(written from a Production point of view)
Dawson's earlier special effects work includes the films Norwood (1970, starring Kim Darby), Rhinoceros (1974, featuring Percy Rodriguez), Mr. Majestyk (1974, photographed by Richard H. Kline), The Big Bus (1976, starring Rene Auberjonois and Sally Kellerman), Go Tell the Spartans (1978, starring David Clennon, Clyde Kusatsu and Craig Wasson), Good Guys Wear Black (1978, featuring Lloyd Haynes), Prophecy (1979, starring Robert Foxworth), and Academy Award-winning Reds (1981, featuring Nicholas Coster, Paul Sorvino and Ian Wolfe).
While working on the 1980 mini-series Shogun (featuring John Rhys-Davies and W. Morgan Sheppard), Dawson was accidentally buried alive while checking explosive charges for an earthquake scene. Dawson survived since he was on his stomach and had an air pocket.
In between his work on Star Trek II and Star Trek III, Dawson worked on the special effects for the hit 1982 Paramount Pictures comedy Airplane II: The Sequel. Like the Star Trek films, Airplane II also starred William Shatner.
Dawson's effects work can also be seen in episodes of the hit NBC series The A-Team, which starred Dwight Schultz. His most recent effects work was in the cult 1988 independent action film Traxx, featuring Leon Rippy.