A popular guest lecturer, Ferren has addressed many professional groups in the entertainment, business and scientific communities. One of his current topics concerns the implications of creativity and information technology to impact our futures. In Ferren’s view, the changes in the world economy and this new technological society are all a part of a large story. Life is an expression of an art for story telling. Embracing the creative mind is allowing the person to know that they are inventing their own jobs and their own futures in whatever they do. As the Internet evolves, so too does our ability to tell stories, and to have real impact on the evolution of our world. Ferren may also share how he has brought some of the greatest technological minds of our time to work with him at Disney Imagineering, and how he has been able to learn to capture and attract imaginations.
In 1993, Ferren joined Walt Disney Imagineering (the theme park research and development, design and engineering subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company) in the new position of senior vice president, creative technology. In 1995, he was named executive vice president for creative technology and research and development, a group that acts as a resource for new technology and creative input for the entire company.
In addition to running the creative technology group, Ferren has been involved in many new theme park projects, including: The Twilight Zone Tower of TerrorTM, The Extra TERRORestrial Alien encounter, Honey I Shrunk The Audience, Innoventions, the upcoming General Motors attraction at EPCOT and The Indiana Jones Adventure.
Prior to his current position, Ferren was a consultant to Walt Disney Imagineering while heading his own firm, Associates & Ferren, a company he founded in 1978. The company specialized in research and development, creative design, engineering, and execution of projects and systems for the visual and performing arts as well as for industry and the sciences.
Ferren has won numerous awards for his work, including the New York Drama Desk Award, the Los Angeles Critics Circle Award and the Maharam Foundation Annual Theater Design Award. He holds memberships in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
In 1983, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Ferren its Technical Achievement Award for his computer-controlled lighting effects system after its use in several major films, including Robert Benton’s “Places in the Heart” and Sidney Lumet’s “Deathtrap.” In 1987, Ferren received two more honors from the Academy: a scientific and engineering award for the advanced concept optical printer (the world’s most advanced optical printer for motion picture special effects), and an award for the laser synchro-cue system used for precise camera positioning in motion control photography.
Ferren’s film achievements include directing the special visual effects for Ken Russell’s “Altered States,” Paul Mazursky’s “The Tempest,” Sidney Lumet’s “Deathtrap,” Marshall Brickman’s “The Manhattan Project,” Frank Oz’s “Little Shop of Horrors” (for which he earned an Academy Award nomination for visual special effects) and others.
His work in the theater has involved design for numerous Broadway shows, including “The Crucifer of Blood,” “Frankenstein,” “Evita,” “Cats” and “Sunday in the Park with George.”
His other projects include creating the visual effects for the ABC news magazine series, “Day One,” designing interactive graphics displays for ABC’s “Prime Time Live,” and developing a traveling, multimedia exhibit of the Bill of Rights on a 200th anniversary tour across the U.S. Industrial and product design clients include Strand Lighting, Nasa and Revco Sunglasses. Ferren also designed a marine biology and archaeology exhibit for the state of Maryland and the University of Maryland. This 30,000 sq. ft. exhibit is to be housed in the new Christopher Columbus Center of Marine research and Exploration in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.