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Berg says about himself that he became fascinated by special effects in movies since he saw Ernest B. Schoedsack's Mighty Joe Young (1949), featuring master technician Ray Harryhausen's effects.
Working as production assistant, Berg had a chance to go to the set of Jack Hill and Juan Ibáñez's House of Evil (1968), a Mexican-American production, where he would have a chance to meet horror star and his personal idol, Boris Karloff. Berg himself keeps a fond memory of this meeting.
Berg first confirmed job was anyhow uncredited: He worked in sci-fi B-movie The Further Adventures of Major Mars (1976), and then as miniature builder for not-spectacularly-better The Crater Lake Monster (1977), although this time he would appear credited, alongside with colleague Tippett.
Berg worked as a stop motion animator, as Harryhausen did before him, for Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope (1977). He moved different creatures, specially in the famous "cantina scene", and he was also supposed to act as different aliens. Although uncredited, he is known to have played Momaw Nadon, the "Hammerhead"; and also one of the arguing Duros. He is also supposed to play one of the Cantina Band members, particularly Tech Mo'r, the Ommni Box player; however, this last role is unconfirmed and even today a polemic question among experts. Anyhow, this would be the first and only time Berg has had an acting job.
Berg continued with science-fiction and horror flicks for the late 1970s, being credited as the only visual effect artist (model sculptor) for Michael Rae's Laserblast (1978) and as the only special effects artist in Joe Dante's Piranha (1978). In this last movie, he worked with special effect legend Chris Walas.
After that, he would work again with Chris Walas for Matthew Robbins' Dragonslayer; Berg is credited as a "dragon consultant", whatever that means.
Berg returned to George Lucas' crew for Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi (1983), as a creature consultant. That could be enough of Star Wars for almost any artist, but Berg would return to the Star Wars saga the following year: John Korty's TV movie The Ewok Adventure (1984) featured special effects by Berg and Star Wars colleagues Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett and Michael Pangrazio. All of them would get an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Special Visual Effects", although shared with other TV movies and series.
In 1984, Berg also worked as a consultant or advisor in other movies, including Joe Dante's Gremlins (again with Walas); Peter Hyams' 2010, for Entertainment Effects Group; and Ivan Reitman's Ghostbusters, again for EEG.
However, Berg left EEG for CWI: Chris Walas Inc. Alongside with other special effects artists from Star Wars, such as Don Bies and Howie Weed, he worked in David Cronenberg's The Fly (1986) , being nominated for a BAFTA Award to the Best Special Effects. The nominées for The Fly included Berg and Walas themselves, as well as Louis Craig and Hoyt Yeatman. The award, anyhow, was given to the film The Witches of Eastwick (1987).
Berg returned with CWI for Walas' debut as a director in The Fly II (1989), where Berg was the creature effects supervisor.
During the early 1990s, Berg created monsters. He made robots for Irvin Kershner's Robocop 2 (1990) (with Howie Weed working for him), and then as a technical advisor for David Cronenberg's fantasy Naked Lunch (1991). He would then be a moldmaker for Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).
His experience with Burton would be useful more than ten years after that, when he joined the Star Wars saga for a fifth time, working as model maker in the last installment of the saga, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith (2005). In the meantime, Jon Berg has also been responsible for creating the statue used for the Fan Film Awards.
Berg is currently active as a special effect artist.
- Star Wars Insider 49 Interview: "Jon Berg: The Stop-Motion Animation of Episode V," pages 68-69
- "Creature Creator"—Star Wars Insider 147