Former Hilltopper gets on the big screen

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By Kirsten Laskey

Some people dream about appearing on the silver screen, but William Lebeda made this dream come true. The former Los Alamos resident has had his work projected onto movie screens for the last 15 years.

Moviegoers can see the former Los Alamos resident’s work again in M. Night Shyamalan’s movie, “The Happening.”

In this movie, Lebeda was the second unit director. As the second unit director, Lebeda shot scenes that didn’t involve principal actors. Some of these scenes included stunt work and driving scenes.

Additionally, Lebeda is the creative director of Picture Mill, a motion design studio in Hollywood. He designs main titles for features, which included “The Panic Room,” “Vacancy,” “Shoot Em’ Up” and “Pushing Daisies.”

Although Lebeda has worked on a variety of movies, he has worked with Shyamalan since the director created “The Sixth Sense.”

“The Happening” provided Lebeda with an opportunity to step up behind the camera lens. “It was just a nice opportunity to get out and actually be a part of making the movie,” he said.

Typically, his work begins when the movie has already been made, Lebeda explained.

Having a long-standing relationship with Shyamalan helped Lebeda make this move. He said he and the director speak the same language and share similar interests.

“It’s nice to work with your friends,” Lebeda said. “When you are working, it stops being like work. (It’s) delightful to have those relationships.”

Lebeda describes “The Happening,” as different from the other movies he has done with Shyamalan. He said it’s little more geared toward adults and little scarier than past movies.

Lebeda said it is a “thrilling chase movie.”

Lebeda moved to Los Alamos with his parents, Bettylou and Chuck Lebeda, in 1974.

He graduated from Los Alamos High School in 1986.

Lebeda said he earned his undergraduate degree in design and fell in love with animation while attending a film festival one summer.

It prompted him to attend graduate school at CalArts where he majored in film making and design.

A lot of different factors helped Lebeda earn the job he has today.

“Some of it is being lucky,” he said, “Mostly it’s about working hard ee you have to work hard.”