College. He studied creative writing under the novelist David Stern, as well as design, philosophy, and psychology. He paid college tuition and fees through his work in free-lance graphics. He sketched comic books in Spanish and published limited edition posters and magazines sought by collectors. Between 1971 and 1981, Ellis hosted more than forty comic and science fiction media festivals and conventions across the United States, including some of the earliest Star Trek conclaves.[1]

Filmmaker and artist

In 1976, Ellis relocated to the Washington, D.C., area, where he became a free-lance artist and writer for newspapers and magazines, including Science News. He did animation for several government films. In 1979, he was hired to work in the camera department on the animation feature film, I Go Pogo, produced in Arlington, Virginia, and released in 1980. Thereafter, he worked as a director, producer, and animator.[1]

After I Go Pogo, Ellis joined Consolidated Visual Center, a commercial animation house in Tuxedo, Maryland, as an animator and director on mostly government, industrial and United States Armed Forces subjects. In 1982, he joined Broadcast Arts, a District of Columbia company that specialized in high profile clay animation and special effects commercials for such television networks as MTV, Showtime, HBO, Cinemax, NBC, ABC, and the Public Broadcasting Service. As an animator and producer at Broadcast Arts, he built miniatures and drew storyboards.[1]

In 1985, Ellis began working for Taylor Made Images animation company in Hyattsville, Maryland, at which he was an account executive as well as a producer, director, designer, and editor. At Taylor Made Images, Ellis began producing feature length live-action movies. He was still photographer for the special effects unit of the Tom Hanks HBO miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon, which aired in April 1998. That same year, Ellis designed spacesuits and props for the 2000 film Supernova. In 1998, he became head of visual effects for Full Moon Pictures. In late 1999, he became the visual effects coordinator for the Unified Film Organization.[1]

In 2000, Ellis began working free-lance again from his home studio. He created special effects for the 13-segment television series, William Shatner’s Full Moon Fright Night for the Science Fiction Channel. He is involved in digital film cleanup and restoration of such films as 8 Mile and The Cat in the Hat.[1]

In 2009, Ellis attended the National Aviation Hall of Fame's second Reel Stuff Film Festival of Aviation, held in Dayton, Ohio. He has in recent years been employed by the Milton Caniff (1907-1988) estate to restore to DVDs the thirty-four episodes of the 1958–1959 NBC television adventure series Steve Canyon, with Dean Fredericks in the title role. The series was created by the cartoonist Milton Caniff, a native of Dayton.[2]

The Internet Movie Data Base lists some seventy productions for Ellis beginning with Charcoal Black in 1972 and through Asylum of Darkness in 2017.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Ellis to be featured at Reel Stuff Film Festival of Aviation. Wilmington, Ohio, News Journal (March 11, 2009). Retrieved on July 13, 2011.
  2. Steve Canyon. Retrieved on July 13, 2011.
  3. John R. Ellis. Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved on March 9, 2020.

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